Early Christian art

Early Christian art is defined here as the art produced in Europe from the 3rd century to the 7th century. Christian art in this period from about 550 is classified as Byzantine or Byzantine influenced. Although Early Christian art spread across the Mediterranean, our presentation is limited to the art from the territory of the western half of the Roman Empire, particularly Italy and the western Mediterranean. As an exception, some important buildings from Constantinople and a brief description of Coptic art are included in the present and the architecture sections. In this section we present paintings, mosaics, and sculptures; the illuminated manuscripts from this period are treated together with all manuscripts in the Illuminated Manuscripts Section, while Early Christian architecture can be found in the Architecture Section of our collection.

From the first three centuries of the Christian era little of the art has survived, partly because of persecution and consequent destruction, partly because many of the earliest Christians were poor people and slaves. However, the earliest surviving examples of Christian art predate by many years the official recognition of Christianity as a permitted religion in 313.

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Early Christian art
Capitals 3rd-7th centuries
Sarcophagi 3rd-7th centuries
Various sculptures 4th-6th centuries
Catacomb paintings (introduction)
Catacombs of Domitilla 2nd-4th centuries
Catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter 2nd-5th centuries
Catacombs of Priscilla 2nd-3rd centuries
Catacombs of St Callixtus 2nd-3rd centuries
Catacomb of Via Latina, Rome 4th centuries
Other catacombs in Rome 3rd-4th centuries
Various paintings
Mosaics in Rome (introduction)
Santa Costanza 4th centuries
Santa Pudenziana 380-400
Santa Maria Maggiore 432-440
Santi Cosma e Damiano 526-530
Other Roman churches 3rd-7th centuries
Mosaics in Ravenna (introduction)
Mausoleum of Galla Placidia 425-450
Orthodox and Arian Baptisteries 5th century
Sant'Apollinare in Classe 6th century
Sant'Apollinare Nuovo 6th century
San Vitale 540s
Various mosaics
Coptic art
Coptic art (introduction)
Paintings 6th-8th centuries
Sculptures 4th-6th centuries
Textiles 4th-6th centuries

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