Friday, July 24, 2009

Doubting Thomas

Title: Doubting Thomas
Artist: Guercino
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 80 x 108 cm
Date: c. 1621
Location: Residenzgalerie Salzburg.

As portrayed in John 20:24-28, Jesus had appeared to many of his disciples after his resurrection, but Thomas was not among them. He professed: “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe." Sure enough, eight days later, Jesus again appeared to his disciples and invited Thomas to "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe."

This painting allows us the opportunity to envision the Savior's conversation with Thomas. It makes it possible for us to focus our minds on the event and more fully internalize the Savior's admonition: "Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:29) One of the aims of the masters of Baroque painting was to create a greater sense on intimacy, especially when dealing with a scared event. And indeed Guercino has done so, virtually under spotlight, and ensures there is no doubt as to the physical presence of Jesus Christ, wounds and all. The intimacy is there for the viewer as well as for Thomas.

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (February 8, 1591 — December 9, 1666), also known as Guercino, was an Italian Baroque painter from the region of Emilia. Il Guercino (Italian for "the squinter") was a nickname that was given to him because he was cross-eyed. He was self-taught but developed precociously, and managed to become one of the major artists of his day. He is especially noted for his many superb drawings.

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