To appreciate the full extent of the changes in Middle Ages Art and the Early Renaissance it is helpful to understand its fore-runner - Byzantium Art and its effects on art during the Middle Ages.
Effects on Middle Ages Art - Byzantine Art
The capitol of the Roman Empire was Byzantium, renamed Constantinople. The Roman Empire was spit into two sections - the Eastern and Western part of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire fell when the German Visigoths, led by Alaric, sacked Rome. The Western part of the Empire disintegrated but the Eastern, or Byzantium Empire, stayed in tact. The Catholic religion became divided in the
Great Schism. Early Middle Ages Art reflect the differences between the development of the Catholic religion in the west and the Byzantium Empire. Dark Ages or early Middle Ages Art was created largely for the Eastern Orthodox Church. The early Middle Ages art style was referred to as Byzantine Art. The style of Byzantium Art was characterised by:
- Pietistic painting (religious art)
- Artists were members of religious houses such as monasteries
- There were no sculptures as these were looked upon as a form of idolatry
- Sombre tones
- Byzantine Art was totally flat - one dimensional. There was no perspective
- There were no shadows
- Figures in Byzantine Art were generally depicted front-facing
- Byzantine Art featured long, narrow and solemn faces
- There was no attempt to portray realism in sombre Byzantine Art
Early Middle Ages Art in what was the Western Empire - Romanesque Art
The Western Empire (Europe) was dominated by warring factions and their quest for conquest and power . Early Middle Ages Art was initially restricted to the production of Pietistic painting (religious art) in the form of illuminated manuscripts, mosaics and fresco paintings in churches. There were no portrait paintings. The colors were generally muted.
Medieval Gothic Art - Advances of Art in the Middle Ages
The Later Middle Ages saw the emergence of Gothic Art and the advances of art in the Middle Ages.