11 Paintings, RELIGIOUS ART – Interpretation of the Bible! by The Old Masters, With Footnotes – # 45

Charles Le Brun, Paris, 1619 – 1690 

Saint Mary the Egyptian, c. 1841/1842

Top: Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Bottom: Saint Zosima buried her body with the assistance of a lion

Oil on canvas

Private collection

Mary of Egypt (c. 344 – c. 421) also known as Maria Aegyptica, was born somewhere in Egypt, and at the age of twelve she ran away from her parents to the city of Alexandria. Here she lived an extremely dissolute life. In her Vita it states that she often refused the money offered for her sexual favors, as she was driven “by an insatiable and an irrepressible passion,” and that she mainly lived by begging, supplemented by spinning flax.

After seventeen years of this lifestyle, she traveled to Jerusalem for the Great Feasts of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. She undertook the journey as a sort of “anti-pilgrimage,” stating that she hoped to find in the pilgrim crowds at Jerusalem even more partners in her lust. She paid for her passage by offering sexual favors to other pilgrims. She tried to enter the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for the celebration, she was barred from doing so by an unseen force. Realizing that this was because of her impurity, she was struck with remorse, and upon seeing an icon of the Theotokos (the Virgin Mary) outside the church, she prayed for forgiveness and promised to give up the world (i.e., become an ascetic). Then she attempted again to enter the church, and this time was permitted in. After venerating the relic of the true cross, she returned to the icon to give thanks, and heard a voice telling her, “If you cross the Jordan, you will find glorious rest.” The next morning, she crossed the Jordan and retired to the desert to live the rest of her life as a hermit in penitence.

Approximately one year before her death, she recounted her life to Saint Zosimas of Palestine, who unexpectedly met her in the desert, she was completely naked and almost unrecognizable as human. She narrated her life’s story to him, manifesting marvellous clairvoyance. She asked him to meet her the following year, and bring her Holy Communion. When he fulfilled her wish, she crossed the river to get to him by walking on the surface of the water. The next year, Zosimas travelled to the same spot where he first met her, and found her lying there dead. He buried her body with the assistance of a passing lion. More Mary of Egypt

Théodore Chassériau (September 20, 1819 – October 8, 1856) was a French Romantic painter noted for his portraits, historical and religious paintings, allegorical murals, and Orientalist images inspired by his travels to Algeria.

Chassériau was born in El Limón, Samaná, in the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo (now the Dominican Republic). In December 1820 the family left Santo Domingo for Paris, where the young Chassériau soon showed precocious drawing skills. He was accepted into the studio of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres in 1830, at the age of eleven, and became the favorite pupil of the great classicist, who regarded him as his truest disciple.

After Ingres left Paris in 1834 to become director of the French Academy in Rome, Chassériau fell under the influence of Eugène Delacroix, whose brand of painterly colorism was anathema to Ingres. Chassériau’s art has often been characterized as an attempt to reconcile the classicism of Ingres with the romanticism of Delacroix. He first exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1836, and was awarded a third-place medal in the category of history painting. In 1840 Chassériau travelled to Rome and met with Ingres, whose bitterness at the direction his student’s work was taking led to a decisive break.

In 1846 Chassériau made his first trip to Algeria. From sketches made on this and subsequent trips he painted such subjects as Arab Chiefs Visiting Their Vassals and Jewish Women on a Balcony…

After a period of ill health, exacerbated by his exhausting work on commissions for murals to decorate the Churches of Saint-Roch and Saint-Philippe-du-Roule, Chassériau died at the age of 37 in Paris, on October 8, 1856. More

VAROTARI, ALESSANDRO, called PADOVANINO, (Padua 1588 – 1649 Venice)

Madonna and Child with the Holy Magdalene.

Oil on canvas.

99.5 x 80.5 cm.

