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Christian art, which was initially influenced by the illusionary quality of classical art, started to move away from representation and instead pushed toward abstraction. Artists began to abandon classical artistic conventions like shading, modeling and perspective—conventions that make the image appear more real. They no longer observed details in nature to record them in paint, bronze, marble, or mosaic.

Fibulae Fibulae (singular: fibula) are brooches that were made popular by Roman military campaigns. They all consist of a body, a pin, and a catch. Ornate fibulae became all the rage in the early middle ages, and are one of the most commonly found objects in barbarian* grave sites. Grave goods like fibulae provide the most concrete cultural information about barbarians, due to the sparse amount of written documentation about them. The diverse ethnic groups were constantly borrowing from one…

Carrow Psalter, Adoration of the Magi, Walters Manuscript W.34, fol. 33v detail by Walters Art Museum Illuminated Manuscripts, via Flickr

Enthroned Virgin, Scandinavian, perhaps from Gotland, c.1150-1200; her symbolic attributes include her mantle and the crown that signifies that she is queen of heaven. (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

by Seiichi Hayashi: by Japanese illustrator Seiichi Hayashi

Lady with the Rose (Charlotte Louise Burckhardt), 1882 John Singer Sargent (American, 1856–1925)

Honoré Daumier (French, 1808–1879). The Laundress, 186[3?]. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Bequest of Lillie P. Bliss, 1931 (47.122) #paris

Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858). Maiko Beach, Harima Province, from the series Views of Famous Places in the Sixty-Odd Provinces, ca. 1853. Japan. Edo period (1615–1868). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The Howard Mansfield Collection, Purchase, Rogers Fund, 1936 (JP2509)

Stained Glass of St George 1400-1410 Southern Germany Coloured glass, lead l 59 cm, w 39 cm This is one of the earliest examples of stained glass in the Hermitage. Its simple and succinct design is still totally Gothic in style. The image of St George appears often in 13th-century Western European art, as he was the patron saint of the Crusaders. In Germany at this time he was depicted almost as frequently as the Madonna.

Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858). Revelers Returned from the Tori no Machi Festival at Asakusa, from the series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 1857. Japan. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Rogers Fund, 1914. S)