13 Paintings, RELIGIOUS ART – Interpretations of the Bible! by The Old Masters, With Footnotes # 56

Vincent van Gogh, (1853 – 1890)

Pietà (after Delacroix), c. September 1889 

Oil on canvas

73 cm x 60.5 cm 

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

Van Gogh based his Pietà on a lithograph of a painting by Eugène Delacroix (below). In fact, it is more a variation on the original work than a copy. From Delacroix, Van Gogh took the theme of the Virgin Mary mourning the dead Christ, as well as the composition. He added his own colour and personal signature.

The painting resulted from an accident. Van Gogh wrote, ‘that lithograph of Delacroix, the Pietà, with other sheets had fallen into some oil and paint and got spoiled. I was sad about it – then in the meantime I occupied myself painting it, and you’ll see it one day.’ The lithograph has survived, complete with stain. More on this work

The Pietà is a subject in Christian art depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus, most often found in sculpture. As such, it is a particular form of the Lamentation of Christ, a scene from the Passion of Christ found in cycles of the Life of Christ. When Christ and the Virgin are surrounded by other figures from the New Testament, the subject is strictly called a Lamentation in English, although Pietà is often used for this as well, and is the normal term in Italian. More the Pietà

Vincent van Gogh (born March 30, 1853, Zundert, Neth.—died July 29, 1890, Auvers-sur-Oise, near Paris, France). Dutch painter, generally considered the greatest after Rembrandt, and one of the greatest of the Post-Impressionists. The striking colour, emphatic brushwork, and contoured forms of his work powerfully influenced the current of Expressionism in modern art. Van Gogh’s art became astoundingly popular after his death, especially in the late 20th century, when his work sold for record-breaking sums at auctions around the world and was featured in blockbuster touring exhibitions. In part because of his extensive published letters, van Gogh has also been mythologized in the popular imagination as the quintessential tortured artist. More on Vincent van Gogh

Eugène Delacroix, 1798 – 1863

Pietà, c. 1850

Oil on canvas

35 × 27 cm

Museum National Museum, Oslo

Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix (26 April 1798 – 13 August 1863) was a French Romantic artist regarded from the outset of his career as the leader of the French Romantic school.

As a painter and muralist, Delacroix’s use of expressive brushstrokes and his study of the optical effects of colour profoundly shaped the work of the Impressionists, while his passion for the exotic inspired the artists of the Symbolist movement. A fine lithographer, Delacroix illustrated various works of William Shakespeare, the Scottish author Walter Scott and the German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Delacroix took for his inspiration the art of Rubens and painters of the Venetian Renaissance, with an attendant emphasis on colour and movement rather than clarity of outline and carefully modelled form. Dramatic and romantic content characterized the central themes of his maturity, and led him not to the classical models of Greek and Roman art, but to travel in North Africa, in search of the exotic. Friend and spiritual heir to Théodore Géricault, Delacroix was also inspired by Lord Byron, with whom he shared a strong identification with the “forces of the sublime”, of nature in often violent action.

However, Delacroix was given to neither sentimentality nor bombast, and his Romanticism was that of an individualist. In the words of Baudelaire, “Delacroix was passionately in love with passion, but coldly determined to express passion as clearly as possible.” MoreFerdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix

Sir Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish (1577 – 1640)

The Feast of Herod, c. 1635 – 1638

Oil on canvas

 208.3 x 271.5 x 5 cm

National Galleries of Scotland

Herodias’ daughter, Salome, had danced so beautifully that Herod had promised to grant her any wish. Prompted by Herodias, Salome asked for the head of John the Baptist. This was Herodias’ revenge for the Baptist’s outspoken criticism of her marriage to Herod. Here Salome presents Saint John the Baptist’s head to King Herod. Herod shrinks back in horror. To his left, Herodias prods the Baptist’s tongue with a fork. Rubens conveys the dramatic moment through the actions and expressions of his larger than life size figures, his rich colours and bold contrasts of light and shadow. The picture was probably painted for Gaspar de Roomer, a Flemish merchant based in Naples, and inspired a number of Italian artists. More on this painting

Sir Peter Paul Rubens (28 June 1577 – 30 May 1640) was a Flemish Baroque painter. A proponent of an extravagant Baroque style that emphasized movement, colour, and sensuality, Rubens is well known for his Counter-Reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects.

