"Abbreviated" depictions? : questions on the earliest Christian images

Title: "Abbreviated" depictions? : questions on the earliest Christian images
Variant title:
  • "Redukovaná" zobrazení? : k problematice prvních křesťanských obrazů
Author: Croci, Chiara
Source document: Convivium. 2022, vol. 9, iss. Supplementum 2, pp. [60]-77
  • ISSN
    2336-3452 (print)
    2336-808X (online)
Type: Article
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The first Christian visual expressions are unquestionably characterized by their immediate character. Many of the Old and New Testament images appearing in third-century funerary spaces are in fact reduced to identification of the protagonist and some minimal attributes. Scholars have therefore referred to these images as "signitive" or "abbreviated" depictions. This essay, considering various typologies of objects, the contexts of their creation, and their relation to testamentary narrative cycles, offers insights into the origins of this figurative visual language. The images are shown to result from accumulations of single elements that form networks of salvific concepts, the semantic potential of which was enhanced and oriented according to an associative logic. Indeed, they are not abbreviations of elaborate narrative cycles; in some cases, they reflect visual strategies developed in narrative cycles that enhanced the sense of "signitive" images and served as bridges linking them.