Justinian and his retinue
Justinian and his retinue is as it is named one of the mosaics that are in the Church of San Vitale in Ravenna. It is a mosaic of the first period of Byzantine art. It dates from about the middle of the VI century. Justinian can be seen with his trusted knights, advisers, generals and ministers, all very elegant.
It is a collective portrait with isocefalia (all heads at the same height). In the center is Justinian with a paten filled with gold. The Archbishop Maximian is carrying the cross. After the archbishop, in the background, is the banker Julian, who financed the construction of this church. Behind the Emperor there are two senior officials of the state with toga, the first would be the general Belisarius, conqueror of Ravenna. The personal guard of the Emperor are the others.
Any kind of perspective is not used to represent the depth and the authors resort to mosaic overlapping. The figures are delimited by a thick line.
The translation of the capital to Constantinople and the division of the Roman Empire are two fundamental facts for Western art history. The Roman art, when contact with Eastern Hellenic elements is transformed. The importance of Byzantium is enormous, both for their own artistic creations as being transmitting the Eastern Christian art. The first period of Byzantine art is the one of Justinian, in the VI century.
In conclusion, Byzantine art was the art of the early Christians, and is a type of art where you can perfectly see the difference with the classical Greek or Roman art. The colors and techniques used, even the represented things, make this art a new art.
This mosaic is in the Church of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy.