THE RULE OF CHRISTIANITY
It was during these times that most countries gradually came under the influence of the Catholic religion which rejected pagan rites and images and imposed its art standards instead. Everything was thus turned towards Christian symbols though some artists came to take some daring liberties during the construction of churches. Today, people visiting certain cathedrals are baffled when they come across some incredible statues and reliefs that have more to do with lust than religion. Nevertheless, Christianity became the main driving force regarding the works of artists of the Middle Ages. In addition, many among them were monks as the Church was the only art creating centre and these artists were above all dedicated to working in churches carving statues or producing wall paintings and prayer books miniatures.
Being monopolised by the Church, the art trade thus suffered a 1000-year freeze until the end of the 14th Century when well-off families started to decorate their houses with statues and paintings. These however kept a strong religious meaning but many artists had started to develop their own personalities especially in Italy.
Already , during the 13th Century, some of them had come to leave their names to posterity but as far as the art trade was concerned things only evolved 200 years later.
A major factor in the development of art was the unearthing in Italy of Roman statues at the end of the 14th Century. Many artists were then subdued by these spectacular works of art which bore evidence of the existence of a previous highly-developed civilisation and they naturally came on to adapt their styles accordingly. This new awareness played a great part in the Renaissance movement process and drove many artists to some sort of general self-consciousness about their real abilities and talents. Consequently, they managed to free themselves further from the heavy tutelage of the Church put on them so far.
Monks found that their long-kept secrets in the field of art had become practically obsolete especially as the statues unearthed in several archaeological sites were there not only to confirm the existence but also the high degree of the sophisticated form of Roman culture. Such finds almost coincided with several changes in architecture and in painting which were to set new patterns.