Saturday, December 25, 2010

Holy Family and Trinity

Title: Holy Family and Trinity
Artist: Jacob de Wit
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 140 x 105 cm
Date: 1726
Location: Amstelkring Museum, Amsterdam.

Matthew 2:19-23: After Herod died, Joseph had a dream while he was still in Egypt. In the dream an angel of the Lord appeared to him. The angel said, "Get up! Take the child and his mother. Go to the land of Israel. Those who were trying to kill the child are dead." So Joseph got up. He took the child and his mother Mary back to the land of Israel. But then he heard that Archelaus was king of Judea. Archelaus was ruling in place of his father Herod. This made Joseph afraid to go there. Warned in a dream, Joseph went back to the land of Galilee instead. There he lived in a town called Nazareth. So what the prophets had said about Jesus came true. They had said, "He will be called a Nazarene."

Every unjust empire in history has ultimately fallen, but God's church continues to endure. To oppressed Christians, whether persecuted for their faith or repressed for other unjust reasons, this reminder of the oppressors' mortality is a reminder that all trials are temporary and our loving Father remains in control. The angelic orders to return to the land of Israel because those seeking the child's life were dead explicitly recall Exodus 4:19-20. Jewish readers would have immediately recognized the allusion: like Moses, Jesus had outlived his persecutor and would lead his people to salvation.

This painting, made by a private church just outside Amsterdam, shows the Holy Family (horizontal) and the Trinity: God the Father, the Holy Spirit and Christ (vertical). Christ is the pivot at the centre of the two groups of three. This expresses the theological concept of Christ's dual nature; the human and the divine.

Jacob de Wit (December 1695 –November 1754) was a Dutch artist who painted many religious scenes. De Wit was born in Amsterdam, and as a Catholic, was the first Dutch artist since the 16th century to carry out a good deal of decorative work for Catholic churches. He was also famous for his door and ceiling paintings. He lived on the Keizersgracht in Amsterdam, and many of the buildings on the Keizersgracht still have door or ceiling paintings done by him. Since many of the families who lived in Amsterdam in those days had country villas, de Wit also painted in houses in the fashionable areas of Haarlem and the Vecht river.

... And, as it states in Luke 2:40 “the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.” Amen.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Scene of the massacre of the Innocents

Title: Scene of the massacre of the Innocents
Artist: Léon Cogniet
Medium: Oil on fabric
Size: 265 X 235 cm
Date: 1824
Location: Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rennes.

Matthew 2:16-18: When Herod realized that the Magi left and had not reported back to him as requested, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

Matthew does not simply report the murder of the children of Bethlehem dispassionately; he chooses an ancient lament from one of the most sorrowful times of his people's history. Jeremiah 31:15 speaks of Rachel weeping for her children, poetically describing the favored mother of Benjamin (standing for all Judah) mourning because her descendants were led into exile. Rachel, who wept from her grave in Bethlehem during the captivity, was now weeping at another, nearer crisis significant in salvation history.

Where medieval and renaissance painters showed mayhem and murder, Cogniet shows only fear. He favored a fragmented, anecdotal take on this event rather than a broad descriptive composition. This Scene of the massacre of the innocent is without any doubt the masterpiece of Leon Cogniet. The work is made up in two plans: with the first this mother and her child, a mass painful rebalanced by the wall in ruins advancing in front of the composition. In the second plan, the massacre animated in a severe light erases the shapes of the characters. The woman with the dilated and dark eyes, offers the synthesis of an ideal beauty and a commonplace realism. Cogniet treated the foreground in a harmony of colors gray, beige, black, and blues.

Léon Cogniet (August 1794 –November 1880) was a French historical and portrait painter. he entered the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he studied under Pierre-Narcisse Guérin at the same time as Delacroix and Géricault. In 1817 he won the Prix de Rome and was a resident at the Villa Medici from 1817 to 1822.

The Flight into Egypt

Title: The Flight into Egypt
Artist: George Hitchcock
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 113 x 166 cm
Date: 1892
Location: Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Matthew 2:14-15: Joseph got up. During the night, he left for Egypt with the child and his mother Mary. They stayed there until King Herod died. So the words the Lord had spoken through the prophet came true. He had said, "I chose to bring my son out of Egypt."

By quoting the beginning of Hosea's prophecy, Matthew declares that Jesus' sojourn in Egypt fulfills the prophecy. Matthew evokes the passage as a whole and shows how Jesus is the forerunner of the new exodus, the time of ultimate salvation. Matthew uses God's pattern in history to remind us that our call and destiny must define us. We are the people of the new exodus, the people of God's kingdom. Matthew's quotation from Hosea also reminds us that Jesus identifies with his people's heritage. Jesus appears as the promised one greater than Moses and the heir of God's call to Israel. As God protected Moses when Pharaoh killed the male Israelite children, so God protects Jesus.

In this depiction Hitchcock secularized the subject, placing the biblical figures in the landscape of Holland, where he lived for some time. This prompted a critic of the day to write: “It is a very gracious arrangement of color, but entirely without value as a sacred picture.” However, such a view fails to take into account earlier iconography of this event. The background to these scenes usually included a number of apocryphal miracles, such as blooming flora, and gave an opportunity for the emerging genre of landscape painting. During the 16th century, as interest in landscape painting grew, the subject became a popular one for paintings, often with the figures small in a large landscape. The subject was especially popular with German Romantic painters, and later in the 19th century was one of a number of New Testament subjects which lent themselves to Orientalist treatment.

