Emperor Justinian and His Attendants

Emperor Justinian and His Attendants

Date 547 CE

Movement Early Christian

Medium Mosaic

Located at San VitaleRavenna, Italy


Here we see a much different type of anatomy from the ones depicted in the fourth and fifth centuries— the bodily forms are elongated and their faces are filled with large, piercing eyes. Though shading has been applied to their robs, the figures look entirely flat and almost “stuck” upon the mosaics themselves. The crossing (or rather combining) of state and church is clear: Justinian carries bread for the Communion rite, and he is placed centrally and flanked both by clergymen and members of his army; further, like the Good Shepherd of Galla Placidia, he is imposed upon an earthly green background underfoot and a heavenly gold background above; even the placement of this panel within the church suggests his special link to the divine royalty.