Religious Depictions in Art
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The Human Experience
The Vladimir Madonna
The Vladimir Madonna is a Russian icon painted during the 12th century. It is recognized by the arm of a child around the neck of the mother. It is designed in that the face the mother is facing the audience. The face out-shows human warmth and comprehension, as well as deep concern and sadness (Cooper, Dana, and Claire, 150).
The Mosaic Dome of the Great Mosque of Cordoba
It is the most important building and monument in the Muslim religion. It is beautifully decorated with no seat or altars inside and is used as a place of worship (Darke, 90). The monument symbolizes religious changes Cordoba has undergone over the centuries. It also reveals Islamic art and architecture of the 8th century (Darke, 91).
Giotto Lamentation (Burial of Jesus)
The work reveals the mourning of Christ. The monument consists of the painting of the body of Christ being held by three women that wear halos and biblical costumes (Lubbock, 248). The painting of the face depicts extreme sadness and lays the foundation of the Renaissance. Giotto is the artist and is commonly referred as the father of western painting (Lubbock, 248).
Duccio di Buoninsegna: Maesta (Virgin Mary Enthroned)
Duccio is one of the most influential artists in Italy. In his Maesta, the Virgin is painted sited on a marvelous inlaid throne. The face is painted to reveal a hint of a smile (Keith, 40).
Durham Cathedral (England)
It is one of the monuments founded in 1093. The building still remains centre of worship to date. The walls are whitewashed while the shrines of Cuthbert are substantially destroyed. The exterior displays are the stained broken glass windows (Ch’ing, Mark, and Prakash, 370).
Grunewald ‘Crucifixion’ from the Isenheim Altarpiece
The Crucifixion altarpiece is an impressive art by Matthias which depicts the crucifixion of Christ (Gardner, Helen, and Kleiner, 504). The monument was constructed and painted in early 1500s, essentially containing a box of statues covered by folding wings. The art generally consists painting of Christ with the witnesses of the crucifixion scene and as revealed in the biblical teachings (Gardner, Helen, and Kleiner, 504).
Raphael: The “Alba Madonna” and the “School of Athens”
Alba Madonna and the School of Athens depict the works of Raphael in 1500s. in his school of Athens, Raphael is celebrated for his paintings ranging from the depiction of Plato to Aristotle other sages that reveal human sentiments.
El Greco: “The Burial of Count Orgaz”
The burial is one of El Greco’s panting and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. The art was created in 1588 and is considered his greatest masterpiece of all time (Scholz-Hansel, Michael, and Greco, 51). The burial contains heaven painting above and a moral burial scene below.
“David” is a marble sculpture created in 1623 depicting Bernini’s architecture. The painting consist the sculpture of David of the bible in a position suggesting his confrontation with the giant Goliath (Janson, and Anthony, 5).
The Vladimir Madonna
The Vladimir Madonna reveals part of the life of the Russian history, accounting for the religious beliefs of that time. The icon was founded in 1395 and has remained since then (Cooper, Dana, and Claire, 150). The icon account for the miraculous interventions ascertained to it which makes the Russian people attached to it. The icon symbolizes the Russian’s acknowledgment of the Vladimir Virgin favors as contained in the scriptures. For instance, it symbolizes how Moscow was saved thrice from the Tartars on august of 1395 (Cooper, Dana, and Claire, 152). The Russian believe that the icon roused blazing enthusiasm in her defense during the attacks by the poles. The icon was later restored with the participation of religious leaders. It was then celebrated thrice a year in 1500s where the Russian held feasts in honor of the icon. It was considered a sacred treasure for them as it defended them against the Poles attacks of the Muscovites (Cooper, Dana, and Claire, 154).
The Vladimir icons exist in two groups. First is the Odigitria also known as “The Guide”. In this group, the Virgin is painted holding the child Jesus on her left arm while pointing to him with the right hand. The manner in which the icon is placed is interpreted to mean that the Virgin is guiding people, or rather communicating to the Russian that the child (Jesus) is ‘the chosen one’. The second group is the “tender hearted”. In this group, the Virgin holds the child (Jesus) with her right arm in manner as if cuddling ‘Him’ in a gentle way filled with maternal tenderness. Through the two groups, the icon depicts the attitude of the iconographer which symbolizes the religious perception at the time.