In addition to running a large studio in Antwerp that produced paintings popular with nobility and art collectors throughout Europe, Rubens was a classically educated humanist scholar and diplomat who was knighted by both Philip IV of Spain and Charles I of England.  More Sir Peter Paul Rubens

Paul Delaroche, (1797-1856)

THE GUILLOTINE 

Oil on canvas

41 x 63 1/2 in., 46 x 78 1/2 in

Private Collection

The scene depicted here is the 1794 guillotine deaths of the Martyrs of Compiegne, the sixteen Carmelite nuns who were sentenced to death during the Reign of Terror. During the anti-clericalism of the French Revolution, the nuns refused to obey the mandate that suppressed their monastery. They were arrested, imprisoned and brought to Paris where they were condemned as traitors and sentenced to death. On July 17, 1794, this group of sixteen nuns were guillotined. The novice, Sister Constance, was the first to die, followed by the lay sisters and ending with the prioress, Mother Teresa of St. Augustine. More on this painting

Paul Delaroche (Paris, 17 July 1797 – 4 November 1856) was a French painter. He became famous in Europe for his melodramatic scenes that often portrayed subjects from English and French history. The emotions emphasised in Delaroche’s paintings appeal to Romanticism while the detail of his work along with the deglorified portrayal of historic figures follow the trends of Academicism and Neoclassicism. Delaroche aimed to depict his subjects and history with pragmatic realism. 

Delaroche was born into a generation that saw the stylistic conflicts between Romanticism and Davidian Classicism. Davidian Classicism was widely accepted and enjoyed by society so as a developing artist at the time of the introduction of Romanticism in Paris, Delaroche found his place between the two movements. Later in the 1830s, Delaroche exhibited the first of his major religious works. His change of subject and “the painting’s austere manner” were ill-received by critics and after 1837, he stopped exhibiting his work altogether. At the time of his death in 1856, he was painting a series of four scenes from the Life of the Virgin. Only one work from this series was completed: the Virgin Contemplating the Crown of Thorns. More on Paul Delaroche 

Bernardino di Betto, known as Pinturicchio (Perugia c. 1454 – 1513 Siena)

Madonna

Fragment of the destroyed divine investiture of Alexander VI, c. 1492-1493

wall painting by the seventeenth-century frame, 39.5 cm x 28, 5 x 5

Private collection

For centuries, Renaissance artist Pintoricchio was practically accused of blasphemy by those who contended he used Pope Alexander VI’s young lover, Giulia Farnese, as the model for the Madonna in a wall painting that decorated the pontiff’s private apartment. The painting depicts a Virgin blessing with Child, and at their feet an adoring Pope. 

The painting provoked so much scandal that Pope Alexander VII ordered the fresco removed, more than five decades after he succeeded the previous Alexander. The painting was ripped out and over time, its remaining fragments were thought to have been lost forever. But it turned out some of the original did survive; and over the years were collected, Like key pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

The portrait of infant Jesus and the Madonna is all that survived.

Bernardino di Betto, known as Pinturicchio (Perugia c. 1454 – 1513 Siena)

Baby Jesus of the Hands

Fragment of the destroyed divine investiture of Alexander VI, c. 1492-1493

Giulia Farnese (1474 – 23 March 1524) was mistress to Pope Alexander VI, and the sister of Pope Paul III.

On 21 May 1489, she married Orsino Orsini. It is uncertain when Rodrigo Borgia (Pope Alexander VI) fell in love with Giulia and decided to make her his mistress. What is known is that Adriana de Mila eventually gave her approval to Rodrigo Borgia and Giulia Farnese’s relationship in order to win a higher status for her son within the Vatican. By November 1493, Giulia was living with Adriana de Mila and the Pope’s daughter Lucrezia Borgia in a recently built palace next to the Vatican from where the Pope could easily make his clandestine visits. The affair was widely rumored among gossips of the time.

