AP Art History : Early Christian, Byzantine, and Early Medieval 2D Art

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Art History

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Early Christian, Byzantine, And Early Medieval 2 D Art

In Medieval Art, a figure depicted wearing a robe of camel hair represents __________.

Possible Answers:

John the Evangelist

Paul the Apostle

John the Baptist

Peter

Correct answer:

John the Baptist

Explanation:

John the Baptist is one of the most significant figures in Christian history, and was a frequent figure in Medieval art. He is easily identified with his cloak of camel hair, a description taken from the Gospel of Mark. John the Baptist is also usually depicted with a dove, as both were seen as signals of the coming Messiah in Jesus Christ.

Example Question #1 : Early Christian, Byzantine, And Early Medieval 2 D Art

Bayeuxtapestryscene57

The intent behind the creation of this work of art is best stated to be _________________.

Possible Answers:

a counterpoint to English propaganda about the claim of William to the English throne

a detailed reflection of a legendary founding myth

an historical record of the invasion of England by William, Duke of Normandy

the glorification of William the Conqueror, King of England

Correct answer:

the glorification of William the Conqueror, King of England

Explanation:

The Bayeux Tapestry was notable as one of the first large scale pieces of art to celebrate and record a massive military victory in Europe since the Romans. As painting and sculpture had significantly faded in scale since the fall of the Roman Empire, tapestry was one of the few artistic mediums that was available to the Norman leaders who created it. With William the Conqueror being a foreign King in England, it also was created to glorify William and show the failings of the defeated English armies.

Image is in the public domain, accessed through Wikipedia Media Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Odo_bayeux_tapestry.png

Example Question #1 : Early Christian, Byzantine, And Early Medieval 2 D Art

All of the following characterize Byzantine art except _________________.

Possible Answers:

figures seem to float above ground

backgrounds are usually gold

the style is strongly realistic and naturalistic

figures appear mostly flat

Correct answer:

the style is strongly realistic and naturalistic

Explanation:

Key words identifying Byzantine art are flat, floating, frontal, and gold. Rather than the realism and naturalism of Greco-Roman art, Byzantine art is focused on the spiritual or other-worldly. Therefore, it is less realistic, and shows its figures as more floating and unconnected with this world.

Example Question #2 : Early Christian, Byzantine, And Early Medieval 2 D Art

Meister von san vitale in ravenna 003

The figure depicted in the center of this work is _________________.

Possible Answers:

Saint Peter

Jesus Christ

Emperor Justinian I

Saint Augustine of Hippo

Correct answer:

Emperor Justinian I

Explanation:

This work of art is known as "The Justinian Panel," precisely because it depicts the Emperor Justinian I of the Byzantine Empire, also known as the Eastern Roman Empire. Justinian reconquered the fallen Western portion of the Roman Empire, which included the Italian Peninsula, where this mosaic is located in Ravenna's Basilica of San Vitale, and he is appropriately represented in honor and glory. While surrounded by bishops and officials, Justinian is the only figure in the traditional "Tyrian purple" of Royalty in the Roman Empire and Medieval Europe, as well as being shown with a posthumous halo, showing his status as a Christian saint.

Image accessed through Wikipedia Media Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Emperor_Justinian_%26_entourage_in_St_Vitale,_Ravenna.JPG

Example Question #1 : Early Christian, Byzantine, And Early Medieval 2 D Art

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

Possible Answers:

three separate but related panels

two separate, unrelated panels

a giant painting covering an entire wall

many small pieces put together to form a larger whole

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:

France

Greece

Great Britain

Italy

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 #1 : Early Christian, Byzantine, And Early Medieval 2 D Art

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

Possible Answers:

An angel, depicted as an infant with wings

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

Christ, depicted as an infant but with adult proportions

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 #1 : Early Christian, Byzantine, And Early Medieval 2 D Art

The term "sedes sapientiae" refers to __________.

Possible Answers:

images of the pope on his throne

images of Eve and the serpent in the Garden of Eden

images of Christ sitting on the lap of an enthroned Mary

images of religious kings

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 #21 : Ap Art History

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

Possible Answers:

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.

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.

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

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 #1 : 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

Castelseprio

the reign of Constantine V

Byzantine Iconoclasm

None of the other answers

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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