Chapter 16: The Classical and Medieval West


-The Greek focus on human potential and achievement led to the development of democracy and to the perfection of naturalistic images of the human figure in art.

-Greek civilization passed through three broad stages, what are they and what are their characteristics?

Euphronios Krater

In the Archaic period the Greeks assimilated influences from Egypt and the Near East


The Greeks honored individual achievement by creating numerous life-size nude male and clothed female figures

The Archaic-style Kouros (Greek for male youth) has a rigid frontal position that is an adaptation from Egyptian sculpture

Polykleitos, Spear Bearer

Classical art emphasizes rational simplicity, order, and restrained emotion.Sculpture became increasingly naturalistic as well as idealized and began to show the body as alive and capable of movement

Ictinus and Callicrates, Parthenon

Based on post-and -beam construction, the Parthenon was designed and built as a gift to Athena, goddess of wisdom, arts, industries, and prudent warfare, and protector of the Athenian navy

View from the southwest

Parthenon Frieze

Architectural Orders

-Doric is simple, geometric, and sturdy
-Ionic is taller and more dynamic than Doric
-Corinithian is complex and organic

Venus de Medici

The Laocoon Group

The art of the Hellenistic period was often produced for non-Greek patrons. The art of this period became more dynamic and less idealized. The work is more expressive and frequently shows exaggerated movement.


The Romans were a practical, materialistic people, and their art reflects these characteristics

Head of an Old Man

Roman portraiture achieved a high degree of individuality rarely found in Greek sculpture

  • What was the Romans’ greatest artistic achievements?
  • The Romans’ greatest artistic achievements were in civil engineering, town planning, and architecture. They created utilitarian and religious structures of impressive beauty and grandeur that had major influence on later Western Architecture.

The Pantheon

Giovanni Paolo Panini, The Interior of the Pantheon

By developing the structural use of concrete combined with semicircular arch and vault construction, the Romans were able to enclose large interior spaces

The dome of the Pantheon diminishes in thickness toward the crown, and it is patterned on the interior surface with recessed squares called coffers which both lighten and strengthen the structure

Roman Painting

The majority of Roman painting known to us come from towns buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius

Early Christian and Byzantine Art

With the decline of the Roman empire and as confidence in the material world fell, people turned inward to more spiritual values.

Christ Teaching the Disciples

Head of Constantine

Old St. Peter’s Basilica

Christians adapted the Roman basilica, or assembly hall, for use in public worship. A basilica was a long hall flanked by columns with a semicircular apse at each end where government bodes and law courts met.

Interior view of basilica of Old St. Peter’s

San Vitale

The most important sixth-century Byzantine church is San Vitale in Ravenna.

Empress Theodora

The arts of the Early Christian period were affected by an ongoing controversy between those who sought to follow the biblical prohibition against the making of images and those who wanted pictures to help tell the sacred stories.

The Byzantine theory was that highly stylized and decorative images could never be confused with a real person.

Interior of San Vitale

Between the sixth century and the twelfth, the Byzantine empire was wracked by the Iconoclastic Controversy, a debate over religious images that at times turned violent.

Christ as Pantocrator with Mary and Saints

Andrei Rublev, Old Testament Trinity

Small paintings called icons are holy images that inspire devotion but are not worshiped in themselves

Byzantine School, Madonna and Christ on a Curved Throne

The Middle Ages in Europe

Early Medieval Art

The art of the early Middle Ages took shape as Early Christian art absorbed a new influence: the art of invaders

Because of their migrant way of life, their art consisted of small, easily portable objects such as items for personal adornment, weapons, etc.

Scythian Animal

Purse Cover

Chi-Rho Monogram


The stylistic term Romanesque was first used to designate European Christian architecture of the mid eleventh to the mid twelfth centuries, which revived Roman principles of stone construction, especially the round arch and the barrel vault. This term is now applied to all medieval art of western Europe during that period.

Detail of the Pentecost


The Romanesque style had lasted barely a hundred years when the Gothic style began to replace it in about 1145. The shift is seen most clearly in architecture, as the Romanesque round arch was superseded by the pointed Gothic arch.

Notre Dame De Chartres

Notre Dame De Chartres, West View

Rose De France Window

Old Testament Prophet, Kings, and Queen

ART 200 CH 15 - Google Slides