Christian art plays a significant role in the global culture, as since its inception, a vast number of religious art masterpieces have been created. The history of Christianity has more than two thousand years, and it is one of the three leading world religions. It had a massive impact on the worldview of society and its development. During the dawn of Christianity, a myriad of churches and temples were built around the world. Many great artists took part in their decoration, so we can safely say that religion and art are very much intertwined.
Since ancient times, a wax tempera painting technique has had a great influence on Christian art. It was based on drawing with melted wax paints. This painting technique emerged in Ancient Greece and then gradually reached the world of Christianity. Many examples of early Christian art were painted using wax tempera, one of the varieties of encaustic, characterized by the vibrancy and extraordinary brightness of the paint applied. Among the first and most prominent icons executed in this style was the icon of Christ Pantocrator, the most ancient and famous image of Jesus Christ.
It is also interesting that according to the belief, the very first icon was actually an imprint of the face of Jesus Christ. It was created on His way to Calvary when one woman wiped Christ’s face with her white handkerchief. To this day, this legendary religious image is called the “Veil of Veronica” by the name of the woman who gave Jesus the piece of cloth. Its other names are Savior Made Without Hands and the Image of Edessa.
The first man-made piece of old religious icons is the sacred image of the Mother of God. According to the legend, its author was a Christian saint, one of the seventy disciples of Jesus, the Evangelist Luke. In addition to creating the icon of the Theotokos, Saint Luke is credited with the icon of two Holy apostles – Paul and Peter, as well as about seventy other images depicting the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Nevertheless, up until the reign of Constantine the Great, little can be said with certainty about Christian art. The only sufficiently complete source of relevant information is perhaps the paintings of the Roman catacombs, where the graves of early Christian believers are located. However, most likely, there were many other early Christian art masterpieces existed at that time, which, unfortunately, did not survive to this day.