George Hitchcock (1850–1913), was an American artist born in Providence, Rhode Island. He studied law at Harvard and practiced at the bar until age twenty-nine, when he turned to art. In 1879 he worked at the Académie Julian in Paris and the next year established a studio in Holland where he remained for the rest of his life. He first established his reputation as a painter of large-scale religious paintings in which biblical subjects are garbed in contemporary peasant dress. He later turned from these loosely brushed works in silvery gray light to more brilliantly colorful, sunlit paintings of Dutch tulip fields and peasant women in colorful local dress. Though less well known today, during his life he was regarded in Europe and America as one of the best painters of his period.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Dream of St Joseph

Title: The Dream of St Joseph
Artist: Rembrandt Harmenszoon Van Rijn
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 105 x 83 cm
Date: 1655
Location: Museum Of Fine Arts, Budapest, Hungary.

Matthew 2:13: When the Wise Men had left, Joseph had a dream. In the dream an angel of the Lord appeared to him. "Get up!" the angel said. "Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you to come back. Herod is going to search for the child. He wants to kill him."

Jesus' miraculous escape here should not lead us to overlook the nature of his deliverance (compare, for example, 1 Kings 17:2-6). Jesus and his family survived, but they survived as refugees, abandoning any livelihood Joseph may have had at home as they were undoubtedly traveling lightly. Although travel within Egypt was may have been easy for visitors with means, many Judeans had traditionally regarded refuge in Egypt as a last resort.

Figures or scenes from the New Testament are relatively rare in the works of seventeenth-century Dutch painters. For Rembrandt, however, the Bible was an inexhaustible source of inspiration, providing with him innumerable examples of human joys and sorrows. The Holy family is shown resting in a dim stable; Mary is protected from the cold by a large shawl which she has also folded round the Infant on her lap so that only his tiny face is visible. Joseph, depicted as a clumsy Dutch peasant, is seen awakening from the sleep of exhaustion, dazed by a brilliant apparition which puts a hand on his shoulder as a sign of heavenly comfort, support and encouragement for the weak. The angel is the source of the warm golden light suffusing the whole group.

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (July, 1606 – October, 1669) was a Dutch painter and etcher. He is generally considered one of the greatest painters and printmakers in European art history, his work contributing to a period that historians call the Dutch Golden Age. In contrast to his successful public career, however, Rembrandt's family life was marked by misfortune. His wife, Saskia, gave birth to four children, but only the last, Titus, survived; her own death came in 1642 at the age of 30. And despite Rembrandt's financial success as an artist, teacher, and art dealer, his penchant for ostentatious living forced him to declare bankruptcy in 1656.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holy Family

Title: Holy Family (Barberini)
Artist: Andrea Del Sarto
Medium: Oil on panel
Size: 140 x 104 cm
Date: c. 1528
Location: Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome.

When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord they represented the Holy Family.

Veneration of the Holy Family was formally begun in the 17th century by Mgr François de Laval (30 April 1623 – 6 May 1708), the first Roman Catholic bishop of New France and one of the most influential men of his day. The feast of the Holy Family was instituted by Pope Leo XIII in 1893, and is now observed the Sunday within the Octave of Christmas, that is between Christmas and New Year's Day, or when there is no Sunday within the Octave (if both Christmas Day and New Year's Day are Sundays), it is held on 30 December, a Friday in such years.

Andrea del Sarto (1486 – 1531) was an Italian painter from Florence, whose career flourished during the High Renaissance and early-Mannerism. Though highly regarded during his lifetime as an artist senza errori ("without errors"), his renown was eclipsed after his untimely death by that of his contemporaries, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael. In 1517 or 1518 he married a wealthy widow who had modeled for him for several years, both for portraits and for Madonnas. He went to France in 1518/19 at the invitation of François I and was well received there, but he broke his contract in order to return to his wife, who, in the opinion of contemporaries, ruined him. Andrea's works are of great importance in the evolution of Florentine painting, especially the Holy Families, often in half-length. His Madonnas are notable for their softly atmospheric qualities and the richness of their color, in contrast to the linear definition and clear, bright hues of artists like Botticelli and Ghirlandaio.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Saint Anne

Title: Saint Anne
Artist: James Tissot
Medium: Watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper
Size: 20.5 x 14.8 cm
Date: c. 1890
Location: Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York.

Luke 2:36-38: There was also a prophet named Anna. She was the daughter of Penuel from the tribe of Asher. Anna was very old. After getting married, she lived with her husband seven years. Then she was a widow until she was. She never left the temple. She worshiped night and day, praying and going without eating. Anna came up to Jesus' family at that very moment. She gave thanks to God. And she spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the time when Jerusalem would be set free.

Though no details of Anna's prophecy are given, this section completes the cycle of male and female witnesses. Again, Anna's piety is underlined by references to her old age, her faithful widowhood and her regular ministry at the temple. She is full of thanksgiving at the arrival of the child who will complete God's promise, and she speaks about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. Her teaching would have been heard by all who frequented the temple. Her hope, like Simeon's, looks to the completion of what God is starting.

