Monday, August 14, 2017

11 Paintings, RELIGIOUS ART - Interpretation of the Bible! by The Old Masters, With Footnotes - # 46

Florentine school circa 1700, circle of P. Dandini
Saint Cecilia
Oil on canvas
25 1/4 X 20 7/8 IN. 64 X 53 CM
Private Collection

St. Cecilia is one of the most famous of the Roman martyrs, even if the familiar stories about her are apparently not founded.  The existence of the martyrs, however, is a historical fact. The relation between St. Cecilia and Valerianus, Tiburtius, and Maximus, mentioned in the Acts of the Martyrs, has perhaps some historical foundation.

It was long supposed that she was a noble lady of Rome who suffered martyrdom in about 230, under the Emperor Alexander Severus. According to the story, despite her vow of virginity, she was forced by her parents to marry a pagan nobleman named Valerian. During the wedding, Cecilia sat apart singing to God in her heart, and for that she was later declared the saint of musicians. When the time came for her marriage to be consummated, Cecilia told Valerian that watching over her was an angel of the Lord, who would punish him if he sexually violated her but would love him if he respected her virginity. When Valerian asked to see the angel, Cecilia replied that he could if he would go to the third milestone on the Via Appia and be baptized by Pope Urban I. After following Cecilia's advice, he saw the angel standing beside her and crowning her with a chaplet of roses and lilies.

The legend about Cecilia’s death says that after being struck three times on the neck with a sword, she lived for three days, and asked the pope to convert her home into a church.

Cecilia was buried at the Catacombs of St. Callistus, and then transferred to the Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. In 1599, her body was found still incorrupt, seeming to be asleep. More St. Cecilia 

Florentine painting or the Florentine School refers to artists in, from, or influenced by the naturalistic style developed in Florence in the 14th century, largely through the efforts of Giotto di Bondone, and in the 15th century the leading school of Western painting. Some of the best known artists of the Florentine school, including other arts, are Filippo Brunelleschi, Donatello, Michelangelo, Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Lippi, Masolino, and Masaccio. More Florentine School


Jean Béraud, 1849 St. Petersburg - 1935 Paris
THE YOUNG WOMAN WITH THE CHILD, c. 1906
Oil on canvas
87 x 66 cm. 
Private Collection

Jean Béraud (January 12, 1849 – October 4, 1935) was a French painter, noted for his paintings of Parisian life during the Belle Époque. He was renowned in Paris society due to his numerous paintings depicting the life of Paris, and the nightlife of Paris society. He also painted religious subjects in a contemporary setting. Pictures of the Champs Elysees, cafeés, Montmartre and the banks of the Seine are precisely detailed illustrations of everyday Parisian era of the "Belle Époque". More Jean Béraud,

Late 17th century Roman school
Saint Anthony of Padua: the fish preacher
Oil on canvas
49 X 69 1/2 IN.  124,5 X 176,5 CM
Private Collection

Saint Anthony of Padua (Portuguese: Santo António), born Fernando Martins de Bulhões (1195 – 13 June 1231), also known as Anthony of Lisbon, was a Portuguese Catholic priest and friar of the Franciscan Order. He was born and raised by a wealthy family in Lisbon, Portugal, and died in Padua, Italy. Noted by his contemporaries for his forceful preaching, expert knowledge of scripture, and undying love and devotion to the poor and the sick, he was the second-most-quickly canonized saint after Peter of Verona. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church on 16 January 1946. He is also the patron saint of lost things. More on Saint Anthony of Padua

Roman School, 17th Century. Both Michelangelo and Raphael worked in Rome, making it the centre of High Renaissance; in the 17th century it was the centre of the Baroque movement represented by Bernini and Pietro da Cortona. From the 17th century the presence of classical remains drew artists from all over Europe including Poussin, Claude Lorrain, Piranesi, Pannini and Mengs.

In the 17th century Italian art was diffused mainly from Rome, the indisputable centre of the Baroque.

Roman Mannerism, spread abroad by the prolific work of Federico and Taddeo Zuccari, was continued by Roncalli, called Pomarancio and especially by Giuseppe Cesari, called Cavaliere d'Arpino, whose reputation was immense. The reaction against Mannerism engendered two different movements, which were sometimes linked together: one was realist with Caravaggio, the other eclectic and decorative with the Carracci.

Caravaggio brought about the greatest pictorial revolution of the century. His imposing compositions, deliberately simplified, are remarkable for their rigorous sense of reality and for the contrasting light falling from one side that accentuates the volumes. He changed from small paintings of genre and still-life, clear in light and cool in colour, to harsh realism, strongly modelled volumes and dramatic light and shade. His work, like his life, caused much scandal and excited international admiration.

Among the Italian disciples of Caravaggio Carlo Saraceni was the only direct Venetian follower. Bartolomeo Manfredi imitated Caravaggio's genre paintings; Orazio Gentileschi and his daughter Artemisia Gentileschi showed a marked realism. Caravaggio's biographer and enemy, Giovanni Baglione underwent his influence. More Roman School, 17th Century

 Bolognese school, circle of N. Bertuzzi
Moses after crossing the Red Sea,  circa 1700
Oil on canvas
7 1/2 X 11 IN.  19 X 28 CM
Private Collection

The Crossing of the Red Sea, or Sea of Reeds, is part of the biblical narrative of the escape of the Israelites, led by Moses, from the pursuing Egyptians in the Book of Exodus. This story is also mentioned in the Quran in Surah.

According to the Exodus account, Moses held out his staff and the Red Sea was parted by God. The Israelites walked on the exposed ground and crossed the sea, followed by the Egyptian army. Moses again moved his staff once the Israelites had crossed and the sea closed again, drowning the whole Egyptian army.

