Once Christianity was legally permitted, its need for religious art increased rapidly. New churches were built as centres of worship, using the architectural design of the basic Roman Basilica (used for civic administration and justice). A typical basilica church had a central nave with one or more aisles on either side and a semi-circular/polygonal apse at one end, covered by a semi-dome or sectional vault; the apse became the presbytery and contained a raised platform, upon which sat the bishop, his priests, and also the altar. Baptisteries were also designed and built for various rites, notably baptism followed by annointing-with-oil, as non-baptized people could not enter the Christian Basilica. Most interior decoration of these new religious buildings was done with mosaics, although mural paintings have also been uncovered. The sculptural decoration of sarcophagi became more intricate, often illustrating numerous scenes from the bible. But almost no sculpture in the round was made, for fear of creating pagan-style idols. Relief sculpture was therefore standard, mostly in stone although ivory carving was another popular medium. Overall, the 4th century witnessed more art, the use of richer materials, and the development of precise narrative sequences, as in the mosaics of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome and the later 5th century churches of Ravenna. In addition, during the 5th century, Christian imagery began to accord greater importance to religious significance than to realism. Thus realistic perspective, proportions, colour and light were downgraded in favour of standardized conventions and symbols, when portraying Biblical figures and events. Christian Gifts
Christian art of the 14th century, the pre-Renaissance era, was dominated by Giotto - see the Scrovegni (Arena) Chapel Frescoes (c.1303-10) - and Duccio de Buoninsegna (1255-1318) - see the celebrated polyptych for Siena Cathedral, known as the Maesta Altarpiece (1308-11). After this came the Early Renaissance in Florence, exemplified by the city's duomo - for more, see: Florence Cathedral, Brunelleschi and the Renaissance (1420-36) - Masaccio (Brancacci Chapel frescoes) and Donatello (statue of David). If 15th century Christian art was dominated by Florence, the centre of 16th century Christian art was Rome, where the greatest patrons were Pope Sixtus IV (1471-84), Pope Julius II (1503-13), Pope Leo X (1513-21) and Pope Paul III (1534-49). Christian Wall Art
The Catholic Church launched the Counter-Reformation to fight for the hearts and minds of those Christians who had 'gone over' to Protestantism. To this end, the Society of Jesus (Societas Jesu) - founded by S. Ignatius Loyola and commonly known as the Jesuits - was formally established in 1540 by Pope Paul III, as an important teaching body and missionary order. Jesuit art was suitably inspirational. First, the architect Giacomo Barozzi (Vignola) was commissioned to design a church for the new order - The Church of the Holy Name of Jesus (Il Gesu) (1568-73) - for which the Baroque painter Giovanni Battista Gaulli painted the fabulous trompe l'oeil ceiling frescoes. Another Jesuit church, the San Ignazio, was the setting for what is arguably the greatest example of quadratura painting ever created - The Triumph and Apotheosis of St Ignatius of Loyola (1691-4) by Andrea Pozzo. There exists no greater exemplar of Counter-Reformation painting, and no better example of the differences between Protestant and Catholic art. Christian Gifts
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. ... Christian Wall Art
The Roman Catholic Church responded to the Protestant Reformation with the Counter-Reformation. Catholic Counter-Reformation Art was designed to communicate the distinctive tenets of the Catholic liturgy and faith so as to strengthen the popularity of Catholicism. It was launched at the same time as Mannerist painting was taking hold in Italy - a highly expressive style that used distortion for effect, as exemplified in Parmigianino's picture Madonna with the Long Neck (1535, Uffizi). Concerned that Catholic art was attaching too much importance to decorative qualities, and not enough to religious values - thus negating its educational effects on churchgoers - the Catholic authorities decreed that Biblical art should be be direct and compelling in its narrative presentation, which itself should be accurate rather than fanciful, and should above all encourage piety. Nudity, and other inappropriate imagery was banned. For an example of a pious Mannerist artsist who adapted his style in line with the Church's teaching, see: Federico Barocci (1526-1612). Christian Canvas Art
Fewer churches meant less sculpture and less ecclesiastical decoration. But some new works did appear, such as Christ the Redeemer (1926-31), the huge soapstone statue overlooking Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil. Designed by Heitor da Silva Costa, and sculpted by Paul Landowski, it is the largest Art Deco statue in the world. Other noteworthy pieces of modern Christian sculpture include: Tarcisius, Christian Martyr (1868, Musee d'Orsay, marble) carved by Jean-Alexandre-Joseph Falguiere; Genesis (1929-31, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester) and Adam (1938, Harewood House), both by Jacob Epstein.
Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz. They are the work of the craftsman and of the hands of the goldsmith; their clothing is violet and purple; they are all the work of skilled men. But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation. Thus shall you say to them: “The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens.” Christian Gifts
Even in Protestant Amsterdam, however, there remained a modest demand for religious paintings. One of the most important commissions received by the young Rembrandt, was five paintings for Prince Frederick Henry of Orange - the leading soldier in the Dutch wars against Catholic Spain - on the subject of Christ's Passion. In addition to his skill as a portraitist, Rembrandt went on to become the greatest religious painter of Dutch Protestantism, noted for works like: The Blinding of Samson (1636), The Sacrifice of Isaac (1636), Susanna and the Elders (1647), Bathsheba Holding King David's Letter (1654), Jacob Blessing the Children of Joseph (1656), and Return of the Prodigal Son (1666-69).
In addition, goldsmithing and precious metalwork reappeared on the Continent, as did sculpture, although the medieval sculpture (at least under the Ottos) tended to focus on church furnishings - altars, tombs, doors, candlesticks, and sepulchres, rather than embellish church architecture. Some murals were also produced, such as The Raising of Jairus's Daughter and Healing of the Hemorrhaging Woman (c.980, Church of St George, Reichenau). Share Your Faith Products
As a secular, non-sectarian, universal notion of art arose in 19th-century Western Europe, ancient and Medieval Christian art began to be collected for art appreciation rather than worship, while contemporary Christian art was considered marginal. Occasionally, secular artists treated Christian themes (Bouguereau, Manet) — but only rarely was a Christian artist included in the historical canon (such as Rouault or Stanley Spencer). However many modern artists such as Eric Gill, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Jacob Epstein, Elizabeth Frink and Graham Sutherland have produced well-known works of art for churches.[1] Salvador Dali is an artist who had also produced notable and popular artworks with Christian themes.[2] Contemporary artists such as Makoto Fujimura have had significant influence both in sacred and secular arts. Other notable artists include Larry D. Alexander and John August Swanson. Some writers, such as Gregory Wolfe, see this as part of a rebirth of Christian humanism.[3] Share Your Faith Products
The Roman Catholic Church responded to the Protestant Reformation with the Counter-Reformation. Catholic Counter-Reformation Art was designed to communicate the distinctive tenets of the Catholic liturgy and faith so as to strengthen the popularity of Catholicism. It was launched at the same time as Mannerist painting was taking hold in Italy - a highly expressive style that used distortion for effect, as exemplified in Parmigianino's picture Madonna with the Long Neck (1535, Uffizi). Concerned that Catholic art was attaching too much importance to decorative qualities, and not enough to religious values - thus negating its educational effects on churchgoers - the Catholic authorities decreed that Biblical art should be be direct and compelling in its narrative presentation, which itself should be accurate rather than fanciful, and should above all encourage piety. Nudity, and other inappropriate imagery was banned. For an example of a pious Mannerist artsist who adapted his style in line with the Church's teaching, see: Federico Barocci (1526-1612).

And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Christian Canvas Art
Stained glass production was concentrated in centres like the Rhineland (Germany) and in the Ile de France and Poitiers. Framed for the first time in lead, designs were based on strong colour contrasts (blue, intense reds, yellow). (See also: Stained Glass Art: Materials, Methods.) Famous examples include glass windows like: The Prophet Hosea (1130, south wall of Augsburg Cathedral); and The Crucifixion of Christ (1165, Poitiers Cathedral). Murals were used - as in Byzantine churches - to educate the illiterate churchgoer. Styles were typically dynamic and animated, while Spanish artists created Romanesque murals with a mixture of Spanish and Islamic art. Sculpture appeared mostly on the exterior of churches, in a rather static or wooden style. The most famous Romanesque artist was probably the sculptor Gislebertus (1120-1135), known for his relief work on the portals of
A Psalm for giving thanks. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. ... Christian Wall Art
Baroque murals include the celebrated Aurora fresco (1621-3, Villa Ludovisi, Rome) by Guercino and Agostino Tassi; the Assumption of the Virgin (1625-7) on the duomo of the church of S. Andrea della Valle, by Giovanni Lanfranco (1582-1647); the Palazzo Barberini frescoes by Pietro da Cortona, including Allegory of Divine Providence (1633-9); and the Apotheosis of St Ignatius (1688-94, Sant'Ignazio, Rome) by Andrea Pozzo.
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know, and a nation that did not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you. ...
Of David. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. ... Christian Gifts
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, ...