James Jacques Joseph Tissot (October 15, 1836 – August 8, 1902) was a French painter. After the death of his longtime companion Kathleen Newton in 1882, Tissot spent some time in Palestine. In Paris in 1896 he débuted the series of 350 drawings of the life of Christ, and the following year found them on show in London. They were then published by the firm of Lemercier in Paris, who paid him 1,100,000 francs. The merits of Tissot's Bible illustrations lay in the care with which he studied the details of scenery rather than any religious sentimentality. He seemed to aim for accuracy, and, in his figures, for vivid realism, which was far removed from the conventional treatment of sacred types.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Presentation in the Temple

Title: Presentation in the Temple
Artist: Lodovico Carracci
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 122 x 92 cm
Date: c. 1605
Location: Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid.

Luke 2:22-35: The time for making them pure came as it is written in the Law of Moses. So Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Jerusalem. There they presented him to the Lord. In the Law of the Lord it says, "The first boy born in every family must be set apart for the Lord." They also offered a sacrifice. They did it in keeping with the Law, which says, "a pair of doves or two young pigeons." In Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was a good and godly man. He was waiting for God's promise to Israel to happen. The Holy Spirit was with him. The Spirit had told Simeon that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. The Spirit led him into the temple courtyard. Then Jesus' parents brought the child in. They came to do for him what the Law required. Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised God. He said, "Lord, you are the King over all. Now let me, your servant, go in peace. That is what you promised. My eyes have seen your salvation. You have prepared it in the sight of all people. It is a light to be given to those who aren't Jews. It will bring glory to your people Israel." The child's father and mother were amazed at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them. He said to Mary, Jesus' mother, "This child is going to cause many people in Israel to fall and to rise. God has sent him. But many will speak against him. The thoughts of many hearts will be known. A sword will wound your own soul too."

Jesus' parents are law-abiding Jews. They show up at the temple to perform sacrifices associated with the wife's purification after birth. Such a ceremony occurs forty days after the child's arrival. The Spirit of God directs this scene, because he had revealed to Simeon that death would not come until he had seen the Lord's Christ. Promise, fulfillment and God's direction stand behind the prophecy of this old saint.

In contrast to Caravaggio, who attracted many critics during his lifetime, the Carracci's classicism was extremely successful amongst aristocratic circles and produced a school with numerous followers. Annibale Carracci headed the workshop, which also included his gifted cousin Lodovico. The scene in the Presentation in the Temple is subordinated to a geometric compositional order, marked out by the strict classical architecture of the background which structures the pictorial space into horizontal and vertical bands. The protagonists - the Virgin, the Infant Christ, the elderly Simeon stretching out his arms to the Child, the prophetess Anna with her prophecy inscribed on the marble tablet, and Joseph on the left - are arranged in an orderly way in the foreground with stately gestures and poses.

Lodovico (or Lodovico) Carracci (April 1555 – November 1619) was an Italian, early-Baroque painter, etcher, and printmaker born in Bologna. Along with his cousins Annibale and Agostino Carracci, Ludovico in 1585 was a founder and director (caposindaco) of the so-called Eclectic Academy of painting (also called the Accademia degli Incamminati), which in reality was a studio with apprenticed assistants. The Carracci are credited with reinvigorating Italian art, specially fresco art, which was subsumed with formalistic Mannerism. Lodovico's own sensitivity derived from his deep knowledge of Venetian painting. His style was composed of delicate gestures, bashful looks, and a good deal of narrative drama. Especially in his medium to small pictures this readily became lyrical poetry.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Dream Of The Magi

Title: The Dream Of The Magi
Artist: Unknown
Medium: Illumination on parchment
Size: 18 x 14 cm
Date: c. 1123
Location: St. Albans Psalter, St Godehard's Church, Hilesheim.

Matthew 2:12: But God warned them in a dream not to go back to Herod. So they returned to their country on a different road.

That the Magi needed a supernatural revelation to warn them not to return by way of Jerusalem suggests their innocent naiveté. Even without Herod's unadmirable character, few kings would be ready to surrender their own rule to a nonrelative some foreigners hailed as king! The Magi's innocence compared to Herod's murderous shrewdness again reminds Matthew's readers not to prejudge the appropriate recipients of the gospel. Jesus is for all who will receive him, and God may provide Jesus' servants with allies in unexpected places if we have the wisdom to recognize them.

The kings, with realistically different poses, including one showing bare feet, are warned by the angel to return home without visiting Herod again. On a 12th-century capital at Autun, the angel also approaches from the side. The folds of the bed and the angel’s wings are echoed by the roof above.

One of several psalters known to have been created at or for St Albans Abbey in the 12th century, the St Albans Psalter, also known as the Albani Psalter or the Psalter of Christina of Markyate, is an English illuminated manuscript. With its almost unprecedented lavishness of decoration, containing a number of iconographic innovations that would endure throughout the Middle Ages, this psalter is widely considered to be one of the most important examples of English Romanesque book production.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Adoration of the Magi

Title: The Adoration of the Magi
Artist: Joseph Christian Leyendecker
Medium: Printed Magazine Cover
Size: 103 x 80 cm
Date: 1900
Location: From “Saturday Evening Post” magazine, Curtis Publishing Co.

Matthew 2:11: The Wise Men went to the house. There they saw the child with his mother Mary. They bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures. They gave him gold, incense and myrrh.

That the Magi offer Jesus both homage and standard gifts from the East fits Eastern practices; for instance, royal courts there used frankincense and myrrh (though these spices also had many other uses). The Magi's homage to Jesus may reflect biblical language alluding to the pilgrimage and homage of nations in Psalm 72:10 or Isaiah 60:6. Regardless, this homage reinforces the point of the narrative: if God's people will not honor Jesus, former pagans will.

