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Styles & Periods
Early Christian Art

Though artists of the Early Christian period (29-526 A.D.) used some of the artistic techniques of their Roman neighbors, their concerns were very different.  Artists of the Greek and Roman traditions sought to express what they saw, using sophisticated techniques of foreshortening and shadowing, and developing a deep understanding of how to portray human physiology.  Christian artists, in contrast, focused on art, not for art's sake, but as a teaching tool; they wanted to convey meaning.  Because of the Biblical commandment against worshipping idols, Early Christian artists were careful not to show images of God or Christ himself, and it was feared that a surfeit of realism would confuse new converts accustomed to ornate statues representing deities.  Later, a deep rift would develop between the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity and their respective approaches to "icons" or holy pictures.  For Early Christians, realism and artistic drama were not the goals; instead, they aimed for simplicity and clarity. Art needed to illustrate key Christian concepts, or serve the illiterate as narratives of Christ's miracles.  Until Emperor Constantine¹s conversion to Christianity and the Edict of Milan, which made Christianity the state religion of Rome, early Christians were a persecuted minority and their art was typically executed discreetly. While Early Christian art can seem primitive or unskilled compared with Greco-Roman art, it wasn¹t a lack of ability, but rather a difference in aim, which informs early Christian work.  In the mosaics of fourth century Ravenna, for example, skill and a familiarity with Greco-Roman techniques are evident, but the aim is clarity, not artistry.  The dove, the Good Shepherd, Christ's feeding of the multitudes with loaves and fishes, and the deliverance of the faithful from fire are all typical of the symbolic narratives of Early Christian art.


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Latest Product Reviews

I use these markers for children's illustrations, and they are wonderful. I do wish there were more color options for colors. I've found the light colors too few, especially when working with skin tones These pens last a very long time and work well with all sorts of papers. The tip options make this a great marker for precision coloring.
- Liz B. in Napa, CA
These magnets are awesome! I use them for numerous things, gluing them to flashlights so they won't rattle in a car. Glued one on a old fine paint brush to sweep off my keyboard on my computer, storing it on a file cabinet in the room. Hold a piece of metal to be welded on a vehicle. But the glue utilized must be strong, for the first stuff I used, the magnet tore loose from the flashlight. I use JB Weld-minute weld epoxy.
- ArchieA in Olympia WA
These are some of the best watercolors out there. The range of colors make choices almost endless, and the quality is fantastic. Creamy and wets easily, mixes and blends well, vibrant and nonfading. Love Daniel Smith!
- Scratchmade Journal in Southeastern US

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