Imperial capital until the late 3rd century and home to the papacy, Rome was the city where Octavian was proclaimed Augustus and Saints Peter and Paul were martyred. This lecture series considers how Rome became a Christian city and examines its artistic culture between c. 300 and c. 1200.
The very earliest Christian art and architecture in Rome often amounted to no more than simple signs and inscriptions, and its monuments were almost invisible to view – an ordinary house front, an underground burial chamber along one of the roads leading out of the city. Constantine’s granting of a legal personality to the Church in 313 changed that, or at least accelerated change by embracing a public monumental Christian art and architecture.
Thereafter, population collapse, external pressure, and the emergence of papal administration, reshaped the city, eventually giving rise to modes of art and architecture that from a European perspective could be seen as recognisably Roman. An important aspect of this is material, an interest in recycling architectural spolia, particularly coloured marbles, which promoted lustrousness and colour and favoured columns and mosaics as means of dramatising interiors.
Please note: this lecture series will close to enrolments at 23:59 BST on 27 October 2023.