Joseph Christian Leyendecker (March, 1874 – July, 1951) was one of the pre-eminent American illustrators of the early 20th century. He is best known for his poster, book, and advertising illustrations, the trade character known as The Arrow Collar Man, and his numerous covers for the Saturday Evening Post. During ‘The Golden Age of American Illustration’, for the Saturday Evening Post alone, Leyendecker produced 322 covers, as well as many advertisement illustrations for its interior pages. His Easter, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas covers were annual events for the Post’s millions of readers. No other artist, until the arrival of Norman Rockwell two decades later, was so solidly identified with one publication. Leyendecker is credited as having virtually invented the whole idea of modern magazine design.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

They Will All Come From Saba

Title: They Will All Come From Saba
Artist: Salvador Dali
Medium: Watercolor on paper
Size: tbd
Date: 1963-64
Location: Salvador Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg

Matthew 2:9-10 After the Wise Men had listened to the king, they went on their way. The star they had seen when they were in the east went ahead of them. It finally stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy.

After the Magi have left Jerusalem, they would likely have followed a road that led south to Bethlehem, which was about six miles from Jerusalem, so the rest of the Magi's journey probably did not take very long. As such, it would have been difficult to determine the exact position of the star in relation to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, unless the object were only a mile high. However, the Magi being led by a supernatural sign does recall how God was able to lead his own people by fire and cloud in the wilderness as recorded in Exodus.

Salvador Dali (1904 - 1989) was a Spanish Catalan surrealist painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and designer. Although he is best known for his Surrealist works, Salvador Dalí incorporated countless styles and themes into his work throughout his long and illustrious career. Many of the images he utilized in his mid and late career were religious in nature. Commissioned by Dr. Giuseppe Albaretto, a friend of Salvador Dalí and collector of his work, as a way to encourage Dalí to re-examine his spirituality and draw him back into the Catholic Church, Dalí’s Biblia Sacra encompasses 105 paintings based on passages from the Latin Vulgate Bible.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Circumcision

Title: The Circumcision
Artist: Giulio Romano
Medium: oil on wood transferred to canvas
Size: 15 x 122 cm
Date: c. 1515
Location: Musée du Louvre, Paris.

Luke 2:21: When the child was eight days old, he was circumcised. At the same time he was named Jesus. This was the name the angel had given him before his mother became pregnant.

Reflecting the piety of obedient Jewish parents, Joseph and Mary undertake to circumcise the child on the eighth day and give him the name the angel said he should possess, Jesus. In every action this couple is showing faithfulness. They are examples of faith. As devout Jewish parents, they follow the Mosaic law. It is because Christ was circumcised that the Gentile Christian no longer needs circumcision. In the words of St. Ambrose: "Since the price has been paid for all after Christ . . . suffered, there is no longer need for the blood of each individual to be shed by circumcision."

Giulio Romano (c. 1499 –November 1546) was an Italian painter and architect. A pupil of Raphael, his stylistic deviations from high Renaissance classicism help define the 16th-century style known as Mannerism. In his native city, as a young assistant in Raphael's studio, he worked on the frescoes in the Vatican loggias to designs by Raphael and in Raphael's Stanze in the Vatican painted a group of figures in the Fire in the Borgo fresco. After the Sack of Rome in 1527 and the death of Leo X, artistic patronage in Rome slackened. He traveled to France in the first half of the 16th century and brought concepts of the Italian style to the French court of Francis I.

The Magi enter Jerusalem

Title: The Magi enter Jerusalem
Artist: William Hole
Medium: Printed book illustration
Size: 29 x 24 cm
Date: c.1905
Location: From “The Life of Jesus of Nazareth Portrayed in Colours.” London: Eyre & Spottiswoode.

Matthew 2:1-8: Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea. This happened while Herod was king of Judea. After Jesus' birth, Wise Men from the east came to Jerusalem. They asked, "Where is the child who has been born to be king of the Jews? When we were in the east, we saw his star. Now we have come to worship him." When King Herod heard about it, he was very upset. Everyone in Jerusalem was troubled too. So Herod called together all the chief priests of the people. He also called the teachers of the law. He asked them where the Christ was going to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied. "This is what the prophet has written. He said, 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are certainly not the least important among the towns of Judah. A ruler will come out of you. He will be the shepherd of my people Israel.' " Then Herod called for the Wise Men secretly. He found out from them exactly when the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem. He said, "Go! Make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, bring me a report. Then I can go and worship him too."

The first story after Jesus' birth opens with Magi who have traveled a long distance to offer homage to a new king born in Judea. They enter Jerusalem with a large enough caravan to attract the city's attention; they must have assumed that they would find the newborn king in Herod's palace in Jerusalem. This passage reminds us that we must preach the gospel to all people because we cannot always predict who will hear the message and who will not. Those we least expect to honor Jesus may worship him, and those we least expect to oppose him may seek his death. This passage confronts Matthew's readers with a summons to personal decision by contrasting the main characters. The Magi worship Jesus; Herod seeks his death; Jerusalem's religious elite - forerunners of the opponents of Matthew's audience - take Jesus for granted. The reader must identify with the pagan Magi rather than with Herod or Jerusalem's religious elite.

