Artis Divina - Where Artists find ways to follow God

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Earliest depictions of Christ

The British Museum says that this Roman 4th C. mosaic discovered in England in 1963, at Hinton St. Mary, Dorset, is the earliest known representation of Christ. (the two greek letters chi and ro, [X and P] behind the head indicate that this is Christ. The Chi-ro monogram refers to His name, and was the usual symbol of early Christianity.

I'd maybe take issue with the statement calling this the earliest, as the early catacombs had depictions of the Good Shepherd, a common early aspect of Christ depicted, as seen below; but as also seen below, another 4th C. catacomb painting, of Christ as Alpha and Omega. Both pieces of Art are incredibly early, and probably both are the first directly attributable images of the Christ, in a deity image.

Commodilla Catacomb
First image of Christ in a beard,
late 4th C.

Christ the Good Shepherd
early Christian - 3rd C.
painting on ceiling, S. Callisto catacomb

early Christian
the earliest iconography, San Callisto

5th C. Coptic textile


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