Visual History of the World




From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists




Key Ideas:



Andrei Rublev
The Old Testament Trinity
c. 1410s.

See also
collection :

Russian Icons


see also:



The Bible illustrations by

Julius von Carolsfeld "Das Buch der Bucher in Bildeb"

Gustave Dore

William Blak
e "The Book of Job"




Key Ideas:



Since its beginnings as a Jewish sect, Christianity became established as one of the five m ain world religions as a result of its interaction with Greco-Roman culture and philosophy. Christianity, particularly in its organized form as a church, has played an important role in world history since its inception, whether as a state religion or as a powerful competitor to secular authority. It wasn't until the separation of church and state in the modern era that the Church lost its direct influence on political events.

The Central Message and the Early Church


1 The Virgin Mary and John witness
Christ's crucifixion, mural, ca. 740

The Christian image of God is based on that of Judaism; both believe in a benevolent creator and preserver of the world who also demands of man an accounting for his actions.

Christianity's central message, however, is the belief in the incarnate son of God, Jesus Christ, who suffered and 1 died on the cross for the salvation of mankind and was resurrected.

His story and message are recorded in the four 3 Gospels of the New Testament, which is the basis of Christian belief.

3 Handwritten Gospel of John on papyrus,
end of the second century


The Vladimir Virgin with Child.
12th century.
The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia

Dionisii. The Crucifixion. c. 1500.

5 The Apostle Paul, founder
of the Church, Serbian mural, ca.1 265

Early Christianity engaged in an intensive spiritual debate with its Jewish and Greco-Roman rivals. Under the influence of the 5 Apostle Paul, the Church decided upon an active mission to disseminate its message to the heathens and throughout the world.

Up until the seventh century, the Church struggled with the definition of its image of God and its role in the world. Often this resulted in wars and persecution. Socio-politically, early Christianity wavered between the commandment of brotherly love, which required active engagement in the world, and the anticipation of the forthcoming Kingdom of God that is "not of this world." The claim of God and Jesus Christ to exclusive divine status kept the Christians, like the Jews, from participating in Roman cults that the Roman Empire mandated in order to maintain the loyalty of all peoples and cultures in the empire.


See also
collection :

Russian Icons


Andrei Rublev
Apostle Paul.
c. 1420s.
The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia


Theophanes the Greek
The Apostle Paul.


Christianity in the Roman Empire

The Christians proselytized in all of the larger cities of the empire, including Rome, so that by the end of the second century a.d. there were already numerous congregations.

As they were suspected of disloyalty to the rulers, the Christians often experienced fierce persecution and took refuge in the 2 catacombs of the cities; when discovered, they most often chose a 7 martyr's death in keeping with the image of the suffering Jesus and apostles before them.

At this time, however, a stable structure emerged that allowed the Church to survive. The "Constantinian Change" occurred with the edicts of tolerance of 311 and 313 and the further policies of Constantine the Great. Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. In the Eastern Roman Empire of Byzantium, the Christian doctrine of salvation was combined with the ancient cult of the ruler, and the emperor became the preordained advocate ofthefateofman.

2 The Good Shepherd, fresco in Catacomb of Calixtus. Rome, third ń


7 Christians condemned to die as martyrs
await their death in the arena


The Middle Ages and the Rise of the Papacy

In the early Middle Ages, a surge in the development of European civilization and education was sparked by the work of Christian monastic orders.

As a result of endowments, the 4 monasteries also became powerful landowners.

4 The Benedictine abbey Monte Cassino. Italy, founded in 529 by St. Benedict of Norcia

The conversion to Catholicism of the previously Arianist Germanic peoples in the fifth to seventh centuries strengthened the position of the bishop of Rome, the pope.

Primarily through his alliance with France, the pope had won independence from Byzantium and built up a papal claim to jurisdictional primacy as the successor of the Apostle 6 Peter.

6 The Apostles Peter and Paul, tombstone, after 313


Apostles Peter and Paul.
12th-13th century.
The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia


From the time of the 8 imperial coronation of Charlemagne by the pope in 800, popes and the Holy Roman Emperors were closely tied. The estrangement from Byzantium led to a schism in 1054 between the papal Western church and the Eastern Orthodox Church, which endures to the present.

The 9 Crusades to the Holy Land initiated by the Western church between 1095 and the 13th century exemplified Christianity's most intolerant and violent side.

With the 11 Investiture Controversy in the eleventh and twelfth century, the Church won far-reaching independence from lay interference. Under Pope Innocent III (1198— 1216), the papacy reached the zenith of its worldly power—until it went too far. The exile of the popes to Avignon from 1309 to 1377 and the Great Schism of 1378-1417 highlighted that reforms were necessary.

8 Charlemagne is crowned emperor by Pope Leo on
December 25, 800 in St Peter's Cathedral

9 The conquest of Jerusalem by the First
crusade under the leadership of Godfrey of
Bouillon on the Jul ó 15, 1099,
book illustration, 14th century

11 Emperor Henry IV, front, asks Mathilda
of Tuscany to mediate in his conflict with
Pope Gregory VII in the Investiture Controversy,
book illustration


From the Reformation to the Enlightenment


10 Martin Luther at the Imperial Diet of Worms, 1521

The Reformation in the 16th century was a period of social as well as religious upheaval that can be considered the beginning of the Modern Era. In an attempt to return to the original message of the Gospels and prevent abuses of power by the Church, a number of Protestant churches sprang up.

The most important among these were the Lutherans, followers of 10 Martin Luther; the Reformists, followers of Huldrych Zwingli; and the Calvinists, followers of John Calvin.

The first religious wars were ended by the laboriously negotiated Peace of Augsburg in 1555, but the religious disputes broke out violently again in the French Wars of Religion, and above all during the Thirty Years' War.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Christianity and the churches in Europe found themselves on the defensive as a result of renewed self-awareness resulting from the
Enlightenment and the start of the Industrial Revolution. In the 19th century, they allied themselves with the powers of political conservatism. It was only later that they recognized the necessity of reacting to labor issues and socialism. In the "battle for culture" in many countries, the churches lost the supervision of the educational institutions of modern society.


Luther in 1529 by Lucas Cranach

John Calvin by an unknown artist


The Churches in the 20th Century and Beyond

In the 20th century, the Eastern Orthodox Church experienced a period of widespread suppression between 1917 and 1991—or an authoritarian binding into the system of "socialism as it was actually practiced." The churches in Western and Central Europe wavered between currying favor with authoritarian regimes and suppression at their hands. After 1945, the Catholic Church reconciled with the Western democracies and opened to the modern age with the 12 Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). Protestantism experienced an upswing, particularly in the United States.

Since the late 20th century, the Catholic Church has focused on the "young churches" of Latin America and Africa. In Central Europe the Church is largely limited to a role in community work and providing ethical cues. Whether there will be a return to the Church in post-communist Eastern Europe remains unclear.

12 Celebration following the end
of the Second Vatican Council in Rome, 1965


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