Baptistry of the Orthodox, interior: dome mosaic -- Baptism of Christ; outer row -- the twelve Apostles
The practice of imbedding gold leaf in clear glass 'tesserae' began in the early 5th century for use in backgrounds, haloes and lettering. The Christian use of such a worldly, ostentatious material was meant to give the background of mosaic scenes a mystic, other-worldly beauty. Not only that: the exterior of Early Christian edifices were starkly simple, contrasted with the richly decorated interior one could not help but reflect on the homeliness of the outer shell (the body) and the beauty of the interior (the soul).
Artform: ARCHITECTURE, Pre-19th Century
Country/Culture: Early Christian: Italy
Period: 5th century
Style: Late Empire
Museum: © Davis Art Images
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