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Historical Art in Middle Ages and Classical Periods


In this paper two historical art periods are discussed and analyzed to establish their creativity as a continuation of the earlier time. Middle Ages historical art came before the Classical period. Their relations and similarities are also looked in to explain the purpose of continuity and deviation from their traditions that appeared before each of them. Two specific works are referred to in this paper, the Middle Ages is depicted by portrait of Byzantine Madona and a child on a curved throne while that of Madame Recamire represents the classical period. Both periods are referred in this paper to show how they are related and the historical significance of the later historical art period had to the art world. It will be seen how the prevailing conditions dictated the change of existing norms to suit the challenges facing the society. These conditions are mostly the reasons which called for better understanding of the expressions and meanings behind these historical art periods.

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Historical Art in middle Ages and Classical periods

The history presents a wide view of different historic art periods which have evolved ever since human beings existed. With a lot of changes experienced as time passed by, there has been a need analyze the creativity of such periods to understand them well; why they were created and for what reasons. Most of these times are merged especially during their transition periods and therefore scholars developed interests to define well when different historic art periods began and ended. Human creativity became a useful tool as it was used to distinguish distinct art times of the past events by critically analyzing the type of art created at different times.

The Middle Ages period existed in three separate artistic matter times touching the existing economy, the refined medieval courtesy and the conventional art appreciation representing the early Middle Ages (350 to 1050), the high Middle Ages (1050 to 1300) and the Late Middle Ages (1300 to 1450) (Hauser, 1999, p. 109). The start and end times are derived by the learned people coinciding with the fall of Western Roman Empire. The expressions at these times are of considerable consequence compared to the classical times since its accompanying events were becoming modern. However, the middle Ages distinctive characteristics were expressing randomized features such as lose of value as times changed. Many people at such times never imagined in living at middle Ages but imagined they were at a modern period. The distinguishing consequence that remains through its period is the excessive theoretical universal opinion although it did not coincide fully with the advent of Christianity and later found that Middle Age artistic styles was stimulated in the same way as earlier times’ irreligious (Hauser, 1999). These beliefs actually did not bring the entire mystical complexity but did represent the raising desire and impression to human spiritual inspirations.

Due to the existing disasters at such times, it favored desire for modern spiritual satisfaction compared to earlier times. A painting of the Byzantine Madona and a child on a curved throne is a clear indication after the fall of the Roman Empire where their gods could not rescue them from the calamities and thus looked for alternative solution which ended up in advent of Christianity which presented acceptance and future hope (Jacopo & Andrei, n.d.).

On the other hand, the Classical historical art period can be dated back to the period between 1750 and 1820. In the earlier days after mid 15th century, the ancient gods and fictious heroes were realized again at distinct historical times by art practitioners (Osborn & Burgess, 1998) after very long times of neglect. Mainly in Greece and Italy, the concerns were geared towards acquisition of knowledge as a theme of creativity. Human sculptures were publicly praised by the Greeks and irrespective of them defeated by the Romans, the Romans adored Greek art as supreme. Since Romans reproduced the Greek art styles, they can be cherished today as the original were lost

Creativities by artists during the 15th century were upgraded following existing models. Merging the two; Christian beliefs and ancient Greek procedures was difficult as the Greeks were non believers. The portraits at these periods were well defined, uncomplicated, quite and tidy as depicted in the portrait of Madame Recamire, 1800, (David, 2003) where principal divisions, harmony and proportion are merged very well. Most Renaissance artists preferred Roman god names compared to Greek names since many were from Italy. The modern Plato believers considered all the existing disclosures “whether from mythology, the Bible, or Plato” (Osborn & Burgess, 1998, p. 317).

With the help of an important patron like Lorenzo de’ Medici, there proved no much interest in adversity calmness as they concentrated in ancient myth studies that had similarities to original Christianity. The classical mythology brought back the belief in the existing art works as they were denounced earlier with patrons were highly esteemed to causing sexual love. As much as the patrons and artists appreciated the classical figurative illustrations, it was not appreciated at all (Hauser, 1999). As much as they become to appreciate human sculptures, they were transformed to three-dimensional figures from the earlier rigid and typical upright angles which offered them a more natural looks which had strategic poses with the expression of the gods a cover up of the pursuit to know humans.

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During the ancient Greek, social communities were systemized to favor social equality. It became apparent that beauty was dictated by the characteristics of the whole figure/portraits. Artists considered proportion as a means of expressing homogeneity in the prevailing situation at those times. Classical art undoubtedly represented the sensitiveness of civil society.

From the above two different periods, it is clear that there was a need to change the old to modern styles dictated by the prevailing conditions. The old was brought back and understood as the quest to learn more about art of these periods. The old gods/beliefs failed to protect people during the times of calamities and this called for change in belief which brought about Christianity. The two portraits described earlier; Byzantine Madona and a child on a curved throne (Jacopo & Andrei, n.d.) and portrait of Madame Recamire, 1800, (David, 2003) clearly illustrate the message of need for change to bring about better living standards. The reason behind this is that the continuation of the existing traditions was much easier to compile compared to creating completely new traditions. The Classical art period had significance to the art world as the old and forgotten traditions Middle Ages era were brought back and thus consciousness moderation in dealing with different subjects and sensible succession and comparative ratios of forms (Osborn & Burgess, 1998).


David, J. L. (2003). Sculpture of the Greek classical period. Web.

Hauser, A. (1999). The Social History of Art: from pre-historic times to the Middle Ages (3rd ed.). NEW York: Routledge.

Jacopo, C., & Andrei, R. (n.d.). Painting in the middle ages. Web.

Osborn, K., & Burgess, D. (1998). The complete idiot’s guide to classical mythology: Complete Idiot’s Guides. Phoenix, Arizona: Alpha Books.

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