Friday, April 1, 2011

Early Medieval: Christ Enthroned from the book of Kells

Christ Enthroned from the Book of Kells, 800 A.D 
Trinitiy College Library , Dublin

It is interesting to notice how much Christian art flourished after it was legalized by Constantine in Rome and made the state religion by Justinian. Early Christians, because of the persecution they faced had only the chance to create their art in the catacombs that hold the bodies of the early Christians martyrs, but after its legalization, Christian art became one of the main influences of religion art in the art of the medieval times and beyond. In fact, most art from the Medieval, Romanesque and Gothic periods is religious in subject matter, and hardly any secular art existed during this time. Early Medieval art borrowed aspects from Byzantine and Early Christian art, the use of relief , mosaics and sculpture continued but other media such as stained glass , metal work and illuminated manuscripts were more used than the media mentioned before them.  The illuminated manuscript consisted of an illustrated text, mostly religious that also was decorated with vibrant and elaborate religious images. The colors used on the manuscripts often served as an attention grabber to the reader and the gold leaf accents on the text, served as a reminder to the reader that this book was special and sacred. Many of the monks that created these manuscripts had the belief that the use of gold in their images would exalt the text above others and would serve as a medium to praise Gold. The use of Gold wasn’t restricted to manuscript only but was also incorporated in mosaics of the period.  This technique of using gold was not exclusive to this time but also continued to be used until the early renaissance. In this manuscript page we can see that Christ is on his throne portrayed as a wise and righteous ruler, very different from early Christian Art, in which he would be portrayed as a young figure and the good shepherd, it is interesting to notice that  even the interpretation of what Christ was has evolved with the art styles, perhaps portraying a more serious and strong leader was necessary during this time in history , where people needed to be reminded he is watching us and that he has the power to judge our actions and the way we live our lives.