William Hole (1846 – 1917) was the only child of Richard and Anne Hole, born in Salisbury in 1846. His father was a doctor, and the family soon relocated to Edinburgh where William received his education at the Edinburgh Academy. While traveling through Italy he befriended some artists in Rome who convinced him that he should pursue a career in art. Anyone who has visited the Holy Land, on seeing Hole's paintings, always comment that he has managed to capture the very atmosphere of the land. Both his use of light, and the colors used in his landscapes make Hole's Bible pictures truly memorable. It was no doubt his method of painting 'on the spot' that helped him to capture these essential ingredients in his pictures.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Adoration of the Shepherds

Title: Adoration of the Shepherds
Artist: Charles Le Brun
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 151 x 213 cm
Date: 1689
Location: Musée du Louvre, Paris.

Luke 2:16-19: So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby. The baby was lying in the manger. After the shepherds had seen him, they told everyone. They reported what the angel had said about this child. All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary kept all these things like a secret treasure in her heart. She thought about them over and over.

This birth is no mere arrival of a new life, as poignant as each such event is. The story is not told so that hearers can identify with the new mother and father or enjoy a story of hope, of a touching birth in humble surroundings. This birth has value because of whose birth it is. The shepherds have found that the angel's words were true, that events have transpired just as they had been told. God's word is coming to pass; his plan is again strategically at work. They break out in praise to God because he has sent Jesus, the Savior, Lord and Christ. This picture shows how clever Le Brun was at composition, at mingling the world beyond with earthly life and at controlling the fantastic effects of the light produced by a screened fire.

Charles Le Brun (February, 1619, - February 1690), was a French painter and designer who became the arbiter of artistic production in France during the last half of the 17th century. After training with Vouet he went to Rome in 1642 and worked under Poussin, becoming a convert to the latter's theories of art. He returned to Paris in 1646. Possessing both technical facility and the capacity to organize and carry out many vast projects, Le Brun personally created or supervised the production of most of the paintings, sculptures, and decorative objects commissioned by the French government for three decades during the reign of Louis XIV. Under his direction French artists created a homogeneous style that came to be accepted throughout Europe as the paragon of academic and propagandistic art.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Angels appearing to the Shepherds

Title: The Angels appearing to the Shepherds
Artist: William Blake
Medium: Pencil, pen and ink (brown) & watercolor
Size: 25.5 x 19.3 cm
Date: 1809
Location: The Whitworth Art gallery, Manchester.

Luke 2:8-15: There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby. It was night, and they were looking after their sheep. An angel of the Lord appeared to them. And the glory of the Lord shone around them. They were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy. It is for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord. Here is how you will know I am telling you the truth. You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger." Suddenly a large group of angels from heaven also appeared. They were praising God. They said, "May glory be given to God in the highest heaven! And may peace be given to those he is pleased with on earth!" The angels left and went into heaven. Then the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem. Let's see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

Joy comes with an angelic proclamation of good news (euangelizomai). The message is for all the people. Though in the original context such a messianic announcement would have been understood as being for the people of Israel, the development of Jesus' ministry shows that Jesus' work reaches beyond such national boundaries. As with other incidents in the infancy material, the angel describes a sign: the shepherds will know this announcement is true when they see the child in a manger. The angelic announcement does not come in mystical isolation; it connects to concrete events.

William Blake (November 1757 – August 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Blake is considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. Reverent of the Bible but hostile to the Church of England, Blake was influenced by the ideals and ambitions of the French and American revolutions, as well as by such thinkers as Jacob Boehme and Emanuel Swedenborg. Blake's work was neglected for a generation after his death and was almost forgotten when Alexander Gilchrist began work on his biography in the 1860s. The publication of the Life of William Blake rapidly transformed Blake's reputation, in particular as he was taken up by Pre-Raphaelites and associated figures, in particular Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Algernon Charles Swinburne. It was in the twentieth century, however, that Blake's work was fully appreciated and his influence increased.

The Nativity

Title: The Nativity
Artist: Marten de Vos
Medium: Oil on Panel
Size: 106 x 75 cm
Date: 1577
Location: O.-L. Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerp.

Luke 2:7: Then she placed him in a manger. There was no room for them in the inn.

The manger was a feeding trough for animals; sometimes these may have been built into the floor. The word traditionally translated as “Inn” may also mean “home” or “Guest room”; with all Joseph’s scattered family members returning home at once, it is easier for Mary to bear and care for a newborn in a livestock shelter outside.

In this painting the artist depicts three little angels kneeling with Mary and Joseph in worship of the newborn Child. The ox and the ass stand behind them. The ruin behind Joseph symbolizes the defeat of paganism by the coming of the Savior. The artist has made the symbolism even plainer by including a relief in the classical ruin - a recumbent female nude, possibly Venus, and several playful little naked figures. These represent the pagan world and 'impure', earthly love, as opposed to the divine love in which Christ was conceived.

Marten de Vos (1532–1603), also Maarten, was a leading Antwerp painter and draughtsman in the late sixteenth century. He spent some time in Italy, where he familiarized himself with the new art of the Renaissance. De Vos was also highly influenced by the colors of Venetian painting, and might have worked in the studio of Tintoretto. This is apparent in details like the lively poses, the realistic approach to the anatomy and the references to classical antiquity. The divided upper zone, one half containing an architectural setting and the other a deep landscape, was also typical of 16th-century Venetian art.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Nativity

Title: The Nativity
Artist: El Greco
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 128 cm diameter
Date: 1603-05
Location: Hospital de la Caridad, Illescas.

