The Medieval era in Europe spans from the fall of the Roman Empire (476 A.D.) to the start of the Renaissance (the early 1500s) and its visual culture is sometimes misunderstood as unskilled, rather than deeply stylized. Medieval art is generally recognized for its figures’ elongated proportions; flat, gold backgrounds; and religious iconography. Medieval artists eschewed the naturalism found in Greco-Roman sculptures before it and the Renaissance paintings that followed. Unrealistic figures, unreasonably muscular babies, and flat backgrounds emphasize that the subjects belongs to a spiritual realm with different rules of time and space—not the earthly, sensible world of the viewers.
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