Art History through the 15th Century

ArtHistory through the 15th Century

Artis probablyamong theearliestmethodsof recordingandstoringsocial,culturalattributesof societies,owingto theeaseofstoring historicalartifacts. Arthistoryintertwineswith manhistoryfrom prehistorictimesto thepresent,hencecan be useddescribesocial-cultural aspectsof thesociety,at thetimetheyweremade.Itis, therefore,importantto protectvariousformsof art,and passthem to successivegenerations.Additionally, itis importantto recoverandrestorevariousartworks, owingto their social-cultural importanceto current and successful generations(Henry 27). Thispaperexemplifiestwo artisticworks,‘theallegoryof war’andByzantine through Early Renaissance. Thepaperanalyzes culturalandstylistic significancesof thetwo artworks, therebyjustifyingtheneedto recoveringandrestoringthesegreatpiecesof art.

TheAllegory of War

Thepaintingby thetitleAllegory of War isdominatedby thehalf-naked woman’sposefrom thetypicalmarblerelief.Presently,thisreliefis preservedin theMuseums of Capitoline in theRoman gardensof Cardinal Cesi to commemorateRubens timesin Italy. Mostprobably,theAllegory of War describesthecaptiveDacia, which is a characterization of theDacia provincethat hadbeensubjugatedin 106 ADby Trajan’s Emperor. Thewomanappearsto be reflectingabout thehorrorsof warin her bowed over positionwith her righthandsupportingher brow.Takinginto accountthehistoricaleventsthat tookplaceduring theRubens’ age,theoilysketchillustratinga figureof a femaleencircledby terrorsof warcould alsosymbolizedNetherland’s provincesthat havebeenconqueredby Spain (Lisa 2).

Mostlikely,theoilsketchwaspaintedin relationto Commission receivedby Rubens in 1622 from Maria de’ Medici. Ruben wrotea letterexplainingwhathadcrossedhis mindwhenhedecidedto painttheoilsketchentitledtheAllegory of War. Hepointedout that,everyfigurecapturedin his paintingrepresentedan idea.Hence,thecentralfigurein thepaintingis Mars, a godof warin Roman ancienttimes,whodashesforwardwith a swordstainedwith bloodandshieldpayingnoheed to Venus (his mistress)andthefiguresof Cupid dancing around her.Further,there are monstersin thepaintingsymbolizingpestilenceandfaminethatdemonstratestheterribleoutcomesof war.Similarly,thepaintinghas a womanwith a wreckedluterepresentingharmonybeingcrushed,andan olivebranchtossedasideto demonstratetheabsenceof peace.In addition,thepaintinghas a figureof a frightenedwomanwith a babyin her arms,indicatingthatthefutureis in jeopardy(Lisa 5).

Thefrightenedladyin black with a tattered veil,deprivedof allher ornamentsandjewelsrepresentstheregrettableEurope,whohas beena victimof misery,rage,andplunderfora coupleof years.Europe ischaracterizedby theglobe,embeddedto a smallangelthat is cross-surmounted to symbolizetheChristian world(Lisa 3). Therefore,theAllegory of War can be based on thetheoryof Baroque allegorywhereruinis its centraltheme.In thistheory,Benjamin illustratesallegoryas a representationthat has beengraduallymarginalized by thepowerof dutyin therealmsof esthetics, a pre-eminence epitomizedin thesymbolof esthetic. However,Benjamin attemptsto createa distinctionbetween allegoryanda symbolstatingthattheromanticsymbolis an alteredformof sacredandrealsymbolism(Michelle 73).

Hisattemptsto distinguishbetween thetwo wereaimedat revitalizing allegoryas a conventionaltechniquewhich is mostsuitableforexemplifyingconceptsas opposedto ideas.During thattime,allegorywasalsotermed as ultimatelyworthlesssince itcould not clearlyelucidateits proliferationof interpretationwherebyanyobjectwasultimatelycapableof showinganymeaning.But,Benjamin’s revitalization of allegory,as wellas his assertionthat is surpasses symbolismby goingbeyond esthetics helpsin visualizingitas a constructivestrategy.Further,Benjamin maintainsthattheallegoryis a mirrorfrom which to viewthingsclearlyandunderstandtheir meanings,as wellas their culturalimplications(Michelle 74).