The narrative contains at least three and possibly four layers. In the first layer (the oldest), God blows the sea back with a strong east wind, allowing the Israelites to cross on dry land; in the second, Moses stretches out his hand and the waters part in two walls; in the third, God clogs the chariot wheels of the Egyptians and they flee (in this version the Egyptians do not even enter the water); and in the fourth, the Song of the Sea, God casts the Egyptians into tehomat, the mythical abyss. More on The Crossing of the Red Sea

The Bolognese School or the School of Bologna of painting flourished in Bologna, the capital of Emilia Romagna, between the 16th and 17th centuries in Italy, and rivalled Florence and Rome as the center of painting. Certain artistic conventions, which over time became traditionalist, had been developed in Rome during the first decades of the 16th century. As time passed, some artists sought new approaches to their work that no longer reflected only the Roman manner. The Carracci studio sought innovation or invention, seeking new ways to break away from traditional modes of painting while continuing to look for inspiration from their literary contemporaries. This style was seen as both systematic and imitative, borrowing particular motifs from the past Roman schools of art and innovating a modernistic approach. More on The Bolognese School 

 Attr. to D. Teniers II, (1610-1690)
Simeon welcoming the Child Jesus
Oil on copper
8 11/16 X 6 11/16 IN.  22 X 17 CM
Private Collection

Simeon (Simeon the God-receiver) is the "just and devout" man of Jerusalem who met Mary, Joseph, and Jesus as they entered the Temple to fulfill the requirements of the Law of Moses on the 40th day from Jesus' birth at the presentation of Jesus at the Temple.

According to the Biblical account, Simeon had been visited by the Holy Spirit and told that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Christ. On taking Jesus into his arms he uttered a prayer, which is still used liturgically as the Latin Nunc dimittis in many Christian churches, and gave a prophecy alluding to the crucifixion. More Simeon

David Teniers the Younger (15 December 1610 – 25 April 1690) was a Flemish artist born in Antwerp, the son of David Teniers the Elder. His son David Teniers III and his grandson David Teniers IV were also painters.

Through his father, he was indirectly influenced by Elsheimer and by Rubens. The influence of Adriaen Brouwer can be traced to the outset of his career. There is no evidence, however, that either Rubens or Brouwer interfered in any way with Teniers's education. The only trace of personal relations having existed between Teniers and Rubens is the fact that the ward of the latter, Anne Breughel, the daughter of Jan (Velvet) Breughel, married Teniers in 1637. More Teniers


Spanish school, circa 1660
The Visitation
Oil on canvas
20 7/8 X 15 15/16 IN. 53 X 40,5 CM
Private Collection

The Visitation. Mary visits her relative Elizabeth; they are both pregnant. Mary is pregnant with Jesus and Elizabeth is pregnant with John the Baptist. Elizabeth was in the sixth month before Mary came. Mary stayed three months, and most scholars hold she stayed for the birth of John. The apparition of the angel, mentioned in Matthew, may have taken place then to end the tormenting doubts of Joseph regarding Mary's maternity.

In Catholicism, it is held that the purpose of this visit was to bring divine grace to both Elizabeth and her unborn child. Even though he was still in his mother's womb, John became aware of the presence of Christ, and leapt for joy as he was cleansed from original sin and filled with divine grace. Elizabeth also responded and recognised the presence of Jesus, and thus Mary exercised her function as mediatrix between God and man for the first time. More on The Visitation

Spanish School, 16th Century. In the sixteenth century when Spain became a world power with vast possessions and sources of wealth in the New World, as well as possessions dotted about Europe, it might have been expected that a vigorous national school of painting would emerge, transforming the somewhat tentative or imitative character that painting in Spain had shown up to then. It turned out otherwise. For most of the 16th century, painting remained spiritless. Both the Emperor Charles V and his son Philip II of Spain were patrons with a feeling for art, but the great Venetians, especially Titian, claimed most of their interest. Philip also highly approved of the fantasies of Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516) - although the top Spanish clergy suspected heresy in these strange pictures from the Netherlands. More on the Spanish School


 Spanish school circa 1640,
Jesus the carpenter
Oil on canvas
13 3/16 X 19 5/16  33,5 X 49 CM
Private Collection

Jesus the carpenter. A typical Jew in Jesus' time had only one name, sometimes supplemented with the father's name or the individual's hometown. Thus, in the New Testament, Jesus is commonly referred to as "Jesus of Nazareth". Jesus' neighbors in Nazareth refer to him as "the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon",  "the carpenter's son", or "Joseph's son". In John, the disciple Philip refers to him as "Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth". More on Jesus the carpenter

 Spanish school, see above

Florentine school, circa 1700, follower of J. da Empoli
Annunciation
Oil on canvas
43 5/16 X 34 13/16 IN. 110 X 88,5 CM
Private Collection

The Annunciation referred to as the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Annunciation of Our Lady, or the Annunciation of the Lord, is the Christian celebration of the announcement by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, the Son of God, marking his Incarnation. Gabriel told Mary to name her son Yehoshua , meaning "YHWH is salvation".