Private collection

The Madonna and Child or The Virgin and Child is often the name of a work of art which shows the Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus. The word Madonna means “My Lady” in Italian. Artworks of the Christ Child and his mother Mary are part of the Roman Catholic tradition in many parts of the world including Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, South America and the Philippines. Paintings known as icons are also an important tradition of the Orthodox Church and often show the Mary and the Christ Child. They are found particularly in Eastern Europe, Russia, Egypt, the Middle East and India. More Madonna and Child

Mary Magdalene,  literally translated as Mary the Magdalene or Mary of Magdala, is a figure in Christianity who, according to the Bible, traveled with Jesus as one of his followers. She is said to have witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Within the four Gospels she is named more than most of the apostles. Based on texts of the early Christian era in the third century, it seems that her status as an “apostle” rivals even Peter’s.

The Gospel of Luke says seven demons had gone out of her. She is most prominent in the narrative of the crucifixion of Jesus, at which she was present. She was also present two days later when, she was, either alone or as a member of a group of women, the first to testify to the resurrection of Jesus. John 20 and Mark 16:9 specifically name her as the first person to see Jesus after his resurrection.

During the Middle Ages, Mary Magdalene was regarded in Western Christianity as a repentant prostitute or promiscuous woman, claims not found in any of the four canonical gospels. More Mary Magdalene

Padovanino or Varotari Alessandro Leone (4 April 1588 – 20 July 1649), was an Italian painter of the late-Mannerist and early-Baroque Venetian school, best known for having mentored Pietro Liberi, Giulio Carpioni, and Bartolommeo Scaligero.

Born in Padua, he was the son of the local painter and architect Dario Varotari the Elder, who most probably provided his earliest training. Early paintings show the influence of Titian. He moved to Venice in 1614. He is known to have traveled to Rome, where he was much employed in producing copies of major paintings by major Renaissance artists of the prior generation. In 1619 he worked on the mosaics of the Basilica of San Marcos. In the following years he worked on decorating the interior of the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore. In 1625 he made another trip to Rome. He painted a major battle canvas entitled The victory of the Carnuti (Celts) over the Normans. More Padovanino


Charles Le Brun, Paris, 1619 – 1690 

The Descent from the Cross 

Oil on canvas

H: 72 w: 57 cm

Private collection

This painting is a perfect example of the Baroque style that dominated French painting of the seventeenth century. The bright colors slice against the dark background where the silhouettes are scarcely sketched, and the light emphasizing Christ and a group of grieving women. The figure of the Virgin lying on the ground, overwhelmed with grief, responds to the lifeless body of Christ, cautiously descended by Nicodemus and Saint John, aided by a third personage. A Roman soldier imposes himself in an almost menacing way, the horse prancing, the only movement in this scene of frozen in the emotions.  More on this painting

Charles Le Brun (24 February 1619 – 22 February 1690) was a French painter and art theorist. Declared by Louis XIV “the greatest French artist of all time”, he was a dominant figure in 17th-century French art and much influenced by Nicolas Poussin. Born in Paris, he attracted the notice of Chancellor Séguier, who placed him at the age of eleven in the studio of Simon Vouet. He was also a pupil of François Perrier. At fifteen he received commissions from Cardinal Richelieu, in the execution of which he displayed an ability which obtained the generous commendations of Nicolas Poussin, in whose company Le Brun started for Rome in 1642.

On his return to Paris in 1646, Le Brun found numerous patrons, of whom Superintendent Fouquet was the most important, for whom he painted a large portrait of Anne of Austria. Employed at Vaux-le-Vicomte, Le Brun ingratiated himself with Mazarin, then secretly pitting Colbert against Fouquet. Colbert also promptly recognized Le Brun’s powers of organization, and attached him to his interests. Together they took control of the Academy of Painting and Sculpture, and the Academy of France at Rome.

In 1660 they established the Gobelins, a great school for the manufacture of every class of furniture required in the royal palaces. Brun imprinted his own character on all that was produced in France during his lifetime. He was the originator of Louis XIV Style and gave a direction to the national tendencies which endured centuries after his death. More Charles Le Brun

Pieter Brueghel, the Younger (1564–1638) 

Calvary, c. 17th century

Oil on panel

106.8 × 161.5 cm (42 × 63.6 in)

Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp

The painting is deemed to be one of Brueghel the Younger’s best works.  His setting for the biblical scene illustrating Christ’s journey to his own crucifixion atop Mount Calvary is a Flemish landscape and is full of fascinating details. 

Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564–1638) 

Calvary, c. 17th century


At the right and you can see a troop of soldiers leading the procession up the hill , escorting Christ on his last journey.  The armour depicted of the troops id that of the Spanish army similar to the ones who had sacked Antwerp in November 1576. Ahead of the troops are the two thieves being transported in a cart towards the top.  Unlike the biblical tale, but like how those who were to be executed in Brueghel’s day were moved towards their place of execution.

Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564–1638) 

Calvary, c. 17th century


Brueghel has depicted Christ, bearing his cross,  as a non-descript figure dressed in grey and hardly stands out from the crowd.  He is not the centre of attention in this sprawling painting and yet he has the leading role in the story.  More The Procession to Calvary by Pieter Brueghel the Younger

Pieter Brueghel the Younger, BRUSSELS 1564 – 1637/8 ANTWERP

CALVARY, c. 1615

oil on oak panel

99.9 by 147.5 cm.; 39 3/8  by 58 in

Private collection

In this huge and imposing landscape Pieter Brueghel sets out the scene of Christ’s crucifixion as narrated by the Gospels. The events unfurl on a bumpy plateau, overlooked on the right by a vertiginous series of rocky and forested cliffs, and further back on the left by a cliff top stronghold, while beyond them in the centre can be seen the city of Jerusalem, distinguished by the circular form of the Holy Sepulchre. The scene is viewed from above, the scale of the protagonists deliberately left small to accent their insignificance in the face of nature and the events taking place. Christ and one of the two thieves are already in place upon their crosses, while the soldiers struggle to hoist the third and last cross into place. Behind them in the middle distance a fourth cross still carries the remains of its earlier victim. Behind the right hand cross, almost indistinguishable by their tiny scale, the figures of Mary and her companions can be seen fallen to the ground in their grief. With the exception of a small group of soldiers, who can be seen in the left foreground squabbling and playing dice over Christ’s clothes, all the protagonists have their attention turned away from the spectator and focused upon the figure of Christ. Among them, a curious cowled figure raises the tablets of  the law to the crucified thief above. The soldiers below raise a lance towards Christ, upon which sits a sponge soaked in vinegar, meant to torment the thirst of its victim. All are seemingly oblivious to the great darkening pall which is spreading across the sky from behind the cliffs and towards Calvary and Jerusalem. In the very centre of the picture, the figure of the crucified Christ stands out, pale and isolated against the coming darkness.

Pieter Brueghel the Younger, (1564–1638)

Crucifixion, c. 1617

Oil on panel

Height: 82 cm (32.3 in). Width: 123 cm (48.4 in).

Current location

Museum of Fine Arts (Budapest)

Pieter Brueghel the Younger, (1564 – 1638) was a Flemish painter, known for numerous copies after his father Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s work as well as his original compositions. The large output of his studio, which produced for the local and export market, contributed to the international spread of his father’s imagery.

Pieter was born in Brussels, the oldest son of Netherlandish painter Pieter Brueghel the Elder. His father died in 1569, when Pieter the younger was only five years old. Following the death of his mother in 1578, Pieter, together with his brother Jan Brueghel the Elder and sister Marie, went to live with their grandmother, an artist in her own right, possibly the first teacher of her two grandsons.

The Brueghel family moved to Antwerp sometime after 1578 and Pieter possibly entered the studio of the landscape painter Gillis van Coninxloo (1544–1607). His teacher left Antwerp in 1585 and in the 1584/1585 registers of the Guild of Saint Luke, “Peeter Brugel” is listed as an independent master.

He died in Antwerp, aged 72. More Pieter Brueghel the Younger


SCOLAIO DI GIOVANNI, (circa 1386 Florence 1434)

Saint John, Circa 1405 – 1410.