The icon depicts the Russian art and architecture during the 12th century. It also depicts the Russian religious beliefs at the time. This explains why the icon has been preserved up to date. More importantly, the icon helps us understand the human behavior in regard, as well as in connection with religious faith. The monument also reveals the great works and creativity of the artists of that time. The monument is an illustration of the continued revolution of human life, both socially and economically, as well politically. The transformation to the current world of civilization is also depicted. Through the icon, the Russian history is well revealed and described. For instance, Russian experienced three exceptional iconographers who cooperated in their painting talents to come up with a strong architecture.
Through the Vladimir Virgin, we learn more of the Biblical teaching and Christian faith, especially the Catholic faith. For instance, the prolonged gave of the Virgin to the baby Jesus reveals the deep concern of a mother-child love. The divine reveals the mother’s concern for her son’s future. The Virgin is aware of what awaits her Son, as it is revealed through the scriptures, “…and a sword will pierce your own soul” as contained in Luke 2-35. In ancient times, the Jerusalem school of icon painters prevailed against Greek and other influences. For instance, the Virgin is depicted as a conservative Palestinian girl with her head covered in accordance with the culture. As written in the scriptures, the clarity of Virgin Mary is crystalline. In the same manner, the veil of the icon is painted white to pass the same message. In that regard, there is a connection between the early architecture and the religious, as well as the culture of the people at that time. Likewise, the same values are passed from one generation to the other.
Giotto Lamentation (Burial of Jesus)
Giotto lamentation is similar to Vladimir Madonna. The monument consists of the painting of the body of Christ being held by three women that wear halos and biblical costumes (Lubbock, 248). The painting of the face depicts extreme sadness and lays the foundation of the Renaissance. Giotto is the artist and is commonly referred as the father of western painting. He creatively used Byzantine techniques to create an emotional biblical story that combines traditional Byzantine elements of painting (Lubbock, 248). For instance, Giotto uses the dimensional layout and iconography in his painting to bring about emotion revelation of the death of Christ. The manner in which he displays his painting invites the viewers to witness the pain the Christ experienced during the lamentation. The paintings are displayed in that one can almost hear the sobs of the women around the body (Lubbock, 249). In the same manner, one can feel the shrieks from the angels above at a close look of the painting of the angles.
Giotto’s lamentation depicts a realistic turn of events, turning the paintings into real human beings with real emotions. The painting consists of the body of Christ, some women and men, and angles (Lubbock, 250). They all surrounding the body of Christ and preventing it from touching the ground. At Jesus’ feet is a woman whom we believe is Mary Magdalene from the biblical teaching. We are able to recognize her from her long red hair. The entire painting reveals the burial of the Christ as explained in the scriptures. The painting is about 7.5 feet square and relies entirely on the Bible, including the meditation on the life of Christ as described in the monk of the 13th century (Lubbock, 250).
Giotto’s painting was done between the 12th and the 13th centuries when Christianity was widely spreading across the Roman Empire. It was during the reign of Emperor Constantine and Christianity emerged the most powerful institution in Western Europe. With the spread of the Christianity came the foundation of the Renaissance. The Renaissance was kinder like the birth of the ancient Greek and Roman culture. This came during the time economic prosperity in Europe and this gave birth to art which mainly concentrated on the human culture. Giotto mainly opened the way into a new style early painting by creating a world that is symbolic. His understanding of human form is well expressed through his painting skills as an artist. He clearly separates the human forms from the saintly counterparts. Heaven and earth are well demonstrated as well as joined together through the body of Christ.
Giotto’s architecture mainly focuses on the birth and the spread of Christianity from one generation to the other. His work has proved to be one of the most influential architecture in Europe. Lamentation depicts the process of the burial of the Christ. In other word, the painting is self explanatory of what is written in the scripture. It enables readers understand the roman cultures, especially the Roman Catholic faith. It serves also as a quicker revelation of the roman culture relation the events that took place during the burial of Christ with the current faith of the Christians. With the painting, Christians can easily and effectively relate with the reality that the followers of Christ faced by then. The paintings are emotional to carry out the message effectively.
