Question 1: Medieval art
Medieval art is a combination of both the classical and new classical traditions due to the various aspects of the art especially the elements of both Romanesque and gothic art and architecture in relation to the medieval church. Each of the architectural designs has its own outstanding and unique features that make them stand as original. In this history, we can take note of the Romanesque architecture of the Medieval Europe between sixth and 10th century. Two centuries later, it evolved into Gothic architecture that lasted for four centuries to 16th century (Bony 13). The term Romanesque architecture is used to describe a style that was identifiably of medieval origin and prefigured in the Gothic, but still maintained the rounded Roman arch that made it appear to be a continuation of the traditional building style of the Romans. In the contemporary society, the term ‘Romanesque Architecture’ refers to the works of art that were prevalent between the 10th and 12th century.
The First Romanesque used features like rubble walls, smaller windows and unvaulted roofs while the second Romanesque is marked by greater refinement, together with the more use of the vault and dressed stone. Generally, the utilization of all the design aspects of Romanesque architecture not only results in an impressive piece of work but also reflect the solidity of art. The gothic style brought about different style in the medieval buildings. For instance, it brought about a new development as far as the use of the pointed arch or rather the ogive arch is concerned. This is the arch that is “formed by two curves united at their upper extremity so as to produce a clear height beneath them, greater than the half of the distance separating their bases.” (ibid). This was a modification of the Romanesque ogive curve, which was semi-circular, and its height hardly ever exceeded the one-half of the distance between two curves’ bases. Gothic architecture brought about a new style of decorating the walls of the cathedrals. In the Romanesque style, the walls had an outward appearance that did not project much beauty
Question 2: Egyptian Architecture and Ancient near East Architecture
The basic starting point for examining the relationship between Egyptian houses and their inhabitants has to be the seminal work of stone on this subject. The walls of columns from different historical buildings i.e. Muweilah, Rumeilah, Godin and Nush-I Jan have similar bases set into the floor level bases, with a flat stone set into the floor level and smaller stone, mud brick or mud plaster forming a surround around them. The column bases were laid out in even rows such that no dominant aisle or axis is created by the columns themselves. The middle aisle was wider than the side aisles, creating a marked axis down the centre of the structure. The isolated use of free standing and engaged mud-brick columns is found throughout the Near East architecture.
The image of the winged bull is prominently in the art of many cultures of the Ancient near East. They represent the concept of unmitigated power, fertility or as at Babylon, perhaps the god Adad (Curtis and Simpson 210).
Figure 2: The Sphinx of Ancient Near East (Curtis and Simpson 211).
Animals were a common aspect of the Ancient near East architecture and were used to express the political power of the leaders-they were refered to as the visual dialogue. It included the sphinxes, winged disks, and un-Babylonian arches. They were executed using brick friezes.
The bricks used in the Near Ancient East has characteristic marks. The marks were of four different types executed either as a scratch made on the pre-baked brick; a small, glazed character; a painted mark or a mark on relief. The marks varied from numerical fitters’ marks to alphabetic symbols to indeterminate signs.
Figure 3:Brick marks ( Curtis and Simpson 212)
Archeologists believe that the marks may either demonstrate the possibility that a stone artisan could additionally manufacture moulded decorative bricks, or that the methods used for accounting and identifying stone masonry were sees as sufficiently adaptable to brick making.
Figure 1: columns in Near East Architecture
Question 3: Minoan, Byzantine and Persian Art
The Minoan civilization in art and architecture succeeded the Neolithic Age. The period was characterized by different designs of pottery. Some of the characteristic objects of the period include the Synite Vase, which was discovered in 1900; the Diorite bowl, which was found in 1902 and the Liparite bowl. There is baffling possibility that these objects were made of such hard material thus would not break easily thus survived as heirlooms. The difference between these pieces of art and those of the previous periods was the use of paint to produce color effects. It was the achievement of the Early Minoan Age to produce, by painting on the flat, the geometric effects that hitherto had been produced by the white filling. It is possible that the very pigment used was white gypsum. Additionally, a lustrous black glaze was spread as a slip over the surface of the objects to imitate the old dark hand-polished surface.
The period extending from Constantine and Justinian (in Christian history) was the formative age for Byzantine art. Christian architecture was progeny of Greco-roman architecture but certain regions of the East especially Syria, it had already gone through some drastic changes. An example of art during this period can be experienced through the ruins of the Palmyra and Balbek by the layout, the appearance of the principal lines as well as the decoration. The aspect that is most remarkable about this period is the substitution of curves for straight lines and archways for shouldered flat arches. The new trend spread rapidly. At the beginning of the fourth century, there was a palace in Dalmatia that had roots in this architecture: that of Diocletian who had resided in Asia.
