ArtHistory - Theodoras Power in San Vitale Katy Fricano Art...

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Theodora’s Power in San Vitale Katy Fricano 12/09/16Art History Justinian and Theodora 1
In the Early Byzantine Period, which was around 530 to 720, great art appears. This art includes great basilicas like Hagia Sophia, and great mosaics like the Transfiguration of Jesus. One of the most known and prestigious basilicas of the time is the San Vitale in Ravenna. This basilica includes beautiful mosaics, including that of a great emperor. In the mosaics, Justinian is shown as the great ruler, along with his empress, Theodora. Theodora’s panel is different than Justinian’s mosaic in many ways. In it, we see Theodora’s status as empress but we also see that even as an empress, and though some might argue against it, she did help as a woman in ancient times. The Early Byzantine time period for art was one that did not focus on naturalism as muchas the periods before them, but it was still splendid. The architecture of the time was one that helped move them forward, like the use of the pendentives. The churches became tall and grand. The light that poured in made it look other worldly, along with the use of the mosaics. The mosaics often had beautiful gold backgrounds to make them more glorified. However, due to iconoclasm, many mosaics were destroyed. This is where mosaics and sculptures of saints were destroyed due to people worshipping “idols,” instead of just focusing on the spiritual aspect of worship. Mosaics served a different purpose in the Byzantine period functioned mainly as expressions of linkage between heaven and Earth, the identification of the divine with the precious (Connor, 2). It also shows the harmony of an empire united under God’s sanctioned representative, the emperor (Connor, 2). Justinian was an emperor during the Byzantine period. His rule was referred to the goldenage of the Byzantine period. Iconoclasm was no longer taking place. Great churches were being erected, great mosaics were being created in these churches. Ancient Greece highly influenced 2
this culture post iconoclasm. In the San Vitale, mosaics in commissioned by Justinian show martyrs holding laurel crowns, Roman senators, and the females look like Roman virgins.

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