Early Christian Art and Archaeology in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Rome

Authored by: Janet Huskinson

The Routledge Handbook of Early Christian Art

Print publication date:  May  2018
Online publication date:  May  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138857223
eBook ISBN: 9781315718835
Adobe ISBN:


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Like material remains from its classical past, the art and archaeology of early Christian Rome continued to be influential in later centuries, particularly to validate contemporary cultural or religious positions. Focusing on early Christian marble sarcophagi, this chapter explores this phenomenon in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Rome, in the context of two powerful movements – the humanist re-discovery of classical antiquity in the Renaissance, and the Counter-Reformation when the Catholic Church made strategic use of historical material to confront Protestant challenges to its authority. Topics considered in the chapter include: the role of early Christian pieces in aristocratic collections of sculpture; the development of an early Christian archaeology, particularly related to the catacombs and new discoveries at sites such as the Vatican; the importance of relics; and various approaches in scholarship, from antiquarians to Oratorians.

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