“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Pablo Picasso
The Religious Art of Pablo Picasso is an irony because he was an atheist despite being baptized a Catholic. There is a book on the topic that I haven’t read yet, but one of many on my list. There is a review on Goodreads if you are interested. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17739523-the-religious-art-of-pablo-picasso#other_reviews
I am passionate about the renaissance art due to its abundance of prolific artists thanks to the church commissions. One reference said “The governance structures that supported and protected this economic growth—aristocrats, guilds, and monastics—used artistic patronage to reinforce social structures fundamental to civic sustainability: loyalty to family, church, and city/state. Kings, popes, princes, cardinals, poets, and humanists, as well as cathedrals, convents, and monasteries—all sorts of patrons shaped Renaissance artistic culture by engaging artists to fulfil their commissions. A continual supply of patrons ensured a continual supply of artists and artistic workshops, and craft flourished” https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780195399301/obo-9780195399301-0358.xml
In this post I will focus on early Christianity influence on art because that is probably the most extensive and prevaricating art that I am familiar with. The opulence and emotional forces in this time had tremendous hold on the art in Europe. Before the enlightening period of reason the catholic church had monopoly in procuring and enforcing their ideologies upon the unlettered masses.
Europe had been under unrest for centuries with the great divide of east and west. One source simply put it this way “The advantages of the Eastern Roman Empire, variously known as the Byzantine Empire or Byzantium, was able to survive for centuries after the fall of Rome.( lessor skirmishes of neighbouring states until Ottoman invasion)
Though Byzantium was ruled by Roman law and Roman political institutions, and its official language was Latin, Greek was also widely spoken, and students received education in Greek history, literature, and culture.(Hence influence) https://www.history.com/topics/ancient-middle-east/byzantine-empire
Orthodox Christian church in the east developed for the communities in contrast to the Catholicism as religion for the people in the west. One source said aptly “Eventually, while the Eastern Churches maintained the principle that the Church should keep to the local language of the community, Latin became the language of the Western Church.” https://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/subdivisions/easternorthodox_1.shtml
The Catholic church grew to be a powerful entity with unlimited resources and power that influenced the great artist in Europe. The intoxication of political alliances strengthened the countries of France and Italy as sibling rivalry. The novel I have been am working is called “The New adventures of the Musketeers Searching for the Sacred eye” (all going to plan it will be available next Christmas)highlights west hold . Brief video outlying the struggle in Europe with the State and church fighting against mysticism and the Renaissance artist on a previous post. https://2020learningmind.com/2021/10/14/searching-for-the-sacred-eye%ef%bf%bc/
There is very little original art from the first 3 centuries of Christianity because it hadn’t integrated fully until Constantine became a believer. The early Christians were persecuted and treated as a mystical cult that spread under the divisions of small groups in secrecy often. A picture of Christ painted on a wood panel dating back to the 6th century is unique piece early Christian art. Because of copyright I will put link so you can see the picture for yourself. http://projects.leadr.msu.edu/medievalart/exhibits/show/iconography_of_christ/christ_pantocrator
In the east of Europe Icons where the main source of early byzantine art “sacred images representing the saints, Christ, and the Virgin, as well as narrative scenes such as Christ’s Baptism (2013.980a–d) and Crucifixion. While today the term is most closely associated with wooden panel painting, in Byzantium icons could be crafted in all media, including marble, ivory, ceramic, gemstone, precious metal, enamel, textile, fresco, and mosaic.” https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/icon/hd_icon.htm
Duccio di Buoninsegna Italian artist prior to Renaissance. His style was like Byzantium early art. I love the comment the National gallery said about influence of Mary on his work “Byzantine Mary is made softer, more fluid, and volumetric in Duccio’s hands. Religious currents of the time may have affected her transformation—increasingly influential mendicant Franciscan and Dominican preachers espoused an empathetic, humanistic understanding of Christ’s life and sufferings.” https://www.nga.gov/collection/highlights/duccio-the-nativity-with-the-prophets-isaiah-and-ezekiel.html
The emergence of early Christian art has its irony as Picasso said “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls” Instead of having inner glow of art squeezing the heart gently , the threat of the church was convincing the masses of liberation of their souls only through the church.