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AHST 1001 | Exploring Art History

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Separation of Sheep and Goats


Artist: Unknown Byzantine Artist Primary
early 20th century reproduction of 6th century original
Dimensions: 41 x 57.5 in. (104.14 x 146.05 cm)
Dimensions Extent: overall
Object Type: Mosaic
Medium and Support: Tesserae, glass in wooden frame
Credit Line: Lent by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Johnston Fund, 1924 (24.144.4)
Accession Number: L2010.01.13
On View: Bellarmine Hall Cast Corridor

The parable depicted here, related in Matthew 25:31-46, tells of Christ’s second coming and his last judgement of humanity, in which he will place the saved (the sheep) on his right and the damned (the goats) on his left. Typical of early Christian iconography, Christ is depicted as a young and beardless man (unlike other, later representations of him in this museum.) The original mosaic is one of a series of panels depicting episodes from the Gospels, located in the Church of Sant’Appolinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy. The basilica was constructed by Gothic king Theodoric, an Arian heretic (see the ostrakon on loan from the Metropolitan Museum fo Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to learn more about Arianism.)

While a reproduction, this work was nevertheless produced in a similar manner to the original mosaic. Cubes of glass (tesserae), colored by metals such as copper, cobalt, and gold, were organized within outlines to make images.




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