Medieval Christianity And The Arts  

After the fall of the Roman Empire for many centuries thereafter, artistic talent lay dormant in Europe. There were no signs of any artistic, architectural or scientific work. The only institution that was dominant in this scenario was the Church. It was the Church that played a cardinal role in keeping Western ethnicity alive.

Christian art as it was designated in the medieval era was created for the church. This art encompassed the Late Antique period, Roman art and architecture and the Byzantine art and architecture. History demonstrates that in times before the Edict of Milan, the state religion of the Roman Empire was Christianity. The domain of Christian art was confined to adorning of concealed places of worship and it was vital that the style of art had to be in harmony with the theology of the religion. Perfection was not a sort after attribute in the artistic world of those times. The artists by the medium of their work attempted to highlight the sacred connotation of the art. Splendor or beauty of art was not the prime issue. The communication of religious beliefs was viewed as the foremost agenda of aesthetic caliber.

The history of Christian fine art commences with the Irish and Anglo-Saxon manuscripts produced in the middle of the 6th century CE. This paved way for the Carolingan, Byzantine and Persian Islamic illuminated texts. This form of art was exhibited in various abbeys and monasteries in Ireland in blended combinations of red, yellow, green, blue, violet, purple, and turquoise blue. Gold and silver texts were also common.

Towards the end of the 8th century, the fame and authority of the Frankish Empire under the reigns of the Christian King Charlemagne was soaring high. With the increase in the power domain of the Empire, creativity also rejuvenated. The pieces of art produced in the times of Charlemagne were predominantly inspired by the Late Antiquity and Byzantine era.

In times to come, the European bishops adopted an authoritative role in society. The church gradually increased its patronage of art across Europe. This phase commenced with the Romanesque style murals and illuminations in France and Spain, extended to massive cathedrals at Santiago de Compostela and ended with the Gothic regime in art, architecture and sculpture. It was this stimulation of European art initiated by the church that finally led to the emergence of the Italian and Northern Renaissance which dominated the continent in the 14th century.

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