Persian art introduced qualities such as “freely moving and intensely vital rhythms” (Curtis and Simpson 66).Some of the notable artifacts of Persian art are the Persian model and the Chinese carpet. They provide the purest formal pleasure since they offered no means of intellectual engagement. This sort of universalism provided access to the appreciation-if-not understanding- of other forms of art.
Question 4: Gothic and Romanesque art
The use of natural aspects specifically flora coupled with cable moldings, cordons as well as chevrons became an integral part of the decorative aspect of the two types of architecture. Among the commonly featured forms of decorations included the shapes of oak leaves, strawberry and wild grape among others. A modification of the decorative Romanesque bull’s eye was also introduced. It was made more open by cutting it out into not only trefoils but also quarter-foils among other designs. Below is an illustration of the Romanesque bull’s eye.
Another characteristic feature that was introduced to medieval buildings was the increase in columns. Rouaix notes that:
The columns were grouped into columnar piers, maintaining their bases at the same level. The capitals supported a square abacus; the shafts were circular in section, and stood upon circular bases, broad and depressed. The low and timid bays of the Romanesque style were now boldly opened out, extended, lifted up, within their framework of clustered shafts (171).
The first figure shows the design of the gothic column. The second one gives the design of the Romanesque column. The gothic column also had some engraved copper plates. Throughout the gothic period, the height of the columns as well as their base kept on changing-there was no specific height or shape of the column.
The supporting arches had to be raised above the aisle roofs to abut the high vaults, as if they were flying over them thus the expression ‘flying buttresses’. Flying buttresses shifted the weight of the roof and vaults away from the supporting walls to the side structures that in turn carried it down to the ground.
The flying buttresses, ribbed vaults, and pointed arches-the characteristic elements of the Gothic style-all worked together to permit larger windows and to open up the interior spaces, allowing the increased light to penetrate the building more completely. The Gothic ribbed vaults over the earlier barrel or tunnel vaults (Romanesque architecture).
Question 5: Funerary art
Estrucans funerary art
For the estrucans, death is a journey to the underworld and not only the destination. On their tombs, there was a detailed portrayal of many different people on their way into the underworld. There were also appearances of some demons. The quite frightening appearance of some demons explains the human fear of death. They showed that there were some threats and dangers along the way.
Figure 4: Demons-male and female on the tomb entrance (De et al. 69)
Etruscan art was also used to express a message for the living. The depiction of a gens, ancestors and newly deceased in the realm of the dead served as a kind of self portrait of a clan, a message addressed to the living but discernible only during the few hours they spend in the tomb.
Figure 5: The Clan aspect expressed in Etruscan graves (De et al. 88)
Figure 6: Fully equipped household aspect of the graves (Ibid)
Mycenean funerary art:
Like the Estrucans, several items were found in their shaft graves. The graves were in the same locality:
Figure 7: Mycenaean graveyard(Anonymous 1)
This ranged from precious material to the tools and materials they used in everyday life. They included a gold death mask-a large round moon clean-shaven with fat cheeks, tiny ears and cramped little features. In the shaft graves were also other three death masks, one round-eyed and smirking as Agamemnon’s moon-faced companion.
Figure 8: A gold death mask (from Encyclopedia Britannica)
The other two were flat and small with beetling eye-brows and tightly shut eyes. Around the five masks, the rest of the grave treasure was laid out in all its astonishing profusion especially for the Mycenean ruling elite. Their value in the society was demonstrated by the inclusion of a lot of gold, vast sheets, as well as breastplates. There was a different between art used for women and men. Sewn to the burial clothes of the women were hundreds of ‘sequins’, flat discs embossed with butterflies, leaves, fish, flowers, stars and spirals.
Question 6: What is uniquely Roman about Roman Architecture?
One of the roman features of Roman architecture is the arrangement of buildings. This can be drawn from the arrangement of the great temple complexes, the ordered streets, the massive baths and the forests of columns.
Another aspect of the Roman architecture is the belief in the proximity to the divine within a place of worship-the temple. Ancient Romans derived this aspect form the relative distance between oneself and the image or venerated artifact of the divine housed within the building. The longitudinal aspect of the Jewish temple, for instance, ran through a series of partitions and other demarcations that designated places reserved for specific groups.
