Byzantine art

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Painting In studying their prototypes the Byzantine artists learned anew the classical conventions for depicting the clothed figure, in which the drapery clings to the body, thus revealing the forms beneath--the so-called damp-fold style. They also wanted to include modeling in light and shade, which not only produces the illusion of three-dimensionality but also lends animation to the painted surfaces. Religious images, however, were only acceptable as long as the human figure was not represented as an actual bodily presence

Peter's (replaced in the 16th century), Saint Paul's Outside the Walls, and Santa Maria Maggiore, among others. The plan often included an atrium, or forecourt; a narthex, or porch; a long nave (central hall) flanked by side aisles; a transept hall crossing the nave; and a semicircular or polygonal apse (east end of a chapel, reserved for clergy) opposite the nave. In front of the apse, the altar was set directly over the shrine. Pagan spoils (stolen, pillaged goods) were used throughout; columns, decorative panels, masonry, and bronze roof tiles from imperial buildings were incorporated in the new structures. Smaller basilican churches were built in large numbers, as exemplified by the Church of Sant!

' Apollinare in Classe (5th century) in Ravenna, and the Church of Santa Sabina (5th century) in Rome.B The Centralized Building Baptisteries, mausoleums, and martyria (martyr shrines) were built in centralized form. They were either circular or polygonal, with the object of veneration--the baptismal font, the sarcophagus, or the holy place--visible to the faithful from the cloister or aisle circling the site. A typical baptistery is that found next to San Giovanni in Laterano, Rome, parts of which date from as early as 313.

Built entirely of spoils, the elegant circular building has massive bronze doors and, for the font, a huge porphyry (very beautiful and hard rock) basin, both from the Baths of Caracalla. A typical mausoleum is the domed, circular Church of Santa Costanza (4th century) in Rome, built as the tomb of Constantia, daughter of Constantine the Great. Her magnificently carved porphyry sarcophagus, now in the Vatican Museums in Rome, stood under the dome. Mausoleums were also built in the equal-armed Greek cross form, such as the famous Tomb of Galla Placidia (5th century) in Ravenna.

The most famous martyria are the domed Church of the Holy Sepulchre (4th century; numerous rebuildings) in Jerusalem, and the octagonal shrine of the Church of the Nativity (4th century; rebuilt 6th century and later) in Bethlehem. Both have adjoining basilicas to accommodate the crowds of pilgrims.The exteriors of Early Christian buildings were generally plain and unadorned; the interiors, in contrast, were richly decorated with marble floors and wall slabs, frescoes, mosaics, hangings, and sumptuous altar furnishings in gold and silver (see Metalwork).

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