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Early Christian, Medieval & Gothic
325 - 1,500

Click here to Download Reading Packet with Activities
Each activity is worth points & will be graded.

Significance/Theme: Religion

Art & Culture:

Early Christian Art (325-800)

  • Christians practiced their religion in Rome in secret from the Roman Empire
  • Small & private objects carved from wood or ivory
  • Secret catacomb chapels
  • Images similar to Classical art - Christ depicted without beard
  • Later styles changed & emphasized the spiritual nature & rejected classical styles
  • Many symbols were used to identify saints & ideas for most could not read
  • Also secret from authorities
    • Dove symbolizes purity
    • Fish & lamb symbolizes Jesus

Gothic Architecture (1150-1500)
  • Most important medieval art creation was the church building
    • Almost all other art was created to be a part of the church (paintings, sculpture)
    • Original churches small domed, simple design
    • Later developed larger building with round arches, small towers
    • Lastly builders discovered flying buttresses to support high roofs, pointed arches, & large windows
    • Colored glass- stained glass windows
    • Flying buttress for exterior wall support
    • Rose window is a large circular window of stained glass
    • Spire, steeple with sharp point, angled pyramidal structure atop a tower
    • Gargoyle were to scare away unwanted spirits, but their practical purpose was actually decorative rain spouting

Medieval Decorative Art (800-1500)
  • Objects became art themselves
    • Transformed useful objects into works of art
    • Medieval churches & castles had luxurious furnishings but were not comfortable
    • High ceilings, floors cold stone or hard packed earth
    • Drafty, no heat, maybe a fireplace
    • Cold walls hung with tapestries of saints & legends
    • Bayeux Tapestry - 230ft long embroidery with pictures stitched in thread

Medieval Book Art (800-1500)
  • All books were written by hand
    • Most copied by monks & sometimes decorated my pro. artists
    • Decorated initial letters
    • Illumination - bright decoration reflected light
    • Most books were made for churches or monasteries
    • Some wealthy persons own their own small prayer books
    • Made of parchment & covered in leather

Late Gothic Art (1400-1500)
  • Late Middle Ages painted on wooden panels
    • Had always used quick drying temperas
    • Late Gothic discovered oil glaze painting
    • Able to blend colors, soft edges, & rich shadows
    • real landscapes
    • People started to be more aware of & record world around them
    • Wood cut prints carved into block & painted with ink
    • Letter printing was also discovered in this 15th century
    • Ordinary people could afford printed pictures & books

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Project Sheet PDF


  • Identify & describe major works in Art History
  • Illustrate using Mixed Media

Understand the artistic trends of the Medieval & Gothic era and design using the visual themes of the time.

After completing the required reading & activities in the Art History Packet, please use the provided bag of model magic dough & length of pipe, to mold a Gargoyle of the time period. Next using several mixed medias of pens, markers & inks, create your own Illuminated Manuscript around a verse or prom that you have selected in the style of the time period. The appropriate parchment paper is available and should all be done to the criteria as detailed in PDF above.

Key Points:
From Class Lecture on Medieval/Middle Ages & Reading Packet with Activities
  • 400 -1,400AD
  • After fall of roman Empire
  • Christian church provided unity & motivation
  • Major art forms -decorative arts, book art & cathedrals

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