Durham Cathedral (England)
It is one of the monuments founded in 1093 (Gardner, Helen, and. Kleiner, 181). The building still remains centre of worship to date. It was the first cathedral in Europe and is made of stone rib vaulting, with the earliest pointed transverse arches in England. The main entry is through the north door. The door contain a sanctuary knocker made of bronze and is specifically used during medieval times by those seeking sanctuary. The Durham Cathedral’s nave is surrounded by attractive massive curved pillars, 6.6 meters high and round (Gardner, Helen, and. Kleiner, 181). The pillars have stood for more than 900 years. The building contains a long narrow slab of frosterly stone where women remained as they were not allowed to enter the building. The walls are whitewashed while the shrines of Cuthbert are substantially destroyed. The exterior displays are the stained broken glass windows (Gardner, Helen, and. Kleiner, 182).
On the west end is the Galilee chapel, very large and beautifully decorated, and was built in 1170 (Ching, Mark, and Vikramaditya, 370). The chapel contains a tomb and monk built in the 8th century. The northern side walls contain painting of the 12th century (Ch’ing, Mark, and Vikramaditya, 370). Additionally, the quire contains finely curved wood stalls along which the daily services take place. The chapels also contain the bishop’s throne where the bishop used to seat. Separated from St. Cuthbert’s shrine is the high altar which is the focal point of the chapel. There is a Castell’s clock situated in the south transept which is believed to have been provided by Thomas Castell in 1494 (Ch’ing, Mark, and Vikramaditya, 370). The entire monument is well maintained in its original form is acts like a museum for tourists.
Durham Cathedral is one of the biggest Cathedrals and was kept to symbolize the origin of the Christian Catholic faith. The building has been kept in its original form apart from few changes which include paintings on the walls but its interior and exterior outlays have been maintained. The chapel is used as the center of worship and mainly acts as a sign of unity among the believers. The chapel takes after the main chapel of all time; the old St. Peter’s situated in Rome. Just like the Old St. Peter’s square in Rome, Durham Cathedral plays a major role in England.
Durham Cathedral depicts the origin of the Catholic faith which signifies the cultural beliefs of its followers. It also signifies the traditional roman architecture of all time. The chapel can be used to study human behavior and perceptions towards a particular subjected. For instance, most Christians belief in life after death, and that Christ died on the cross for our sins. This might be different from Islamic religion. Additionally, Christians can use the chapel to trace their root of their faith, as well as trace or find answers about a particular issue. Nonetheless, the chapel can as well be used as a museum, especially for artist who want to learn and explore their skills in the field art.
Ching, Francis D. K, Mark Jarzombek, and Vikramaditya Prakash. A Global History of Architecture. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley, 2011. Internet resource. (pg, 370)
Christiansen, Keith. Duccio and the Origins of Western Painting. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2008. Print. (Pg 40)
Cooper, Dana, and Claire Phelan. Motherhood and War: International Perspectives. , 2014. Print. (Pg150)
Darke, Diana. Syria. Chalfont St. Peter: Bradt Travel Guides, 2010. Print. 90
Gardner, Helen, and Fred S. Kleiner. Gardner's Art Through the Ages: The Western Perspective. Boston, Mass.: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2010. Print. (Pg 255).
Gardner, Helen, and Fred S. Kleiner. Gardner's Art Through the Ages: A Concise Global History. Australia: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, 2009. Print. 181-182
Gardner, Helen, and Fred S. Kleiner. Gardner's Art Through the Ages: The Western Perspective. Boston, Mass.: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2010. Print. (Pg 504)
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Lubbock, Jules. Storytelling in Christian Art from Giotto to Donatello. New Haven [u.a.: Yale University Press, 2006. Print. (Pg,248)
Scholz-Hansel, Michael, and Greco. El Greco: Domenikos Theotokopoulos, 1541-1614. Hong Kong, China: Taschen, 2006. Print. (Pg, 51)
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