CLEP Humanities : Analyzing the Content of Medieval 2D Visual Art

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for CLEP Humanities

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Analyzing The Content Of Medieval 2 D Visual Art

Annunciation--fra_angelico

The above painting depicts what biblical scene that was a common feature of medieval art?

Possible Answers:

The Crucifixion

The Annunciation

The Visitation

The Magnificat

The Apocalypse

Correct answer:

The Annunciation

Explanation:

This painting is by the Medieval artist Fra Angelico and known as the Cortona Annunciation. Painted from 1433-1434, it depicts the archangel Gabriel telling the Virgin Mary that she is pregnant with the Christ child. The Annunciation, as a key moment in the Bible, was a very popular theme in Medieval European art. This particular painting was part of an altarpiece in a church in Cortona, Italy, and painted by a priest.

Example Question #1 : Analyzing The Content Of Medieval 2 D Visual Art

In Medieval art, a man dying with arrows in his sides depicts __________.

Possible Answers:

Saint George

Saint Sebastian

Julius Caesar

Jesus Christ

Saint Peter

Correct answer:

Saint Sebastian

Explanation:

Saint Sebastian was a martyr of the early Christian church who died in the Diocletian persecutions of the third century CE. He became a popular figure in medieval art, usually shown as being tied to a tree with arrows in his sides. This image was to convey what an appropriate Christian martyr should look like.

Example Question #3 : Analyzing The Content Of Medieval 2 D Visual Art

The Virgin Mary is usually depicted wearing what color garment in medieval art?

Possible Answers:

Gray

Red

Green

Black

Blue

Correct answer:

Blue

Explanation:

As one of the most revered figures in Christianity, the Virgin Mary was a constant theme of medieval religious art. In order to function as a highly visible symbol in a mostly illiterate culture, many different symbols were used to distinguish Mary. Most important was her robe, which was typically a bright blue color, which denoted expensive silks.

Example Question #4 : Analyzing The Content Of Medieval 2 D Visual Art

In Christian hagiography, which figure is depicted as having a stone in his head?

Possible Answers:

Jesus Christ

Saint Stephen

Saint Paul

John the Baptist

Saint Peter

Correct answer:

Saint Stephen

Explanation:

Saint Stephen is traditionally considered the first martyr of Christianity, and his death by stoning is told in the biblical book of Acts. Due to the circumstances of his death, he was usually depicted with a stone implanted in his skull. Thanks to his position as "the first martyr," Saint Stephen very commonly depicted in Medieval art.

Example Question #2 : Analyzing The Content Of Medieval 2 D Visual Art

Which of the following artistic styles was most likely to feature Christian iconography?

Possible Answers:

Roman art

Renaissance art

Greek art

Gothic art

Impressionist art

Correct answer:

Gothic art

Explanation:

While Christian iconography and themes feature as the most common subjects in Western art, certain periods were more heavily indebted to Christian tradition. During the period of Gothic art, which was roughly synonymous with the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries in Europe, Christian themes were almost the only ones used. Even in royal portraits, such as the Wilton Diptych from England, featured saints and angels next to the King.

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