Writers like Michael de la Bedoyere dispute her alleged status as mistress.

Through her intimacy with the Pope, Giulia was able to get her brother Alessandro (the future Paul III) created Cardinal in 1493.

Giulia had a daughter whom she named Laura. It is not clear whether Laura’s father was Orsino or Alexander. Maria Bellonci believes that there is evidence that she did have a physical relationship with her husband. Whatever the case may be, Giulia claimed that Laura was indeed the Pope’s daughter, but this may have been to raise the status of the child for future marriage considerations.

 In 1494, she angered the Pope by setting off to Capodimonte to be at the deathbed of her brother Angelo. She remained away from Rome, even after her brother’s death, at the insistence of her husband. He eventually capitulated. This occurred at the same time as the French invasion of Italy under Charles VIII. Giulia was captured by the French, who demanded from the Pope, and received, a ransom of 3,000 scudi for her safe conduct to Rome.

Giulia remained close to the Pope until 1499 or 1500. 

She married Giovanni Capece of Bozzuto. He was a member of the lower ranking Neapolitan nobility. In 1506, Giulia became the governor of Carbognano. Giulia took up residence in the citadel of the castle. She stayed in Carbognano until 1522; she then returned to Rome.

She died there. She was 50 years old. The cause of her death is unknown. Ten years later her brother ascended the papal throne as Pope Paul III. Laura and Niccolò had three sons, who inherited the possessions of the Orsini family. More on Giulia Farnese

Pintoricchio or Pinturicchio, whose formal name was Bernardino di Betto, also known as Benetto di Biagio or Sordicchio, c.1454–1513, Umbrian painter whose real name was Bernardino di Betto. A prolific and facile painter, he was influenced by Perugino, with whom he collaborated on the frescoes for the Sistine Chapel. Pinturicchio worked chiefly in Perugia, Rome, and Siena. He decorated the Borgia apartments in the Vatican and several churches in Rome. His most elaborate project was the decoration of the cathedral library in Siena. In the Metropolitan Museum are many panels of mythological scenes from the ceiling of the reception room in the Palazzo del Magnifico in Siena. More on Pinturicchio

The exact composition of the painting, however, did not disappear thanks to a copy made in 1612 by the painter Pietro Fachetti (below). More on the composition

Pietro Fachetti, 1539 – 1613

Virgin blessing with Child

The face of the Madonna by Pintoricchio, reconstructed, allows us to partially a work of great iconography significance and obvious theological significance. A rare papal iconography, representing the divine investiture of the newly elected Pontiff, permanently sweeps the field by much more “worldly” interpretations that caused the destruction, but persisting in memory.

Pietro Facchetti (1539 – 27 February 1613) was an Italian painter of the late-Renaissance, mainly active in Rome.

Born to a poor family in Mantua. Facchetti initially trained with Lorenzo Costa the younger, but then moved to Rome and joined the studio of Scipione da Gaeta, where he gained fame as a portrait painter. More on Pietro Facchetti

Thanks to Capitoline Museums ITALY EUROPE 24, and LiveAuctioneers for this story

Matteo Loves, (1625 to 1647)

Judith with the Head of Holofernes., Circa 1620-1630.