According to Luke 1:26, the Annunciation occurred "in the sixth month" of Elizabeth's pregnancy. Many Christians observe this event with the Feast of the Annunciation on 25 March, an approximation of the northern vernal equinox nine full months before Christmas, the ceremonial birthday of Jesus. In England, this came to be known as Lady Day. It marked the new year until 1752. The 2nd-century writer Irenaeus of Lyon regarded the conception of Jesus as 25 March coinciding with the Passion. More The Annunciation


Florentine painting or the Florentine School refers to artists in, from, or influenced by the naturalistic style developed in Florence in the 14th century, largely through the efforts of Giotto di Bondone, and in the 15th century the leading school of Western painting. Some of the best known artists of the Florentine school, including other arts, are Filippo Brunelleschi, Donatello, Michelangelo, Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Lippi, Masolino, and Masaccio. More Florentine School

Hans Makart, 1840 Salzburg - 1884 Vienna
SUSANNA AND THE ELDERS, c. 1860/62
. Oil on canvas
161 x 79 cm. 
Private Collection

The naked Susanna, lying on a rocky fountain, fell asleep during bathing. Innocently dreaming under a tree, she barely reveals her bodily stimuli - only lightly covered with a white cloth. At her feet different birds and a water drinking peacock (symbol of beauty and immortality), in the background by her head the source of the stream. Behind a rocky protrusion, the two lusty old men are lurking.

The picture was painted around 1860/62 and was certainly inspired by the painting by A. v. Dyck in the Old Pinakothek in Munich "Susanna and the two old ones." More on this painting

A fair Hebrew wife named Susanna was falsely accused by lecherous voyeurs. As she bathes in her garden, having sent her attendants away, two lustful elders secretly observe the lovely Susanna. When she makes her way back to her house, they accost her, threatening to claim that she was meeting a young man in the garden unless she agrees to have sex with them.
She refuses to be blackmailed and is arrested and about to be put to death for promiscuity when a young man named Daniel interrupts the proceedings, shouting that the elders should be questioned to prevent the death of an innocent. After being separated, the two men are questioned about details of what they saw, but disagree about the tree under which Susanna supposedly met her lover. In the Greek text, the names of the trees cited by the elders form puns with the sentence given by Daniel. The first says they were under a mastic, and Daniel says that an angel stands ready to cuthim in two. The second says they were under an evergreen oak tree, and Daniel says that an angel stands ready to saw him in two. The great difference in size between a mastic and an oak makes the elders' lie plain to all the observers. The false accusers are put to death, and virtue triumphs. More about Susanna

Hans Makart (Austrian, 1840 - 1884), was a Austrian academic history painter, designer, and decorator. Studied under Josef Schiffmann and Karl Theodor von Piloty.

Son of a chamberlain at Mirabell castle. After a short study at the Academy in Vienna he was educated by Karl Theodor von Piloty in Munich (1860-1865) and travelled to London, Paris and Rome to study. He returned to Vienna after the prince Von Hohenlohe provided him with an old foundry to use as a studio. It gradually turned it into an impressive place full of sculptures, flowers, musical instruments, requisites and jewellery that he used to create classical settings for his portraits, mainly of women. Eventually his studio looked like a salon and became a social meeting point in Vienna. Makart became famous for his richly coloured history paintings and enjoyed his finest hour in 1879 with his painting of the procession in honour of the silver anniversary of the marriage of emperor Francis Joseph and his wife Elisabeth. In the same year he became a Professor at the Academy. Makart also designed furniture and interiors. More Hans Makart 

Roman School, 17th century
THE REST ON THE FLIGHT TO EGYPT
Oil on canvas, unlined
28.8 x 20.5 cm.; 11 3/8  x 8 in
Private Collection

THE REST ON THE FLIGHT TO EGYPT. The scene is based not on any incident in the Bible itself, but on a body of tales or legends that had grown up in the early Middle Ages around the Bible story of the Holy Family fleeing into Egypt for refuge on being warned that Herod the Great was seeking to kill the Christ Child. According to the legend, Joseph and Mary paused on the flight in a grove of trees; the Holy Child ordered the trees to bend down so that Joseph could take fruit from them, and then ordered a spring of water to gush forth from the roots so that his parents could quench their thirst. This basic story acquired many extra details during the centuries. More on THE REST ON THE FLIGHT TO EGYPT

Roman school, see above

Follower of Paolo Caliari, called Paolo Veronese
THE REST ON THE RETURN TO EGYPT
oil on canvas
24.5 x 59.3 cm.; 9 5/8  x 23 3/8  in.
Private Collection

THE REST ON THE RETURN TO EGYPT, see above

Paolo Caliari, known as Paolo Veronese (1528 – 19 April 1588) was an Italian Renaissance painter based in Venice, most famous for large history paintings of both religious and mythological subjects, such as The Wedding at Cana and The Feast in the House of Levi. With Titian, who was at least a generation older, and Tintoretto, ten years older, he was one of the "great trio that dominated Venetian painting of the cinquecento" or 16th-century late Renaissance. Veronese is known as a supreme colorist, and after an early period with Mannerist influence turned to a more naturalist style influenced by Titian.

His most famous works are elaborate narrative cycles, executed in a dramatic and colorful style, full of majestic architectural settings and glittering pageantry. His large paintings of biblical feasts, crowded with figures, painted for the refectories of monasteries in Venice and Verona are especially famous, and he was also the leading Venetian painter of ceilings. Most of these works remain in situ, or at least in Venice, and his representation in most museums is mainly composed of smaller works such as portraits that do not always show him at his best or most typical.


He has always been appreciated for "the chromatic brilliance of his palette, the splendor and sensibility of his brushwork, the aristocratic elegance of his figures, and the magnificence of his spectacle", but his work has been felt "not to permit expression of the profound, the human, or the sublime", and of the "great trio" he has often been the least appreciated by modern criticism. Nonetheless, "many of the greatest artists ... may be counted among his admirers, including Rubens, Watteau, Tiepolo, Delacroix and Renoir". More on Paolo Caliari






Acknowledgement: Le Figaro, and others

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

08 Russian Icons from the Bible, with footnotes, #12

18th C. Russian Icon
Christ Emmanuel
Egg tempera and gold leaf on wood
10.25" W x 12.25" H (26 cm x 31.1 cm)
Private collection

The text beneath may refer to a passage of Isaiah that Christ read in the synagogue of Nazareth, "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the afflicted".

