Ancient Christian Art
What you'll learn
- Students will learn the key developments, vocabulary terms, and works of art which are associated with early Christian art.
- Students will be able to recognize major early Christian works and relate them to late Roman art.
- Students will gain an appreciation of the themes that defined early Christian art from later periods.
- A comprehensive vocabulary list is found at the end of the course.
- Background familiarity with Roman art will help the most committed learners appreciate the evolution of early Christian artwork of both the western and eastern Mediterranean basin.
The basis for the Western world’s division of time has, since the ninth century, been measured by the advent of the lifetime of the religious and debatably historical figure of Jesus Christ. What was commonly called “A.D.” from anno dominum (“the year of our lord”) has shifted to “C.E.” (for “common era”) in modern scholarship, but the division and measuring of time itself from this fixed point has remained identical. For Western civilization, the advent of a Christian era defined virtually every aspect of life and society through the subsequent centuries; to even begin to address those myriad ways is far beyond the scope of this course. Instead, we look at the earliest appearances of Christian artwork, their forms, and nascent iconographies in the early centuries of this “common era” and observe the earliest foundation being laid for what ultimately become the dominant content and style of artwork in the West for the next millennium.This course covers the earliest images of Christianity from signs and symbols to the appearance (and identity) of images of Christ and Mary. We take an in-depth look at artworks from Rome, as well as from the territories of Roman Palestine, Syria, and Egypt, as we trace the development of forms which would become the icons of one of the major religions of the world. The full picture of early Christian art is as much what it is not as much as it is. It is not images of suffering, of the torturous death of Christ, of ghastly and shocking images of violence. It is not images which intend to provoke guilt, frighten, or otherwise emotionally manipulate its viewers. All of that would come out in full force in the Medieval Period, but for the time being, as another historian put it, that would hardly have attracted converts in antiquity.
Who this course is for:
- High school, university, and graduate students will find both a review of key pieces and developments as well as original research and connections which are exclusive to this course.
Dr. Lily Filson has held the title of Assistant Professor for both private as well as state universities in the United States. She received her Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Formative Sciences and her M.A. in Italian Renaissance Art History; her educational fellowships include a European Research Council Grant Fellowship at the Universita' Ca Foscari in Venice, Italy, the Katerina Duskova Memorial Fellowship from the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, and the Syracuse University Florence Fellowship. She has more recently won a Short-Term Grant from the Renaissance Society of America and a Research Award from the University of Oxford.
Her studies and career have brought her into contact with numerous artworks and sites that go beyond traditional art history survey courses; her lectures feature unique content and fresh perspectives on the greatest story ever told: why and how art is made and how we relate to it over time. She brings first-hand experience and a warm delivery style to her video lectures which bring ancient artworks to life.