Oil on canvas

35 ¼ x 41 5/16 in. (89.5 x 105 cm)

In the canvas before us, this bloody Biblical episode provides an occasion for the representation of the affetti, both refined and harsh. Between the end of the 1500s and the beginning of the century that followed, art in the Christian West saw the spread of an iconography that treated subjects from the Old Testament or Classical mythology as vehicles for portraits and the depiction of sentiment. A general example of this practice can be found in the famous painting by Cristofano Allori (below) in which the woman he loved plays the part of Judith, while the features of the beheaded Holofernes are a self-portrait of the artist. More on this canvas

The Book of Judith is the Old Testament of the Bible. The story revolves around Judith, a daring and beautiful widow, who is upset with her Jewish countrymen for not trusting God to deliver them from their foreign conquerors. She goes with her loyal maid to the camp of the enemy general, Holofernes, with whom she slowly ingratiates herself, promising him information on the Israelites. Gaining his trust, she is allowed access to his tent one night as he lies in a drunken stupor. She decapitates him, then takes his head back to her fearful countrymen. The Assyrians, having lost their leader, disperse, and Israel is saved. Though she is courted by many, Judith remains unmarried for the rest of her life. More on The Book of Judith

 

Matteo Loves (Italian, active 1625-circa 1645) was a painter active in Cento from about 1625 to 1662. Few biographical details are know. It is said he was born in Cologne to an English family, and arrived as a young man in Cento, where he trained with Guercino. Works by Loves can be found in the Pinacoteca of Cento and in the church of San Rocco e San Sebastiano. More Matteo Loves

Cristofano Allori,  (1577–1621)

Judith with the Head of Holophernes, c. 1613

Oil on canvas

120.4 × 100.3 cm (47.4 × 39.5 in)

Royal Collection

Cristofano Allori (17 October 1577 – 1 April 1621) was an Italian portrait painter of the late Florentine Mannerist school. Allori was born at Florence and received his first lessons in painting from his father. He entered the studio of Gregorio Pagani,  late Florentine school, which sought to unite the rich coloring of the Venetians with the Florentine attention to drawing. 

His pictures are distinguished by their close adherence to nature and the delicacy and technical perfection of their execution. His technical skill is shown by the fact that several copies he made of Correggio’s works were thought to be duplicates by Correggio himself. His extreme fastidiousness limited the number of his works. 

His most famous work, in his own day and now, is Judith with the Head of Holofernes (above). It exists in at least two versions by Allori, of which the prime version is perhaps that in the British Royal Collection, dated 1613, with various pentimenti. A version of 1620 in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence is the best known and there are several copies by studio and other hands. More Cristofano Allori

Spanish Colonial, Peru, Cuzco School, ca. 1750 CE

Santa Barbara

oil-on-canvas

43.875″ L x 31″ W (111.4 cm x 78.7 cm)

Private Collection

Santa Barbara dressed in elaborate embroidered and lace-trimmed garments or rich hues and fabrics, holding her chief attribute, a model of the tower where her father locked her away to discourage suitors (Was this the source for Rapunzel perhaps?) as well as a huge peacock feather, a symbol of her immortality. She is regarded as the patron saint of armorers and firearms stemming from the theme of sudden death in her story, and is sometimes associated with the warrior saint George. 

Saint Barbara is a former Christian saint and virgin martyr believed to have lived in Asia Minor in the 3rd century. Her story dates to the 7th century and is retold in the Golden Legend. It is as follows: Dioscurus, the father of Barbara, was a heartless nobleman who had a tower built so that he could lock his daughter away to deter suitors. At first the tower only had two windows; however, Barbara persuaded the workmen to add a third when her father wasn’t looking. She also secretly admitted a priest disguised as a doctor, who baptized her to become Christian. When her father returned, Barbara declared that the three windows symbolized the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost who ignited her soul. Dioscurus grew enraged and chased his daughter who had fled the tower. She hid in the crevice of a rock; however, a shepherd told her father of her hiding place. Once found, Barbara was dragged out by the hair and beaten by her father who next handed her over to the Roman authorities. She refused to renounce her Christian beliefs and was tortured. Miraculously, at the moment of her execution by her father’s sword, he was struck by lightning, his body devoured by fire. More on Saint Barbara

