Imperial Rome and Christian Triumph

Imperial Rome and Christian Triumph : The Art of the Roman Empire AD 100-450

By (author) Jas Elsner

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Western culture saw some of the most significant and innovative developments take place during the passage from antiquity to the middle ages. This stimulating new book investigates the role of the visual arts as both reflections and agents of those changes. It tackles two inter-related periods of internal transformation within the Roman Empire: the phenomenon known as the 'Second Sophistic' (c. ad 100300)two centuries of self-conscious and enthusiastic hellenism, and the era of late antiquity (c. ad 250450) when the empire underwent a religious conversion to Christianity. Vases, murals, statues, and masonry are explored in relation to such issues as power, death, society, acculturation, and religion. By examining questions of reception, viewing, and the culture of spectacle alongside the more traditional art-historical themes of imperial patronage and stylistic change, Jas Elsner presents a fresh and challenging account of an extraordinarily rich cultural crucible in which many fundamental developments of later European art had their origins. 'a highly individual work ...wonderful visual and comparative analysis ...I can think of no other general book on Roman art that deals so elegantly and informatively with the theme of visuality and visual desire. ' Professor Natalie Boymel Kampen, Barnard College, New York 'exciting and original ...a vibrant impression of creative energy and innovation held in constant tension by the persistence of more traditional motifs and techniques. Elsner constantly surprises and intrigues the reader by approaching familiar material in new ways.' Professor Averil Cameron, Keble College, Oxford.

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  • Paperback | 316 pages
  • 237.7 x 244.6 x 96.5mm | 796.24g
  • 01 Nov 1998
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford
  • English
  • 68 colour halftones, 79 black and white illustrations, 16 plans and diagrams, 3 maps, bibliography
  • 0192842013
  • 9780192842015

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Author Information

Ja's Elsner is Lecturer in the History of Art at the Courtauld Institute, London.

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Review quote

a highly individual work ... wonderful visual and comparative analysis ... I can think of no other general book on Roman art that deals so elegantly and informatively with the theme of visuality and visual desire. Professor Natalie Boymel Kampen, Barnard College, New York exciting and original ... a vibrant impression of creative energy and innovation held in constant tension by the persistence of more traditional motifs and techniques. Elsner constantly surprises and intrigues the reader by approaching familiar material in new ways. Professor Averil Cameron, Keble College, Oxford

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Review text

This volume in the Oxford History of Art takes a novel approach in addressing the twin themes of the arts of the Roman Empire and the rise of Christian art. Beginning in the 2nd century AD, with its rich revival of ancient learning and artistic practices, and ending in the 5th century with its Christian narrative, liturgical cycles and pilgramage arts, it is a period which saw some of the most significant and innovative developments in Western culture. The book investigates the role of the visual arts, the great diversity of painting, statues, decorative arts and stonework, as both reflections and agents of those changes. It discusses both Roman and early Christian art in relation to such issues as power, death, society and religion. By examining questions of reception, viewing and the culture of spectacle alongside the more traditional themes of patronage and stylistic change, the book presents a fresh interpretation of the rich cultural crucible in which many fundamental developments of later European art had their origins. (Kirkus UK)

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