AP Art History : Understanding terminology that describes Early Christian, Byzantine, and Early Medieval 2D art

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Art History

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Understanding Terminology That Describes Early Christian, Byzantine, And Early Medieval 2 D Art

In a triptych painting, the piece of art is composed of __________.

Possible Answers:

two separate, unrelated panels

many small pieces put together to form a larger whole

a giant painting covering an entire wall

three separate but related panels

Correct answer:

three separate but related panels

Explanation:

The triptych was the most common form of altarpieces in Medieval art, usually being painted by the era's masters. A triptych features three separate panels that can fold up, all on some related theme. Usually, these would feature Jesus Christ in some form, as well as saints, angels, prophets, and even sometimes kings.

Example Question #1 : Understanding Terminology That Describes Early Christian, Byzantine, And Early Medieval 2 D Art

"Insular Art" refers to the artistic style that was dominant in the post-Roman era in which modern European country?

Possible Answers:

Greece

Great Britain

Italy

France

Correct answer:

Great Britain

Explanation:

The term "Insular art," from the Latin "insula," island, is generally used to refer to the art of the British Isles from roughly 600 C.E. to the Norman Invasion in 1066 C.E. This art was widely different from the burgeoning Early Medieval Art in continental Europe. Thanks to the invasion of Anglo-Saxon peoples in Celtic Britain, "Insular Art" blends multiple styles in a unique way, usually focusing on design elements such as metalwork, jewelry, and tapestries.

Example Question #2 : Understanding Terminology That Describes Early Christian, Byzantine, And Early Medieval 2 D Art

What does the term "homunculus" refer to in the context of medieval iconography?

Possible Answers:

A statue of a man (as opposed to a beast or demon)

Christ, depicted as an infant but with adult proportions

An angel, depicted as an infant with wings

The halo painted behind the heads of holy individuals (i.e. saints, Christ, Mary, etc.)

Correct answer:

Christ, depicted as an infant but with adult proportions

Explanation:

"Homunculus" (or "homunculi," plural) literally means little man in Latin as the masculine diminutive for man ("homo"). Within the context of medieval art, this term is used to describe the strange depictions of Christ as an infant with elongated limbs and proportions and a serious and adult-like demeanor. These depictions were intended to represent the dualities of Christ in theology: human and God, young and timeless, earthly and heavenly.

Example Question #3 : Understanding Terminology That Describes Early Christian, Byzantine, And Early Medieval 2 D Art

The term "sedes sapientiae" refers to __________.

Possible Answers:

images of Christ sitting on the lap of an enthroned Mary

images of religious kings

images of the pope on his throne

images of Eve and the serpent in the Garden of Eden

Correct answer:

images of Christ sitting on the lap of an enthroned Mary

Explanation:

"Sedes sapientiae" literally means the seat or throne of wisdom and refers to Mary as a symbolic throne for Christ (due to her status as the vessel of incarnation). Thus, iconographic representations of "sedes sapientiae" often depict Christ sitting on the lap of Mary, who herself is also sitting on a throne.

Example Question #5 : Understanding Terminology That Describes Early Christian, Byzantine, And Early Medieval 2 D Art

What does the Chi-Rho symbol represent in medieval iconography?

Possible Answers:

"Chi" and "Rho" are the first two Greek letters in "Christ," and, thus, served as a kind of monogram for Christ.

As the Latin word for "Cairo," it was a symbol used by Coptic (i.e. Egyptian) Christians to distinguish their sect, made famous for being found on several statues uncovered during archeological digs.

It was the official seal of the papacy and was used as an authenticating "seal of approval" on religious documents.

As the Greek word for "crucifixion," it refers to the early representations of Christ on the cross.

Correct answer:

"Chi" and "Rho" are the first two Greek letters in "Christ," and, thus, served as a kind of monogram for Christ.

Explanation:

"Chi" (X) and "Rho" (P) are the first two Greek letters in Christ, so they do, in a way, serve as a monogram. Chi-Rhos are depicted in a variety of medieval art forms including manuscript illuminations, relief sculpture, seals and coins, and arms and armor.  

Example Question #6 : Understanding Terminology That Describes Early Christian, Byzantine, And Early Medieval 2 D Art

Heated arguments within the Byzantine Empire about the involvement of art in religious worship led to two different periods during which religious images and iconography was banned, and a large quantity of religious artwork was destroyed. The periods during which religious imagery and iconography was banned within the Byzantine Empire are known as __________.

Possible Answers:

the Macedonian Renaissance

the reign of Constantine V

None of the other answers

Byzantine Iconoclasm

Castelseprio

Correct answer:

Byzantine Iconoclasm

Explanation:

Byzantine Iconoclasm refers to the two distinct periods of the Byzantine Empire during which religious iconography and imagery were banned and large quantities of religious art were destroyed. Although the reign of Constantine V occurred during a period of Byzantine Iconoclasm and he may have been directly responsible for the first one, his reign was did not coincide with the second period of Byzantine Iconoclasm.

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