The decorations commonly used in Roman architecture are purely Roman. This includes the Roman plastered sculpture, shrine and all other forms of decoration. Front-building or veneering was the main source of the Roman ornament.
The sanctuary is a common aspect in Roman architecture especially in the churches. In ancient Roman culture, it was the residence of the deity , while outside the enclosure was where the sacrifices to its honour took place and where mass worship was performed. Thus the enclosure was more than the perimeter wall between the city. This aspect was emphasized architecturally in the temenos of the Temple of Dushara at Petra.
Figure 1: The sanctuary as depicted in Ancient Roman Temples (Ball 59)
Columns were used in the creation of the required space as depicted in the above photograph.
Question 7: Basic types of early Christian churches
They were constructed with thick stone walls. They had few small windows that made the interiors dark and shadowy. They were constructed using the Romanesque architecture. In Ronanesque naves, barrel vaulting often replaced the post and lintel ceilings of earlier days. In a few cases, a dome covered the sanctuary. They renewed interest in the visual depiction of biblical ideas and events an aspect that brought new art to the churches in the form of frescoes, paintings and sculpture. They had a variety of exterior features including the round towers with pointed caps. Most of their features were designed specifically for defensive purposes: crenellations on the top of towers and narrow lancet windows both intended to provide protection for archers defending the buildings-augmented defense function. They were multiuse complexes that articulated the tension between communal and individual religious practice.
Figure 2: The Mont-Saint-Michel, Britanny, France-an example of the basilica abbeys (Kilde 78)
The gothic church (Cathedrals)
The new engineering techniques of the eleventh century led to the development of the gothic church. The church had larger and more numerous windows, flooding church naves with light and propelling the craft of glass making to unprecedented achievements. The architectural basis for the shift from dark spaces of earlier Romanesque buildings to light spaces of the gothic was the replacement of the round arch with the pointed arch as the primary structural element. The builders also used the pointed arches to create decorative fan vaults. In the front of many churches, pointed arch doors organized in banks of three to indicate the trinity were flanked by soaring towers topped with narrow steeples and delicate finials echoed and enhanced the vertical character of the architectural style.
Figure 3: Cathedral of Notre Dame, Chartres, France (Kilde 68)
Figure 4: Cathedral of St. Dennis, Paris. (Kilde 70)
These two types of churches formed the basis for the development as well as the modifications that resulted to the different types of church building in the history of the church.
Question 8: Realism in sculptures
Romantic realism refers to the art that deals with the themes of volition as well as value while acknowledging the objective reality and the importance of technique. It is the portrayal of thinsg and people as they ought to be. In religious sculpture brilliant white was neither a color nor the absence of a color, but a condition of embodied radiance with supernatural referents. Sculptors in ancient Rome depicted the feminine nature of women in a number of ways especially their mode of dressing. However, the statutory representation of a woman in public differed from the self-representation of real women. This was characterized by the lack of jewellery as adornment of female statues in public setting across the Roman Empire.
Figure 5: A sculpture of a woman that was made in the 5th century (Fejfer 332)
Figure 6: A seated statue of a Roman woman (Fejfer 334)
Realism in Greek sculpture was expressed for both the men and women. The earliest life size female figure to have survived dated by the middle of the 7th century. It is made of Naxian marble and comes from Delos. The sculpture depicts a standing female figure. It is the goddess of Artemis. The sculpture is significantly thin, her arms are at her side and her hair is long, framing the face and the neck.
Figure 7: Marble statue of a maiden (Smith and Jo 109)
The depiction male human body was also crucial in the Greek art. The artistry was demonstrated in the depiction of the details on the faces and in the elaborate hairstyles just as was the case with the female sculpture. Some of the first known examples include the kouroi. They are statues of young males with long hair, arms at their sides and the left leg slightly extended infront of them. The sculpture represents the frontality of the works, with the figures divided equally into two identical parts around a notional axis at the centre of the figure, and the schematic nature of the individual anatomic details as well as their decorativeness.
Figure 8: Marble statue of a youth (kouros) (Smith and Jo 111)
Unlike the Greek sculptures, Assyrian sculptures were not very articulate as far as the depiction of the human figure is concerned. For instance, one of the sculptures was that of the Goddess as shown below:
Figure 9: Assyrian goddess from rock sculptures ( Ward 34).
The difference can be attributed to the material used in making the sculpture as opposed to that used in Greek.
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