In short, the sole purpose of Counter-Reformation art was to glorify God and Catholic traditions, and promote the sacraments and the saints. Thus Michelangelo's Last Judgment fresco in the Sistine Chapel was heavily criticized for its nudity, for showing Jesus without a beard, and for including the pagan character of Charon. Paolo Veronese's painting The Last Supper was (not unreasonably) attacked for including extravagant costumes, drunken Germans and dwarfs along with a huge crowd of people. In fact, Veronese simply side-stepped the issue by renaming the picture Feast in the House of Levi. Christian Gifts
“Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whom the Lord has put skill and intelligence to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary shall work in accordance with all that the Lord has commanded.” And Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whose mind the Lord had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him up to come to do the work. And they received from Moses all the contribution that the people of Israel had brought for doing the work on the sanctuary. They still kept bringing him freewill offerings every morning, so that all the craftsmen who were doing every sort of task on the sanctuary came, each from the task that he was doing, and said to Moses, “The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the Lord has commanded us to do.” ... Christian Gifts
Early Christian art survives from dates near the origins of Christianity. The oldest Christian sculptures are from sarcophagi, dating to the beginning of the 2nd century. The largest groups of Early Christian paintings come from the tombs in the Catacombs of Rome, and show the evolution of the depiction of Jesus, a process not complete until the 6th century, since when the conventional appearance of Jesus in art has remained remarkably consistent. Christian Canvas Art
Artists were commissioned more secular genres like portraits, landscape paintings and because of the revival of Neoplatonism, subjects from classical mythology. In Catholic countries, production continued, and increased during the Counter-Reformation, but Catholic art was brought under much tighter control by the church hierarchy than had been the case before. From the 18th century the number of religious works produced by leading artists declined sharply, though important commissions were still placed, and some artists continued to produce large bodies of religious art on their own initiative. Christian Canvas Art

Fewer churches meant less sculpture and less ecclesiastical decoration. But some new works did appear, such as Christ the Redeemer (1926-31), the huge soapstone statue overlooking Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil. Designed by Heitor da Silva Costa, and sculpted by Paul Landowski, it is the largest Art Deco statue in the world. Other noteworthy pieces of modern Christian sculpture include: Tarcisius, Christian Martyr (1868, Musee d'Orsay, marble) carved by Jean-Alexandre-Joseph Falguiere; Genesis (1929-31, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester) and Adam (1938, Harewood House), both by Jacob Epstein.
“Then bring near to you Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the people of Israel, to serve me as priests—Aaron and Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. You shall speak to all the skillful, whom I have filled with a spirit of skill, that they make Aaron's garments to consecrate him for my priesthood. These are the garments that they shall make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a coat of checker work, a turban, and a sash. They shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons to serve me as priests. They shall receive gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen. ... Christian Gifts
Spain is the only European state to have emerged from a religious struggle between Christianity and Islam (Muslim rule over most of the Iberian peninsula lasted 718-1492). Not surprisingly therefore, the school of Spanish Painting produced a form of Christian art which was consistent with the country's uncompromising devotion to the Catholic cause. Its greatest exponent was Domenikos Theotokopoulos, called El Greco. After training in Byzantine icon painting he worked in Venice before making his home in Spain. Here he created a series of ecstatic portraits of Christ and the Saints, whose intensity of expression appealed directly to the spiritual feelings of the spectator. These powerful holy paintings, with their elongated figures, distorted perspective and non-natural colour schemes made El Greco the father of Counter-Reformation art in Spain. His most famous Catholic paintings include: The Trinity (1577-9); The Disrobing of Christ (1579); The Burial of Count Orgaz (1586); Christ driving the Traders from the Temple (1600); the Resurrection (1600), and The Opening of the Fifth Seal of the Apocalypse (1608). Although they had none of Caravaggio's naturalism, these pictures were spiritual masterpieces, and thus wholly in line with the doctrinal requirements of the Vatican.
The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, one of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, and until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the captivity of Jerusalem in the fifth month. Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” ... Christian Gifts
Ironically, Christian Renaissance architecture was based on designs from pagan Greek architecture, and made liberal use of Doric, Ionic and Corinthian orders. Outstanding examples include: the dome of Florence Cathedral (1420-36) and Church of San Lorenzo (1420-69) designed by Brunelleschi; Church of Santa Maria delle Carceri (1485-1506) by Giuliano da Sangallo; Saint Peter's Basilica (1506-1626) by Bramante, Raphael, Michelangelo, Giacomo della Porta, Carlo Maderno and Bernini; Church of San Giorgio Maggiore (1562) by Palladio. Christian Wall Art
×