The prophet Isaiah coined the term Emmanuel which means God is with us, and this icon captures that sense of immediate presence. According to Alfredo Tradigo, "We see not a child before us, but the mysterious, unknowable face of God, who is eternally young and old at once, as emphasized by the Church Fathers. The figure's young age stands not for the Child but, rather, for the incorruptible, timeless youth of the sacrificial Lamb, daily renewed on the altar in the bloodless sacrifice of the Eucharist. Tradigo continues to explain that the placement of an Emmanuel icon at the Cathedral of the Dormition in Moscow, in a Deesis over the northern doors of the iconostasis that lead to the prosthesis (the special room where these holy gifts are prepared) attests to this interpretation. The smooth-faced Christ Emmanuel is traditionally inserted in an angelic Deesis between Gabriel and Michael the holy archangels who protect the Divine Liturgy). In some cases a grand ensemble of angels forms an assembly around Emmanuel. More on this Icon

18th C. Russian Icon
St. John the Evangelist
Egg tempera and gold leaf on wood
12.75" W x 16" H (32.4 cm x 40.6 cm)
Private collection

Images of the evangelists derived from miniatures of illuminated Gospel books and Gospel lectionaries showing them at work in their scriptoria (a room in medieval European monasteries devoted to the writing, copying and illuminating of manuscripts by monastic scribes). These portrayals were oftentimes painted on the outside of the royal doors. John's symbol is the eagle, chosen for the sublime manner in which he described the godliness of the Word.

Also known as John the Theologian for his ability to channel divine wisdom, Saint John wrote the fourth Gospel (the Book of Revelation), while living in a cave on the isle of Patmos, exiled by Emperor Trajan. There he dictated a dramatic vision of the Apocalypse to the deacon Prochorus, his disciple and steadfast companion. John also wrote the Gospel of Love, in addition to three of the Catholic Epistles. In the words of Patriarch Athenagoras, John is the source of our loftiest spirituality. Like him, those who are silent know the mysterious confusion that can assail the heart; invoking the presence of John, their hearts catch fire. More on this Icon

19th C. Russian Icon
Chosen Saints
Egg tempera and gold leaf on wood
14.25" W x 17.75" H (36.2 cm x 45.1 cm)
Private collection

An icon presenting an ensemble of blessed saints, including Catherine , Natalya, Ann the Prophetess, Ljubov (Love, more commonly interpreted as Charity), John, and Alexander standing in two rows. The seventh saint is most likely John the Evangelist. Each saint is identified with a gold on blue banner, all beneath Saint Anne in the celestial realm aloft billowing clouds donning red and blue robes. More on this Icon


Saint Catherine of Alexandria is, according to tradition, a Christian saint and virgin, who was martyred in the early 4th century at the hands of the pagan emperor Maxentius. According to her hagiography, she was both a princess and a noted scholar, who became a Christian around the age of fourteen, and converted hundreds of people to Christianity. More on Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Saint Natalia's hagiography is closely tied to the life of her husband, Saint Adrian. Adrian was struck by divine grace and told the Roman officials to write his own name with the rest of the martyrs. When his wife Natalia heard that he had been imprisoned with the martyrs, she ran with joy to the gaol and lauded his resolve while embracing his chains. She imploring the other martyrs to pray to God.

When Adrian appeared before the emperor and confessed Christ, he was tutored, and killed, with the other martyrs. Their hands and feet were then cut off.  Natalie managed to steal one of her husband's severed hands from the pile. The fire that was supposed to burn the relics was miraculously put out by a sudden shower of rain, and a Christian named Eusebius was able to retrieve the relics and transport them for burial to Argyroupolis, a town near Byzantium. Some time later, Natalia visited the tomb where she gave up her soul to God and was herself subsequently buried. More on Saint Natalia

Anna the Prophetess is a woman mentioned in the Gospel of Luke. According to that Gospel, she was an elderly Jewish woman who prophesied about Jesus at the Temple of Jerusalem. She appears in Luke, during the presentation of Jesus at the Temple. More on Anna the Prophetess

Saint Ljubov, Saints Faith, Hope and Charity are a group of Christian martyred saints.  In the reign of Roman Emperor Hadrian (2nd century AD), a matron Sophia (Wisdom), with her three youthful daughters, Pistis, Elpis, and Agape (Greek for Faith, Hope and Charity), became martyrs.

The guards took Sophia's daughters one by one, from the oldest to the youngest and beat and tortured them to death in an attempt to force her to renounce her faith in Christ. She proved her unconditional faith in Christ by proving to people that she and her daughters were willing to go through hard times for their faith. Afterwards, Sophia buried her daughters' bodies and remained by their graves for three days until she died herself. More on Saint Ljubov and Saint Sofia

Saint John the Apostle, also called Saint John the Evangelist or Saint John the Divine (flourished 1st century ce), in Christian tradition, the author of three letters, the Fourth Gospel, and the Revelation to John in the New Testament. He played a leading role in the early church at Jerusalem. More on Saint John
Saint Anne (also known as Ann or Anna) of David's house and line, was the mother of the Virgin Mary and grandmother of Jesus Christ, according to apocryphal Christian and Islamic tradition. More on Saint Anne

19th C. Russian Icon
St. Alexander Svirsky
Egg tempera and gold leaf on wood
3.25" W x 4.25" H (8.3 cm x 10.8 cm)
Private collection

St. Alexander Svirsky spent much of time of his life as a monk, including some period of total isolation from society.

