Fresco vs Mosaic

A church in its external appearance is distinct from other buildings. A church building can be seen as clothing for the liturgy, in that it follows the form of the liturgy. In this respect, the exterior design works from the inside out; beginning with the size and amplitudes. The relationship between the church and the wall paintings and mosaics are infinitely intertwined. Frescoes were often made during the late Medieval Period and the Renaissance, particularly in Italy.Frescoes (wall or ceiling paintings done on wet plaster) are found frequently in the catacombs. Most depict biblical subjects that reflect the Christian hope of salvation and eternal life (Cunningham, Reich 141).

Mosaics on the other hand, consist of many small pieces of colored glass assembled and strategically placed to create art. Connected to the great demographic rise of Christian converts, the earliest specifically Christian frescoes began appearing in the catacombs of Rome at the beginning of the third century.Christ Teaching the Apostles depicts a Eucharist banquet; one common concept of this time is the communion meal of Jesus at the Last Supper as an outlook of the holy banquet that anticipated all Christians in the next life. The Christ Teaching the Apostles seems to be dull; the colors are running together as if showing the true feelings people held at that time. The feeling that they were realists and living for eternal life (needn’t be any colored glass per say).The frescoes lead to future artistic themes such as the mosaic; becoming more elaborate over the years.

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The mosaic of Theodora shows her inner beauty and is lit up by the array of colors of glass. The gold background of the empress created a light that reflected the surface as a symbol of Christ’s self proclaimed roll as “light of the world. ” There is a lack of naturalism and a love for elaborate patterns (Empress Theodora) that the opposing fresco shows perfectly.The mosaic’s uneven surface that reflects the light is created by setting the small pieces that make up the mosaic less than fully flesh with the wall (Cunningham, Reich 164). Theodora is shown holding a chalice complementing the bread basket held by her husband, the emperor. The depiction looks exactly what scholars are disagreeing over; it looks as if the royal couple is bringing gifts for the celebration of the liturgy.

As stated on page 165 of our textbook, it was crucial for rulers to bring gifts, such as the ones shown, to the most important churches.The Christ Teaching the Apostles artwork shows a man who seems to be the center of everyone who is circled around him; followers to the higher figures. The mosaic on the top of page 164 shows the imperial group; the ones closest to the empress seem to be more individualized like her and the ones off in the background appear to be watching and awaiting something important. To one, a piece of art could be a meadow with birds, bees, and squirrels; to another, it could be a mixture of colors that run together, creating chaos.Artwork consists of many elements alike and different that constitutes a whole piece. Whether frescoes or mosaics, something is defined by any piece of artwork we look at.

Works Cited Cunningham, Lawrence and John Reich. Culture and Values: A Survey of the Humanities. Wadsworth. 2010, 2006. Print. Dictionary. LLC. Copyright.

2011. Web. 29 April 2011. <www.

dictionary. com>. Empress Theodora. 2011. Web. 28 April 2011. <http://www. stockton.

edu/~fergusoc/lesson4/jump6. htm>.

Author: Irvin Brady


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