Title page for ETD etd-04262012-111647

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Franzella, Rebecca
Author's Email Address rfranz2@lsu.edu
URN etd-04262012-111647
Title Seeing the Divine: The Origin, Iconography, and Content of Santa Pudenziana's Apse Mosaic
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Art
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Savage, Matthew Committee Chair
Mauck, Marchita Committee Member
Zucker, Mark Committee Member
  • Old Testament scripture
  • New Testament scripture
  • apse
  • pagan imagery
  • mosaic
  • winged beasts
  • New Jerusalem
  • iconography
  • Early Christian basilica
  • Early Christian art
  • S. Pudenziana
Date of Defense 2012-04-16
Availability unrestricted
When Christian artwork expanded into the grand, newly constructed Christian basilicas of the fourth century, new iconography emerged. The apse was a focal point of the basilica’s interior and provided a novel space for artistic decoration. The church of Santa Pudenziana, located in Rome, contains the earliest surviving apse decoration in a Christian basilica. Shown here is a depiction of Christ surrounded by his apostles. This figural arrangement is familiar because of previously established pagan and Christian imagery. However, at S. Pudenziana, and for the first time in Christian art, four angelic figures and the Heavenly Jerusalem appear in the background of Christ enthroned with his apostles. Therefore, a new message is being portrayed. This thesis examines the origin, iconography, and content of this complex, multi-layered composition, and places the S. Pudenziana mosaic within a wider art-historical context. Through each chapter’s discussion it will become clear that S. Pudenziana’s apsidal decoration was shaped by contemporary Christian doctrine, an understanding of Old and New Testament scriptures, and historical circumstances of the Christian church in the late fourth and early fifth century.
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