In 1506, Serapion, Archbishop of Novgorod, appointed him Hegumen of the Trinity monastery, which later became known as Alexander-Svirsky Monastery, at the place of the saint's eremitic life between Roschinsky and Holy lakes. A rendition of the the appearance of the Holy Trinity ot St. Alexander Svirsky. 

The Trinity appeared to St. Alexander in 1508, twenty-three years after he came to this secluded location. One night when he was praying in his cabin, a radiant light shone brightly, and the three haloed angels in billowing white robes approached him. Taken aback by this event, the monk fell down with fright. Once he came to again, he prostrated himself on the ground out of respect. The angels took him by the hand, said, "Have trust, blessed one, and fear not", and asked him to build a church and a monastery. More on St. Alexander Svirsky

Eastern Europe, Russia, ca. 1760 to 1780 CE
Virgin of the Burning Bush
Egg tempera and gold leaf on wood
14.125" L x 12.125" W (35.9 cm x 30.8 cm)
Private collection

The subject of Our Lady of the Burning Bush is based on the Old Testament prophecy of the incarnation of Christ. Such theologians as St Gregory of Nyssa and Theodoret of Cyrrhus regarded Moses’s vision of the burning bush as a symbol and prototype of the Virgin Mary and the Immaculate Conception.

The iconography of the scene was inspired by the Russian Orthodox hymns comparing the Virgin to the burning bush seen by Moses – engulfed in flames, yet not burning (Exodus 2:1–6). Icons of the subject were popular from the sixteenth century onwards and were believed to offer protection from fire. The Russian Orthodox Church celebrates the festival of the icon on 4/17 September, which is also the day of Moses. More on Our Lady of the Burning Bush

19th C. Oval Russian Icon
Theotokos of Unburnt Bush
Egg tempera and gold leaf on wood
6.625" W x 9.5" H (16.8 cm x 24.1 cm)
Private collection

This icon depicts the burning bush symbolically with two overlapping diamonds - the blue diamond/rhombus representing the bush, the red diamond/rhombus representing the fiery flames that do not burn it. Within the red points are the symbols of the four evangelists: lion, ox, eagle, and man; within the blue points are angels of the Apocalypse. The corners feature visions of Moses, Isaiah, Ezekial, and Jacob - prophesies concerning the Mother of God: the burning bush of Moses, the seraph who purifies Moses' lips, the closed door of the Temple in Ezekiel (symbolizing Mary's virginity), and Jacob's Ladder. At the center of it all is the Theotokos Mother of God. Old Cyrillic passages are written in the borders and beside various elements to identify holy figures and narrate various episodes. More on this Icon

19th C. Russian Icon
St. Seraphim of Sarov
Egg tempera and gold leaf on wood
4.375" W x 5.375" H (11.1 cm x 13.7 cm)
Private collection

St. Seraphim of Sarov blesses himself before his icon of the Mother of God hanging in the tree above. At his feet are a hat, bread sack, gloves, and axe. The strongly modeled visage as well as the perspectival background suggest that the painter was very much influenced by Western art. The borders are meticulously incised and painted to simulate enamel. More on this Icon

Saint Seraphim of Sarov (1 August 1754 (or 1759) – 14 January 1833), born Prokhor Moshnin, is one of the most renowned Russian saints in the Eastern Orthodox Church. He is generally considered the greatest of the 19th-century (elders. Seraphim extended the monastic teachings of contemplation, theoria and self-denial to the layperson. He taught that the purpose of the Christian life was to acquire the Holy Spirit. Perhaps his most popular quotation amongst Orthodox believers is "Acquire a peaceful spirit, and thousands around you will be saved."

Seraphim was glorified (canonized) by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1903. Pope John Paul II referred to him as a saint. More on St. Seraphim of Sarov

Eastern Europe, Russia, 19th century CE. Icon
St. John the Baptist & Head
Egg tempera and gold leaf on wood
17.5" W x 43.75" H (44.4 cm x 111.1 cm)
Private collection

A winged St. John the Baptist holding a scroll as well as his severed head on a platter, with God the Father above. The wings occupy a large part of the composition and bestow John the Baptist's body with an otherworldly, celestial dimension. The artist painstakingly delineated the feathered wings in various neutral earthtones with black and white highlights, creating a rich sense of depth. This attention to detail is also visible on this camel-hair tunic and blue-green himation. The white strokes dramatically highlighting these vestments symbolize the spiritual energy of divine light. On the scroll are the words, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world," and "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (John 1:29, Matthew 3:2). A large golden halo encircles his visage cascading past his beard and shoulders. More on this icon

John the Baptist (sometimes called John in the Wilderness; also referred to as the Angel of the Desert) was the subject of at least eight paintings by the Italian Baroque artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571–1610).

The story of John the Baptist is told in the Gospels. John was the cousin of Jesus, and his calling was to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. He lived in the wilderness of Judea between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, "his raiment of camel's hair, and a leather girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey." He baptised Jesus in the Jordan.

According to the Bible, King Herod's daughter Salome requested Saint John the Baptist's beheading. She was prompted by her mother, Herodias, who sought revenge, because the prophet had condemned her incestuous marriage to HerodMore John the Baptist






The Eastern Orthodox Church subscribes to a belief in the intercession of saints. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition every individual is named in honor of a specific saint when baptized, and this saint is regarded as a patron for the person's entire life. In addition, there are patron saints of activities and occupations, ailments and dangers, as well as locales.



Acknowledgement: Artemis Gallery, 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.

