Identifier

etd-04262012-111647

Degree

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Art

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

When Christian artwork expanded into the grand, newly constructed Christian basilicas of the fourth century, new iconography emerged. The apse was a focal point of the basilica’s interior and provided a novel space for artistic decoration. The church of Santa Pudenziana, located in Rome, contains the earliest surviving apse decoration in a Christian basilica. Shown here is a depiction of Christ surrounded by his apostles. This figural arrangement is familiar because of previously established pagan and Christian imagery. However, at S. Pudenziana, and for the first time in Christian art, four angelic figures and the Heavenly Jerusalem appear in the background of Christ enthroned with his apostles. Therefore, a new message is being portrayed. This thesis examines the origin, iconography, and content of this complex, multi-layered composition, and places the S. Pudenziana mosaic within a wider art-historical context. Through each chapter’s discussion it will become clear that S. Pudenziana’s apsidal decoration was shaped by contemporary Christian doctrine, an understanding of Old and New Testament scriptures, and historical circumstances of the Christian church in the late fourth and early fifth century.

Date

2012

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Savage, Matthew

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