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Speltz, Alexander / Styles of ornament: exhibited in designs, and arranged in historical order, with descriptive text.
([1906])

The German-Early Christian ornament,   pp. [109]-119


Page [109]

THE GERMAN-EARLY CHRISTIAN ORNAMENT. 
lua]ly, as the political supremacy of a country begins to decline, Art in
that country begins also to decay. The decline of classic art was the natural
consequence of the political weakness and final decay of the Western Roman
Empire, as well as of the decisive 
From a victory which Christianity finally obtained over Heath 
 Carolingian Gos- . . 
 enism. In all the old historic styles there exists an pel in the British
 Museum intimate connection between religion and art. Art (Muller and Mothes).
developed under the aegis of religion and was so 
 strongly influenced by it that a style of art produced under the influence
of a certain religion could never harmonise with any other religion except
that from which it sprung. When, therefore, Christianity received into its
hands the remains of classic art, it was obliged to change and harmonise
them into a style in unison with Christian ideas, tastes, and necessities,
without at the same time entirely freeing itself from classic influences.
On the ruins, therefore, of the Western Roman empire, the German-Christian
States erected a new civilisation changing everything they found to fit the
new condition of affairs, and making use of the peculiar elements of Byzantine
art, then in its full glory to form a new style of art of its own. The Byzantine
influence was so powerful at that time, that it is often a matter of real
difficulty for the art historian to say whether certain works of art belong
to the Early Christian or to the Byzantine style. The antiquities discovered
in the ancient Byzantine city of Ravenna show most remarkable traces of Byzantine
influences. 
 Early Christian art may be regarded as a period of transition the tendency
of which was to free itself alike from Classic and Byzantine influence. It
was only when this latter influence had been entirely over- 


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