Luke 2:6-7: While Joseph and Mary were there, the time came for the child to be born. She gave birth to her first baby. It was a boy. She wrapped him in large strips of cloth.

The contrast to the birth of John the Baptist is remarkable. John's birth was announced in the capital, at the temple, in the center of the Jewish nation. But Jesus arrives in rural anonymity. John is the child of a priest and his righteous wife; Jesus belongs to Jews of average social status. God did not presume upon humanity when he stepped in to redeem it. There was no pretense in this arrival. Rather, God chose to identify in the humblest way with those made in his image.

On 18 June 1603 El Greco signed a contract to make and decorate an altarpiece for a miraculous image of the Virgin of Charity belonging to the Hospital de la Caridad in the small town of Illescas halfway between Toledo and Madrid. According to the contract the main altarpiece and the decoration of the vault were to contain four canvases: The Madonna of Charity, The Coronation of the Virgin, The Annunciation and The Nativity. This project was executed in collaboration with the artist's son, Jorge Manual Theotokopoulos. Although El Greco treated the subject of the nativity several times, this is his only version depicting the Holy Family without other human participants. In the shadows to the left, an ass contemplates the scene. In the foreground the foreshortened head of an ox, his horn echoing the curve of the circular format, looks up from below.

El Greco (1541 – April 1614) was a painter, sculptor, and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. Today considered one of the greatest artists of the Spanish school El Greco (the Greek) was actually born in Crete, a Greek island under Venetian control. The artist always acknowledged this origin, signing his works with his given name, Domenikos Theotokopoulus, in Greek characters. Interest in his art revived at the end of the 19th century and with the development of Expressionism in the 20th century he came into his own. The strangeness of his art has inspired various theories, for example that he was mad or suffered from astigmatism, but his rapturous paintings make complete sense as an expression of the religious fervor of his adopted country.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Arrival of the Holy Family in Bethlehem

Title: Arrival of the Holy Family in Bethlehem
Artist: Cornelis Massys
Medium: Oil on oak
Size: 27 x 38 cm
Date: 1543
Location: Staatliche Museen, Berlin.

Luke 2:1-5: In those days, Caesar Augustus made a law. It required that a list be made of everyone in the whole Roman world. It was the first time a list was made of the people while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be listed. So Joseph went also. He went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea. That is where Bethlehem, the town of David, was. Joseph went there because he belonged to the family line of David. He went there with Mary to be listed. Mary was engaged to him. She was expecting a baby.

A journey to the ancestral home would have fit Jewish practice, so that the custom was done in a culturally inoffensive manner. This was important, since an Imperial tax would have been a painful reminder of Israel's position before Rome. That Bethlehem is the town of David links Jesus’ birth with the promise of Micah 5:1-2, from Bethlehem will come “one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” The association of David with the birth sounds a regal note, even if the allusion is made subtlety.

Though not of the Palestinian landscape, this painting is striking for its faithful attention to rustic detail from the homeland of the painter. Shown after having been turned away from the inn, the Holy Family's presence seems almost incidental to such a loving delineation of landscape. Their identity is secured, however, by the celestial light piercing the clouds in the upper left of the image, a luminous line pointing to Mary and Joseph as they try in vain to secure lodging.

Cornelis Massys (1510 - ca. 1556) was a Flemish painter, draughtsman and engraver, and son of Quentin Massys, the first important painter of the Antwerp school. Like his elder brother Jan Massys, Cornelis was admitted to the Guild of St Luke in Antwerp in 1532, before reaching the age of majority. It is unlikely that he ever worked with his father or brother. Cornelis emerged as a fine painter of imaginary landscapes in the manner of Joachim Patenier, but his figures are generally less successful.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Engagement of the Virgin

Title: The Engagement of the Virgin
Artist: Michael Pacher
Medium: Oil on wood
Size: 113 x 139.5 cm
Date: 1495-98
Location: Österreichische Galerie, Vienna.

Matthew 1:24-25: Joseph woke up. He did what the angel of the Lord commanded him to do. He took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until after she gave birth to a son. And Joseph gave him the name Jesus.

Luke focuses on God's revelation to Mary, whereas Matthew focuses on the revelation to Joseph. We should also observe that the circumstances under which Joseph was planning to divorce Mary were hardly light. Jewish and Roman law both demanded that a man divorce his wife if she were guilty of adultery. To fail to do so would violate law and custom, would bring enduring reproach on his household and would constitute embracing as wife one who had betrayed him in the worst manner conceivable in his culture. Roman law actually treated a husband who failed to divorce an unfaithful wife as a panderer exploiting his wife as a prostitute! But Joseph values commitment to God above his own honor.

Michael Pacher (c. 1435—August 1498) was an Austrian Tyrolean painter and sculptor active during the last quarter of the 15th century. Pacher was one of the earliest artists to introduce the principles of Renaissance painting into Germany. He was a comprehensive artist with a broad range of skills: sculpting, painting, and architecture of complex wood and stone. He painted structures for altarpieces on a scale unparalleled in North European art. His influence is primarily North Italian, and his work shares characteristics with that of painters such as Andrea Mantegna; however, German influences are also evident in his work, especially in his wood sculpture. He was most active from 1462 until his death.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Joseph is Visited by an Angel

Title: Joseph is Visited by an Angel
Artist: Sadao Watanabe
Medium: Color stencil print
Size: 19.7 x 18.4 cm
Date: 1979
Location: Private collection.