Byzantinethrough Early Renaissance

Byzantineis a nameusedto referto theeraafter thefallof Rome to thehandsof Visigoths 476 andthesubsequentrecognitionof Christianity as theofficiallanguage.After thefall,Rome wasdividedinto Eastern halfandthewesternhalf,which fellinto a culturalabyssof Barbarian darkAges (Hillsdale78). Allreligiousandculturalaspectsof theroman societyweretherebymaintainedin theEastern half,with its capital,Byzantium, henceByzantine. Therefore,thebyzantine artrefersto artisticworkscreatedandmaintainedby roman andGreek painters,involvingimagesandicons,mainlyproducedduring themiddle Ages. (Henry 89). Byzantine artexclusivelydealswith Christian art,with significantinfluencefrom Egyptian andGreek art.Theartspreadthroughout Byzantine Empire, includingotherareassuchas Italy, Moscow, Russia, kiev andNovgorod, whereorthodox Christianity prospered.Among thenotablemasterpieceof Byzantine wasHagia Sophia in Istanbul (532-537), thechurchof Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki andthechurchof St. Sophia in Bulgaria (527-565). Additionally, thearthas influencedRavenna Mosaics in theBasilicas of San Vitale, Sant` Apollinare in Classe andSant`Apollinare Nuovo (Henry 128).

TheByzantine stylehas moreimpactson architecture,wherependentives wereusedto spreadtheweightof ceilingdomes,thusallowinglargeinteriors.Additionally, newdecorativeglassmosaicswereintroduced,shiftingfrom contemporarystonemosaics.Theartwork, which includedpaintingsandmosaicworksdevelopeddistinctstyleof significantimagery,knownas iconography. Thesemosaicscoverinteriordomes,vaultsandwallsof churches,formingan architecturalandpictorialexpression.Thetopof thecentraldomehas thepantocracy,theall-ruling father,with angelsandarchangels surroundinghim at thebaseof thedome(Henry 80).

Byzantinestylewasintendedto presenttheologyin simplisticforms,with differentcolorsrepresentingdifferentideasBlue representedhumanlife,goldrepresentedtheheavens.Byzantiumartandarchitecturehas progressedthrough varioushistoricperiods,suchas themiddleperiod(600-1100) andthePaleo-loganperiods(c.1100-1450), andis dividedinto earlyperiods,highormiddleperiod,andthelateperiods.Thestyleischaracterizedby theologicaltranslationsto artisticforms,henceservesreligiouspurposes.Thedevelopmentof theByzantine in monasteriesledto theusageof encaustic wax painton woodenpanels,depiction three-dimensional transformationsof theologicalbeingssuchangelsandotherdeities.OtherByzantine artworks are in theformof iconic paintingsin churchesandreligiousbuildings(Hillsdale 78).

Conclusion

TheByzantine eradeclinedby mid-seventh centurydueto Islamic conquestsandpressuresfrom Turks andSeljuk Turks, leadingto thesubsequentdeclineof Byzantine art.Itis imperativeto recoversuchcreativeartwork, owingto their impeccablehistoriesandremarkablearchitecturaldesigns.In its context,allegory is moresuperiorto beautyas thepaintingof Allegory of War is presentedin a harmonioustruthbased on truth,moralgoodandeternalperfection.

Workscited

CecilyJ. Hilsdale.ByzantineArt and Diplomacy in an Age of Decline.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. Print

Langford,Michelle. AllegoricalImages: Tableau, Time and Gesture in the Cinema of Werner Schroeter.Bristol, UK: Intellect, 2006. Print.

Maguire,Henry. Nectar and Illusion: Nature in Byzantine Art andLiterature. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print.

Rosenthal,Lisa. Gender,Politics, and Allegory in the Art of Rubens.New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Print.