Tempera and gold ground on panel.

73.4 x 28.3 cm

Private collection

John the Apostle ( c. AD 6 – c. 106) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus according to the New Testament. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome. His brother was James, who was another of the Twelve Apostles. Christian tradition holds that he outlived the remaining apostles and that he was the only one not to die a martyr’s death (excluding Judas Iscariot who died by suicide). The Church Fathers considered him the same person as John the Evangelist, John of Patmos, John the Elder and the Beloved Disciple, although modern theologians and scholars have not formed a consensus on the relative identities of these men. The tradition of most Christian denominations holds that John the Apostle is the author of several books of the New Testament. More

Scolaio di Giovanni said Maestro di Borgo alla Collina 1 ( 1370 – 1434 ) was an Italian painter of Florence during the Renaissance; the end of the Trecento and beginning of the Quattrocento . He made his apprenticeship with Agnolo Gaddi and the works of his maturity demonstrate a readiness to the novelties that animate the Florentine painting of the years 1430. Contrary to what is generally affirmed by the critics, the he would not be a disciple nor a follower of Gherardo Starnina, but presumably a close collaborator, a partner in a ”  compagnia “.

According to historical documents, Scolaio di Giovanni would be the same artist as the Maestro di Borgo alla Collina. More Scolaio di Giovanni

French School of the seventeenth century 

The Serpent of brass 

Oil on canvas

h: 46,50 w: 63 cm

Private collection

The English Standard Version of the Bible and the majority of contemporary English translations refer to the serpent as made of ‘bronze’, whereas the King James Version and a number of other versions state ‘brass’.

In the biblical story, following their Exodus from Egypt, the Israelites set out from Mount Hor, where Aaron was buried, to go to the Red Sea. However they had to detour around the land of Edom. Frustrated and impatient, they complained against Yahweh and Moses, and in response God sent “fiery serpents” among them. For the sake of the ones who were repentant, Moses was instructed by God to erect a “serpent of bronze” which was used to heal those who looked upon it. More The Serpent of brass

17th-century French art is generally referred to as Baroque, but from the mid to late 17th century, the style of French art shows a classical adherence to certain rules of proportion and sobriety uncharacteristic of the Baroque as it was practiced in Southern and Eastern Europe during the same period.

In the early part of the 17th century, late mannerist and early Baroque tendencies continued to flourish in the court of Marie de Medici and Louis XIII. Art from this period shows influences from both the north of Europe (Dutch and Flemish schools) and from Roman painters of the Counter-Reformation. Artists in France frequently debated the merits between Peter Paul Rubens (the Flemish baroque) and Nicolas Poussin (rational control, proportion).

There was also a strong Caravaggio school represented in the period by the amazing candle-lit paintings of Georges de La Tour. The wretched and the poor were featured in an almost Dutch manner in the paintings by the three Le Nain brothers. In the paintings of Philippe de Champaigne there are both propagandistic portraits of Louis XIII’ s minister Cardinal Richelieu and other more contemplative portraits of people in the Jansenist sect. More 17th-century French art 

François-André Vincent, Paris, 1746 – 1816 

The Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew, of after Mattia Preti 

Oil on canvas

76 w: 76 cm

Private collection

Bartholomew the Apostle was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He has been identified with Nathanael,  although some modern commentators reject the identification of Nathanael with Bartholomew.

Bartholomew was born at Cana of Galilee. Ecclesiastical History  states that after the Ascension, Bartholomew went on a missionary tour to India, where he left behind a copy of the Gospel of Matthew. Other traditions record him as serving as a missionary in Ethiopia, Mesopotamia, Parthia, and Lycaonia. Popular traditions and legends say that Bartholomew preached the Gospel in India, then went to Greater Armenia.