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10 Paintings, RELIGIOUS ART - Interpretations of the Bible! by The Old Masters, With Footnotes # 51

Matthias Stomer, 1600 - 1652
Capture of Christ, c. 1640
Oil on canvas
208 x 272 cm
Private collection. Courtesy Benappi Fine Art

The arrest of Jesus is a pivotal event recorded in the canonical gospels. The event ultimately leads, in the Gospel accounts, to Jesus' crucifixion. Jesus was arrested by the Temple guards of the Sanhedrin in the Garden of Gethsemane, immediately after the kiss of Judas, which is traditionally said to have been an act of betrayal since Judas made a deal with the chief priests to arrest Jesus.
The arrest led immediately to his trial before the Sanhedrin, during which they condemned him to death and handed him to Pilate the following morning. In Christian theology, the events from the Last Supper until the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus are referred to as the Passion. More on Capture of Christ

Matthias Stom or Matthias Stomer (c. 1600 – after 1652) was a Dutch golden age painter considered one of the masters of Utrecht Caravaggism. Stom spent most of his artistic life in Italy, and 200 of his works have been preserved. It is conjectured that Stom was born at Amersfoort or in the Utrecht area, but many details of his life are vague. An early mention of Stom was around 1630, when he lived in the same location as Paulus Bor had lived a few years earlier. He was a pupil of Gerard van Honthorst in Rome after 1615.
He remained in Rome until 1632, after which he traveled to Naples, where he stayed until 1640. He then moved to Palermo, and delivered paintings for churches in Caccamo and Monreale. He sold three paintings to Antonio Ruffo, duke of Messina. It is speculated that he died in Sicily, or alternatively in Northern Italy, where in 1652 he painted an altar piece for the church in Chiuduno. More

Gentile da Fabriano,  (1370–1427)
Madonna, c. 1420-1427
95 × 57 cm (37.4 × 22.4 in)
National Gallery of Art, Washington (D.C.)

In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, painters and sculptors often incorporated inscriptions into their work. Many of these were legible texts in Latin or other European languages, but sometimes painters reached east, borrowing the languages of the Holy Land. Arabic was especially popular, but there was one small problem: Prior to the 16th century, hardly any Europeans actually knew the language. The solution? Fake Arabic. More at Fake Arabic

Gentile da Fabriano (c. 1370 – 1427) was an Italian painter known for his participation in the International Gothic painter style. He worked in various places in central Italy, mostly in Tuscany. By around 1405, Gentile da Fabriano was working in Venice. He painted a panel for the church of Santa Sofia, now lost; Jacopo Bellini worked perhaps in his workshop. Between 1408 and 1409, he painted a fresco (now lost) in the Doge's Palace depicting the naval battle between the Venetians and Otto III. In Venice he knew Pisanello and perhaps Michelino da Besozzo.

On 6 August 1420 he was in Florence, where he painted his famous altarpiece depicting the Adoration of the Magi (1423), now in the Uffizi and regarded as one of the masterpieces of the International Gothic style. His other works in Florence include the Quaratesi Polyptych (May 1425). In June–August 1425 he was in Siena, where he painted a Madonna with Child, now lost, for the Palazzo dei Notai on Piazza del Campo. Until October he was in Orvieto, where he painted his fresco of the Madonna and Child in the Cathedral. In 1427 he arrived in Rome, commissioned by Pope Martin V the decoration of the nave of the Basilica of St. John in Lateran, which was completed by Pisanello after his death.

Gentile is known to have died before 14 October 1427. He is commonly said to have been buried in the church now called S. Francesca Romana in Florence, but his tomb vanished; there is evidence, however, that he may be buried in the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere, in Rome, the place of his death. More on Gentile da Fabriano



XVI Century Italian. Umbrian Artist
Sant'Antonio Abate, c. 1400 - 1449
Saint Anthony Abbot
Fresco
Church of St. Francis, Narni  (Umbria, Italy)

Saint Anthony or Antony (251–356) was a Christian monk from Egypt, revered since his death as a saint. He is distinguished from other saints named Anthony by various epithets: Anthony the Great, Anthony of Egypt, Anthony the Abbot, Anthony of the Desert, Anthony the Anchorite, and Anthony of Thebes. For his importance among the Desert Fathers and to all later Christian monasticism, he is also known as the Father of All Monks. His feast day is celebrated on January 17 among the Orthodox and Catholic churches and on Tobi 22 in the Egyptian calendar used by the Coptic Church.
The biography of Anthony's life by Athanasius of Alexandria helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe via its Latin translations. He is often erroneously considered the first Christian monk, but as his biography and other sources make clear, there were many ascetics before him. Anthony was, however, the first to go into the wilderness, a geographical move that seems to have contributed to his renown. Accounts of Anthony enduring supernatural temptation during his sojourn in the Eastern Desert of Egypt inspired the often-repeated subject of the temptation of St. Anthony in Western art and literature. More Saint Anthony

Italian Renaissance art has historically been discussed as a series of regional ‘schools’ of artists, usually centred on one of the great cities of Italy (such as Florence or Venice). But the story was always more complicated. Central Italy – that is to say, Umbria, Southern Tuscany and the Marche – was rarely as marginal as these histories have suggested. Much of this area fell within the Papal States, and Central Italian artists were consistently more successful in Renaissance Rome than their (more famous) Florentine or Venetian counterparts. More on Umbrian Artists

Jules-Antoine Duvaux, BORDEAUX 1818 - 1884 PARIS
BLANDINA IN THE AMPHITHEATER OF LYON
Oil on canvas
92,2 x 73,5 cm ; 36 1/4 by 29 in.
Private collection

Saint Blandina (French: Blandine, died 177 AD) was a Christian martyr during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. She belongs to the band of martyrs of Lyon who, after some of their number had endured frightful tortures, suffered martyrdom in 177 in the reign of Marcus Aurelius.