The Cuzco School (Escuela Cuzquena) was a Roman Catholic artistic tradition which originated following the 1534 Spanish Conquest of the Inca Empire and continued during the Colonial Period in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. Though based in Cusco, Peru (the former capital of the Inca Empire), the Cuzco School extended to other cities of the Andes, present day Bolivia, and Ecuador. Today it is regarded as the first artistic center that taught European visual art techniques in the Americas. The primary intention of Cuzco School paintings was to be didactic. Hoping to convert the Incas to Catholicism, the Spanish sent religious artists to Cusco who created a school for the Quechua peoples and mestizos. Interestingly, Cusquena art was created by the indigenous as well as Spanish creoles. In addition to religious subjects, the Cuzco School expressed their cultural pride with paintings of Inca monarchs. Despite the fact that Cuzco School painters had studied prints of Flemish, Byzantine, and Italian Renaissance art, these artists’ style and techniques were generally freer than that of their European models. More on The Cuzco School

ARTIST OF FRANCO -German XVII CENTURY

Flagellation of Christ

Oil on board

55,00 x 73,00 cm

Private Collection

The Flagellation of Christ, sometimes known as Christ at the Column or the Scourging at the Pillar, is a scene from the Passion of Christ very frequently shown in Christian art, in cycles of the Passion or the larger subject of the Life of Christ. It is the fourth station of the modern alternate Stations of the Cross, and a Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary. The column to which Christ is normally tied, and the rope, scourge, whip or birch are elements in the Arma Christi. The Basilica di Santa Prassede in Rome, claimed to possess the original column. More on The Flagellation of Christ

Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1824 – 1904, FRENCH

BETHSABÉE

Oil on canvas

60.5 by 100cm., 23¾ by 39¼in.

Private Collection

‘And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house, and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon’ (II Samuel 11:2)

Blending the Biblical subject with a masterful exploration of light and the human form, Gérôme’s interpretation of the story belongs to his most important works.

Bathsheba was the wife of the Hittite Uriah, who served under Joab in King David’s army. Uriah is away fighting a battle when David first spies Bathsheba from his palace. He sends messengers to find her. She goes to him, sleeps with him, and conceives his child. To conceal his sin, David recalls Uriah from battle, ostensibly to hear how the war is going, but actually to encourage him to sleep with his wife. Uriah renounces the opportunity out of conscience towards his fellow soldiers battling it out in the field, choosing instead to sleep before the gates of the king’s palace. David now changes tack, instructing Joab to ensure Uriah fall on the battlefield, which he does. Bathsheba mourns her husband, then becomes David’s wife. More on Bathsheba

Jean-Léon Gérôme (11 May 1824 – 10 January 1904) was a French painter and sculptor in the style now known as Academicism. The range of his oeuvre included historical painting, Greek mythology, Orientalism, portraits and other subjects, bringing the Academic painting tradition to an artistic climax. He is considered one of the most important painters from this academic period, and in addition to being a painter, he was also a teacher with a long list of students. More on Jean-Léon Gérôme

Andrea Mantegna, 1431 – 1506

Presentation in the Temple, c.1460

Tempera on wood

67 x 86 cm

Staatliche Museen, Berlin

 

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or The Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple, is a liturgical feast. The feast is associated with an event recounted not in the New Testament, but in the apocryphal Infancy Narrative of James. According to that text, Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anne, who had been childless, received a heavenly message that they would have a child. In thanksgiving for the gift of their daughter, they brought her, when still a child, to the Temple in Jerusalem to consecrate her to God. Later versions of the story tell us that Mary was taken to the Temple at around the age of three in fulfillment of a vow. Tradition held that she was to remain there to be educated in preparation for her role as Mother of God. More on The Presentation of Mary

Andrea Mantegna ( c. 1431 – September 13, 1506) was an Italian painter, a student of Roman archeology, and son-in-law of Jacopo Bellini. Like other artists of the time, Mantegna experimented with perspective, e.g. by lowering the horizon in order to create a sense of greater monumentality. His flinty, metallic landscapes and somewhat stony figures give evidence of a fundamentally sculptural approach to painting. He also led a workshop that was the leading producer of prints in Venice before 1500. More on Andrea Mantegna

Acknowledgement: Artemis Gallery,  and others

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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

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