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Divinity through Decoration: Christ in Majesty with Symbols of the Four Evangelists

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The increase of wealth during the twelfth century allowed artists to showcase their talents in churches. The apse titled Christ in Majesty with Symbols of the Four Evangelists in the church of Santa Maria de Mur displays the representation of divinity through its subject matter, technique, and style. In the apse, the main subjects revolve around scenes from the Old and New Testament with Christ as the focal point. For technique, the artist employed fresco painting instead of mosaics to show the images. The style of the apse avoids a sense of realism by hiding the bodies of the figures in the drapery and using the hierarchy of scale.
Considering its age of over eight hundred years old, the Christ in Majesty with Symbols of the Four Evangelists remained in remarkable condition. However, pieces of the original apse, which originated in the Catalan chapel in Spain, have faded. Portions, especially along the bottom, have disappeared over time. Even though it was moved to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, it has not been fully restored. The artist identified each of the apostles in the Christ in Majesty with Symbols of the Four Evangelists, but the writing has grown fainter and this creates difficulty for art historians. Another key factor in the overall story represented has faded, which is one of the lamps or incense holders beneath Christ.
The positions of the stories in the apse show the importance of the figures represented in the images. Christ's placement the center of the apse holding a book with his left hand provides a direct relationship to the Bible. His right hand held up in blessing illustrates his divine power towards the people, who receive the sacrament on the altar below him. Christ is also surrounded by stars, wh...


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...creation stories occurred before the Sacrifice of Cain and Abel, and this would follow the same standard as the stories of the New Testament below.
The representation of divinity was clearly defined in Christ in Majesty with Symbols of the Four Evangelists through its subject matter, technique, and style. Christ acts as the focal point, but the artist also used different subjects from the Old and New Testament to decorate the apse. Unlike the mosaics in the apse of Byzantine churches, the artist employed the technique of classical fresco painting. The artist also applied decoration to the figures with the hierarchy of scale, and through the geometric style in the drapery instead of maintaining a sense of realism.



Works Cited

Kleiner, Fred, Gardner's Art through the Ages: A Global History, Fourteenth Edition The Middle Ages, Book B (Boston: Wadsworth, 2013), 348.


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