While the imperial legate was away, the chiliarch, a military commander, and the duumvir, a civil magistrate, threw a number of Christians, who confessed their faith, into prison. When the legate returned, the imprisoned believers were brought to trial. Among these Christians was Blandina, a slave, who had been taken into custody along with her master, also a Christian. But although the legate caused her to be tortured in a horrible manner, so that even the executioners became exhausted "as they did not know what more they could do to her", still she remained faithful and repeated to every question "I am a Christian, and we commit no wrongdoing.

Blandina was subjected to new tortures with a number of companions in the town's amphitheater (now known as the Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls) at the time of the public games. She was bound to a stake and wild beasts were set on her. According to legend, they did not, however, touch her. After enduring this for a number of days she was led into the arena to see the sufferings of her companions. Finally, as the last of the martyrs, she was scourged, placed on a red-hot grate, enclosed in a net and thrown before a wild steer who tossed her into the air with his horns, and at last killed with a dagger. More on Blandina

Jules-Antoine Gilles Duvaux , born on the 12 January 1818 In Bordeaux and died on 6 July 1884 In Paris, was a French painter, draftsman and engraver.

A student of Charlet, Jules Antoine Devaux specializes in painting battles, decorum and military costumes. His first exhibition dates from 1848, at the Salon des artistes français, where he presents Charge de cuirassiers in Valmy, which won the gold medal. In 1857, he presented The Assault of Sevastopol (National Museum of the Castles of Versailles and Trianon).


He undertook a trip to Sicily in 1859, returning with watercolors and drawings; Souvenirs de Sicily, which he exhibited at the Salon of 1863. He exhibited regularly until 1884. More on Jules-Antoine Gilles Duvaux

 Aureliano Milani, (1675-1749)
Samson slaying the Philistines, c. 18th century.
Oil on canvas
225x290 cm
Private collection

Samson was an Old Testament judge who is known more as an adventurer of great physical strength as well as a womanizer. Like Hercules, he slayed a lion with his bare hands and then wore the skin to broadcast his super-human capabilities. Taunted by the Philistines, Samson wielded an ass’s jawbone and slew a thousand of them until they lay in heaps on the ground. The medieval church regarded Samson as a prefiguring of Christ; he also often represents Fortitude. More on Samson Slaying the Philistines.

Aureliano Milani (1675–1749) was an Italian painter of the late-Baroque period, active in Bologna and Rome. He was a pupil of Cesare Gennari and Lorenzo Pasinelli in Bologna, although he also adhered to a style derived from the Carracci. He took up his residence in Rome, being ill able to support a family of ten children at Bologna. He painted a Beheaded St. John the Baptist for the church of the Bergamaschi in Rome. In Rome, he abounded with commissions, and was promoted with Domenico Maria Muratori and Donato Creti. Aureliano also taught during many years at Bologna, and among other pupils of his were Giuseppe Marchesi (called il Sansone) and Antonio Gionima. More on Aureliano Milani

Charles-Zacharie Landelle, LAVAL 1812 - 1908 CHENNEVIÈRES-SUR-MARNE
RUTH OR THE GLEANER
Oil on canvas
55,5 x 38 cm ; 24 by 18 in.
Private collection

Ruth was a Moabite woman had come to Israel as the widow of an Israelite man. She had returned with her mother-in-law, Naomi, who had also lost her husband. They lived together in a humble situation, and Ruth would go to the fields each day to glean food in the fields during the harvest.

Boaz was a landowner where Ruth came to find grain. He knew of her situation and told his workers to leave plenty of grain for her to find. Boaz also offered her food with the other workers and encouraged her to work in the safety of his fields throughout the harvest.

Naomi noted that Boaz was a close relative who, according to Jewish law, had the right to marry Ruth after the death of her husband. Naomi encouraged Ruth to go to Boaz in the evening and present herself willing to accept a marriage proposal from him. When she did, he was pleased, yet noted that there was one relative who was closer in line to marry Ruth.

The next day, Boaz met with this relative and presented the situation. The relative turned down the offer as he felt it would cause harm to his own family situation. Boaz then made a commitment in front of the town’s leaders that he would take Ruth as his wife. More about Ruth 

Zacharie Charles Landelle, born on 2 June 1821 In Laval, the October 13 , 1908 In Chennevières-sur-Marne, is a French painter and portraitist. Born to a modest family. In 1857 he married Alice Letronne, daughter of the general of the guard Jean-Antoine Letronne who saved the National Archives in 1848 . Two sons, Georges and Paul, were born of this union, all of whom died during the lifetime of their father.

He followed his father  to Paris 1827. He only return to his hometown only at the end of his life.

He developed a talent and a very solid craft at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris where he was admitted in 1837 as a pupil of Paul Delaroche and Ary Scheffer . At the beginning of his career, he painted several portraits to support himself. Influenced by Italian paintings after traveling in the South of France and Italy, he made copies of some of the paintings by the great masters of the Renaissance at the Louvre.

His portraits and large religious paintings were instantly successful, and allowed him to gain the recognition of the high society of the nineteenth century. Napoleon III admired him very much, bought from him the two canvases of the Beatitudes ( 1852 ) to offer them to the city of Laval. He received numerous state commissions.

From his travels in North Africa and the Middle East in the 1860s , he created works that were often very successful. His first voyage to Morocco dates from 1866. In 1866 he painted Femme Fellah, which earned him the nickname of a painter of the fellahs , a work purchased by the Emperor for his personal collection, but destroyed in the fire at the Château de Saint-Cloud in 1870. A replica, executed By Charles Landelle, is preserved in the museum of the Old Castle of Laval.