Matthew 1:18-21: This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. His mother Mary and Joseph had promised to get married. But before they started to live together, it became clear that she was going to have a baby. She became pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph was a godly man. He did not want to put her to shame in public. So he planned to divorce her quietly. But as Joseph was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. The angel said, "Joseph, son of David, don't be afraid to take Mary home as your wife. The baby inside her is from the Holy Spirit. She is going to have a son. You must give him the name Jesus. That is because he will save his people from their sins."

The basic account of the virgin birth is from an earlier tradition than either of the Gospels that describe Jesus' infancy; neither Gospel is clearly dependent on the other. Members of Jesus' family remained in positions of prominence in early Christianity when this pre-Matthew tradition (shared with Luke) was circulating. But Matthew is less concerned to prove the virgin birth to his audience, which both accepted Jesus as Messiah and acknowledged the miraculous. Matthew is more interested in teaching, and an important lesson his narrative teaches is that Jesus' birth fulfills Scripture.

Sadao Watanabe (1913 – 1996), was born and grew up in Tokyo. He was a Japanese printmaker famous for his biblical prints rendered in the mingei (folk art) tradition of Japan. The artist specialized in depictions of scenes from the bible, shown in a naive-looking, sometimes humerous, Japanese-like style. As a youth Watanabe was influenced by a teacher to become a Christian and was baptized in 1930. When he became severely ill with tuberculosis, a disease that could easily kill in those days, Watanabe vowed to study the Bible and spread the Christian story through artwork if he should recover.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Naming of St John the Baptist

Title: The Naming of St John the Baptist
Artist: Fra Angelico
Medium: Tempera and gold on panel
Size: 26 x 24 cm
Date: 1434-35
Location: Museo di San Marco, Florence.

Luke 1:59-80: On the eighth day, they came to have the child circumcised. They were going to name him Zechariah, like his father. But his mother spoke up. "No!" she said. "He must be called John." They said to her, "No one among your relatives has that name." Then they motioned to his father. They wanted to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for something to write on. Then he wrote, "His name is John." Everyone was amazed. Right away Zechariah could speak again. His first words gave praise to God. The neighbors were all filled with fear and wonder. All through Judea's hill country, people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it. And because the Lord was with John, they asked, "What is this child going to be?" His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit. He prophesied... "And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High God. You will go ahead of the Lord to prepare the way for him... "

The choice of the surprising name indicates that a major lesson of obedience has been learned: when God names a child, that child is significant in his plan. The protest of the crowd shows that they are unaware of what God is doing. Surely the father of the house will not sanction this breaking of custom. So they motion to Zechariah to find out what the name of the child should be. By repeating the name his wife gave, Zechariah echoes the instructions of the angel, not the crowd and custom. He goes the way of God and amazes his neighbors. His obedience yields additional reward: his tongue is loosed immediately and judgment ends. Just as the angel promised in Luke 1:20, the temporary situation of silence ends with the fulfillment of God's word. The point of the linkage is not to be missed: believe and know that God fulfills his promises.

This painting is one of four panels in various collections which belonged originally to the predella of an unidentified altarpiece. The panels illustrate stories from the legends of the Virgin Mary, the apostle St James the Great, St John the Baptist, and Sts Francis and Dominic. The fifth panel of the predella is lost. The altarpiece would have shown the Virgin and Child and the same saints whose scenes are depicted in the predella. The predella panels show the influence of Masaccio's frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel, specific derivations from them can be detected in most scenes.

Fra Angelico (c. 1395 – February, 1455), was a Florentine painter as well as a Dominican friar, having entered a Dominican convent in Fiesole in 1418. He became known as Giovanni da Fiesole, as well as Fra Giovanni Angelico (Brother Giovanni the Angelic One). Although his teacher is unknown, he apparently began his career as an illuminator of missals and other religious books, and then began to paint altarpieces and other panels. In later life he traveled extensively for prestigious commissions.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

His Name is John

Title: His Name is John
Artist: Daniel Bonnell
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Size: 90 x 95 cm
Date: c. 2008
Location: Private collection

Luke 1:57-58: The time came for Elizabeth to have her baby. She gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very kind to her. They shared her joy.

Neighbors customarily joined in celebrations, and the birth of a son, especially under such unusual circumstances, was seen as special cause for celebration. Though these events are cosmic in their reach, they involve the divinity's personal touch. God has shown his mercy and magnified it to Elizabeth. Those who had shared her pain now rejoice with her. God's mercy expresses itself in concrete, loving action.

Daniel Bonnell (b. 1955) is an American painter and graduate of the Atlanta College of Art. He furthered his studies under the French Dominican Monk Pere Couturier, who usher such great painters as Henri Matisse and Fernand Leger into creating sacred art. His work can be found in several church and private collections, and in several notable publications. Most recently, a number of his paintings were selected to be in the Mosaic Holy Bible, as well in private collections and churches around the world. Further work can be viewed on his website at

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Title: Visitation
Artist: Jacopo Pontormo
Medium: Oil on wood
Size: 202 x 156 cm
Date: 1528-29
Location: San Michele, Carmignano, Florence.