He is said to have been martyred in Albanopolis in Armenia. According to one account, he was beheaded, but a more popular tradition holds that he was flayed alive and crucified, head downward. He is said to have converted Polymius, the king of Armenia, to Christianity. Astyages, Polymius’ brother, consequently ordered Bartholomew’s execution. More Bartholomew

François-André Vincent (30 December 1746 – 4 August 1816) was a French neoclassical painter. He was the son of the miniaturist François-Elie Vincent and studied under Joseph-Marie Vien. François-André Vincent was a pupil of École Royale des Éleves Protégés. From 1771 to 1775 he studied at the Académie de France. He travelled to Rome, where he won the Prix de Rome in 1768, and was when he was installed at the Palais Mancini, Rome, where he painted numerous portraits.

In 1790, Vincent was appointed master of drawings to Louis XVI of France, and in 1792 he became a professor at the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture in Paris. He was a leader of the neoclassical and historical movement in French art. He was influenced by the art of classical antiquity, by the masters of the Italian High Renaissance, especially Raphael. François-André was one of the principal innovators of the subjects and themes in French art of Neoclassical style and his works were of a high standard.

He was one of the founder members of the Académie des beaux-arts — part of the Institut de France and the successor to the Académie royale — in 1795. Towards the end of his life he painted less due to ill health, but he continued to receive official honours. More François-André Vincent 


Lot and his daughters

Oil on panel.

11 x 13.5 cm.

Private collection

Lot was a patriarch in the biblical Book of Genesis. Notable episodes in his life include his travels with his uncle Abram (Abraham), his flight from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, during which Lot’s wife became a pillar of salt, and the seduction by his daughters so that they could bear children.

Lot, his wife, and two daughters are saved when God sends two angels to make sure they are out of Sodom before the city is punished for their wicked ways. Lot’s request to have the family flee to the nearby small town of Zoar, instead of the mountains, is granted (Genesis 19:18 – 22). As they came into Zoar, God brought brimstone and fire upon the two sinful cities and totally cleansed the land of their existence. More Lot

Flemish painting flourished from the early 15th century until the 17th century. Flanders delivered the leading painters in Northern Europe and attracted many promising young painters from neighbouring countries. These painters were invited to work at foreign courts and had a Europe-wide influence. Since the end of the Napoleonic era, Flemish painters had again been contributing to a reputation that had been set by the Old Masters. More FLEMISH SCHOOL

CAGNACCI, GUIDO, (Sant’Arcangelo di Romagna 1601 – 1663 Vienna)

Lot and His Daughters.

Oil on canvas.

97 x 114.5 cm.

Private collection

Lot and his two daughters, Genesis 19:30-38,  left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave. 31 One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to give us children—as is the custom all over the earth. 32 Let’s get our father to drink wine and then sleep with him and preserve our family line through our father.”

That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and slept with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.

The next day the older daughter said to the younger, “Last night I slept with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and sleep with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.” So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went in and slept with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.

So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today. More Lot and his two daughters

Guido Cagnacci, (January 19, 1601 – 1663) was an Italian painter of the Baroque period, who produced many works characterized by their use of chiaroscuro and their sensual subjects. Cagnacci was born in Santarcangelo di Romagna, near Rimini. He worked in Rimini from 1627 to 1642. After that, he moved to work in Forlì, where he would have been able to observe the paintings of Melozzo.

In Rome he may have had an apprenticeship with the elderly Ludovico Carracci in Bologna. His initial output includes many devotional subjects. But moving to Venice under the name of Guico Baldo Canlassi da Bologna, he dedicated himself to private salon paintings, often depicting sensuous naked women from thigh upwards. In 1658, he traveled to Vienna, where he remained under patronage of the Emperor Leopold I. He died in Vienna in 1663. More Guido Cagnacci 

Acknowledgement: Koller , and others

Images are copyright of their respective owners, assignees or others

We do not sell art prints, framed posters or reproductions. Ads are shown only to compensate the hosting expenses.

If you enjoyed this post, please share with friends and family.

Author: zaidangallery

I search Art History for Beautiful works that may, or may not, have a secondary or unexpected story to tell. I then write short summaries that grow from my research. Art work is so much more when its secrets are exposed

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.