Date of Award
Art and Art History
In this thesis, I explore the impact of Greco-Roman pagan motifs as well as women leaders and officials on the development of Early Christian art by analyzing catacomb paintings, sarcophagi, and minor arts such as finger rings and carved gemstones. I also discuss surviving primary sources written by Tertullian, Eusebius, St. Jerome, and Clement of Alexandria, to gain a better understanding of anti-art views in the first few centuries of the Church’s rise to power. These anti-art sentiments were often rooted in attempts to disassociate themselves from pagan practices while Early Christian art was emerging amongst the lower classes who were influenced by ubiquitous pagan artistic traditions and imagery. I also refute the common claim that Christians did not produce artworks prior to 200 CE by examining minor and non-traditional arts and by discussing the social and artistic impact of gender, class, and power dynamics in the Early Christian period. Minor arts and works produced for and by lower and middle classes, women, children, and people of color are almost always overlooked in the study of Late Antiquity. My goal is to shed some light on these perspectives and influences which will provide a more comprehensive, and accurate, perception of the timeline and development of Early Christian art.
Murry, Rowan, "Greco-Roman Paganism and Women Leaders: The Foundation of Early Christian Art" (2021). Honors Theses. 1770.
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