The beginnings of Early Christian art date to the period when the religion was yet a modest and sometimes persecuted sect, and its flowering was possible only after 313, when the Christian emperor Constantine the Great decreed official toleration of Christianity. Subsequent imperial sponsorship brought the religion popularity, riches, and many converts from all classes of society. Suddenly the church needed to produce art and architecture on a more ambitious scale in order to accommodate and educate its new members and to reflect its new dignity and social importance. Christian Video
The art of this period had its roots in the classical Roman style, but it developed into a more abstract, simplified artistic expression. Its ideal was not physical beauty but spiritual feeling. The human figures thus became types rather than individuals and often had large, staring eyes, “the windows of the soul.” Symbols were frequently used, and compositions were flat and hieratic, in order to concentrate on and clearly visualize the main idea. Although the art of the period intentionally departed from earlier naturalism, it sometimes has great power and immediacy. Christian Movies

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