In 1875 , he is in Egypt, and travels the Nile with the explorer Mariette . He travelled each year to the East, or Algeria and returned with paintings. At the end of his life, Charles Landelle encouraged the creation in Laval of a museum of painting which he inaugurated in 1895, at the height of his glory, alongside the President of the Republic : it is the current Science Museum. More on Zacharie Charles Landelle


Johannes Vermeer,  (1632–1675)
Saint Praxedis, c. 1655
Oil on canvas
40 × 32 cm (15.7 × 12.6 in)
Private collection

Saint Praxedis is an oil painting attributed to Johannes Vermeer. This attribution has often been questioned. However, in 2014 the auction house Christie's announced the results of new investigations which in their opinion demonstrate conclusively that it is a Vermeer. The painting is a copy of a work by Felice Ficherelli (below), and depicts the early Roman martyr, Saint Praxedis or Praxedes. It may be Vermeer's earliest surviving work, dating from 1655. 

The painting shows the saint squeezing a martyr's blood from a sponge into an ornate vessel. The most obvious difference between the two is that there is no crucifix in the Ferrara work. More on this painting

Saint Praxedes is a traditional Christian saint of the 2nd century. She is sometimes called Praxedis or Praxed. Little is known about Praxedes, and not all accounts agree. According to Jacobus de Voragine's The Golden Legend, Praxedes was the sister of Saint Pudentiana; their brothers were Saint Donatus and Saint Timothy. 

When the Emperor Marcus Antoninus was hunting down Christians, she sought them out to relieve them with money, care, comfort and every charitable aid. Some she hid in her house, others she encouraged to keep firm in the faith, and of yet others she buried the bodies; and she allowed those who were in prison or toiling in slavery to lack nothing. At last, being unable any longer to bear the cruelties inflicted on Christians, she prayed to God that, if it were expedient for her to die, she might be released from beholding such sufferings. And so on July 21 she was called to the reward of her goodness in Heaven. More on Saint Praxedes

Johannes, Jan or Johan Vermeer (1632 – December 1675) was a Dutch painter who specialized in domestic interior scenes of middle-class life. Vermeer was a moderately successful provincial genre painter in his lifetime. He evidently was not wealthy, leaving his wife and children in debt at his death, perhaps because he produced relatively few paintings.

Vermeer worked slowly and with great care, and frequently used very expensive pigments. He is particularly renowned for his masterly treatment and use of light in his work.

He was recognized during his lifetime in Delft and The Hague, but his modest celebrity gave way to obscurity after his death. In the 19th century, Vermeer was rediscovered by Gustav Friedrich Waagen and Théophile Thoré-Bürger, who published an essay attributing 66 pictures to him, although only 34 paintings are universally attributed to him today. Since that time, Vermeer's reputation has grown, and he is now acknowledged as one of the greatest painters of the Dutch Golden Age. More Vermeer

Felice Ficherelli, 1605 - 1645
Santa Prassede, c. 1640–1645
Oil on canvas
104 x 80.5 cm.
Collection Fergnani, Ferrarra

Felice Ficherelli (30 August 1605 – 5 March 1660) was an Italian painter of the Baroque period, born in San Gimignano and active mainly in Tuscany. Among Ficherelli's early patrons was Conte Bardi, who persuaded Ficherelli to move to Florence and to study with the painter Jacopo da Empoli. Empoli's influence is evident in the sumptuous fabrics seen in many of Ficherelli's works. Ficherelli was nicknamed "Felice Riposo" for his retiring nature.

There is a controversial copy of Ficherelli's Saint Praxedis, which appears to be signed by Johannes Vermeer and dated 1655. More on Felice Ficherelli



Antonio Leonelli, from Crevalcore,
Holy Family with san Giovanni Battista, ca 1490-1500
Tempera on canvas
67 x 57 cm.
Renaissance Palace Moscow


Antonio Leonelli (Antonio da Crevalcore) (Italian, Crevalcore, born by 1443–died by 1525, Bologna. The influence of Cossa's Bolognese painting on Crevalcore is clear, but the connection between Cossa's Ferrarese works or Ercole de' Roberti's later Ferrarese paintings and Crevalcore is less evident.

He is first mentioned as a painter in Bologna in 1461. He is then documented at intervals until 1525. His earliest documented painting, from 1480, is a ruinous fresco above the portico of the church San Giacomo Maggiore. His only other signed and dated painting, of 1493, was destroyed in Berlin during World War II. His fascination with perspectival devices and his love of trompe-l'oeil details found its expression in the still-lifes for which he became famous. More on Antonio Leonelli from Crevalcore


Dante Gabriel Rossetti, (1828–1882)
The Annunciation, circa 1849
Oil on canvas
Height: 724 mm (28.5 in). Width: 419 mm (16.5 in).
Tate Britain

Ecce Ancilla Domini (Latin: "Behold the handmaiden of the Lord"), or The Annunciation, is an oil painting by the English artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti, first painted in 1850 and now in Tate Britain in London. The Latin title is a quotation from the Vulgate text of the first chapter of the Gospel of Saint Luke, describing the Annunciation, where Mary accepts the message brought to her by the Angel Gabriel that she would give birth to a child (Jesus) by God. More on Ecce Ancilla Domini

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, (1828–1882)
The Annunciation, circa 1849
Detail

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (12 May 1828 – 9 April 1882) was an English poet, illustrator, painter and translator. He founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais. Rossetti was later to be the main inspiration for a second generation of artists and writers influenced by the movement. His work also influenced the European Symbolists and was a major precursor of the Aesthetic movement.

Rossetti's personal life was closely linked to his work, especially his relationships with his models and muses Elizabeth Siddal, Fanny Cornforth and Jane Morris. More on Dante Gabriel Rossetti

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