Luke 1:39-45: At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in Judea's hill country. There she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby inside her jumped. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she called out, "God has blessed you more than other women. And blessed is the child you will have! But why is God so kind to me? Why has the mother of my Lord come to me? As soon as I heard the sound of your voice, the baby inside me jumped for joy. You are a woman God has blessed. You have believed that what the Lord has said to you will be done!"

In this passage we read of John's very early response; he is a forerunner even as he responds in Elizabeth's womb. This note of fulfillment of the angelic promise comes from one filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb. The fact that Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit as she reports the response indicates how Luke views her response: she expresses the mind of God. This sign sets the mood for the passage, that the basic response to the arrival of Jesus should be one of joy.

Pontormo’s lozenge-shaped arrangement of the four figures represented in the foreground of the painting was probably suggested to Pontormo by Dürer's engraving portraying the Four Witches (1497). Entirely original, on the other hand are the intertwining arcs of arms and fabric that firmly unites the two protagonists whose distinctly enlarged bodies dominate the painted surface. The monumental scene is depicted in a frozen fashion against the background of a roughly painted, funereally gloomy town. The profile portrayal of the two main figures embracing each other with extreme delicacy and exchanging looks of intense mutual affection is set against the rigidly frontal positions of the two bystanders in the background. Immobile, almost petrified, the latter keep their eyes fixed on something outside the scene, revealing their total lack of emotional participation in the event. The age difference between these two women and their facial resemblance with the protagonists invite an interpretation of the two maidservants as the doubles of Mary and Elisabeth. Their expressions convey a rather melancholic tone to the scene's general atmosphere of high spirituality.

Jacopo Carucci (May 1494 – January 1557), usually known as Jacopo da Pontormo, Jacopo Pontormo or simply Pontormo, was an Italian Mannerist painter and portraitist from the Florentine school. His work represents a profound stylistic shift from the calm perspectival regularity that characterized the art of the Florentine Renaissance. He is famous for his use of twining poses, coupled with ambiguous perspective; his figures often seem to float in an uncertain environment, unhampered by the forces of gravity. In some ways he anticipated the Baroque as well as the tensions of El Greco. His eccentricities also resulted in an original sense of composition.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Title: Annunciation
Artist: Francisco Goya
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 40.3 x 23.2 cm
Date: c. 1785
Location: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Luke 1:34-38: "How can this happen?" Mary asked the angel. "I am a virgin." The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come to you. The power of the Most High God will cover you. So the holy one that is born will be called the Son of God. Your relative Elizabeth is old. And even she is going to have a child. People thought she could not have children. But she has been pregnant for six months now. Nothing is impossible with God." Mary answered, "I serve the Lord. May it happen to me just as you said it would." Then the angel left her.

The portrait Luke paints of Mary is significant. She is a model believer, taking God at his word, in contrast to Zechariah. She is favored of God, thoughtful, obedient, believing, worshipful and a faithful follower of God's law. It must be emphasized, however, that despite all these qualities, God's choice of Mary to bear this child springs from his grace, not from any inherent merit that she possesses. She is the object of God's unmerited, graciously provided goodness. Her description as one who has found favor with God makes it clear that God has acted on her behalf and not because of her. In fact, Mary is totally perplexed by the sudden announcement. She did not ask for or seek this role in God's plans; God has simply stepped into her life and brought her into his service. Her asset is that she is faithful.

This painting, a sketch for a large altarpiece in a monastic chapel in Madrid, gives us a unique glimpse into Goya's creative process. The quick, fluid brushstrokes demonstrate the rapid technique used for a preliminary study. Many changes were made in the final version: the image of God the Father was omitted, and the positions of the Virgin and the angel Gabriel reversed. The fresh, spring-like colors are characteristic of Goya's early style; his later works are much more somber.

Francisco De Goya y Lucientes (March 1746 - April 1828), was a Spanish artist whose multifarious paintings, drawings, and engravings reflected contemporary historical upheavals and influenced important 19th and 20th century painters. Goya was a court painter whose best work was done apart from his official duties. He is known for his scenes of violence, especially those prompted by the French invasion of Spain. The series of etchings Los desastres de la guerra ("The Disasters of War", 1810-14) records the horrors of the Napoleonic invasion.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ancilla Domini

Title: Ancilla Domini
Artist: Rupert Bunny
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Size: 100.3 x 110.4 cm
Date: 1896
Location: Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.

Luke 1: 26-33: In the sixth month after Elizabeth had become pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee. He was sent to a virgin. The girl was engaged to a man named Joseph. He came from the family line of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel greeted her and said, "The Lord has given you special favor. He is with you." Mary was very upset because of his words. She wondered what kind of greeting this could be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary. God is very pleased with you. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son. You must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God. The Lord God will make him a king like his father David of long ago. He will rule forever over his people, who came from Jacob's family. His kingdom will never end."

This section of Luke’s Gospel focuses on the simple faith of a teenage girl, Mary. As a young girl, of perhaps twelve or fourteen years old, Mary would have has virtually no social status with which to expect such a laudatory greeting. Indeed, it is easy to understand why she would have been “troubled” by such words. There is a Pre-Raphaelite influence in this work that is evident in the way that the artist has used the bright, flat surface of the red drape to frame the action and turn the angel into a monumental silhouette; other Pre-Raphaelite touches include the black-and-white tiled floor and the compressed space of the room with its low platform or dais. The influence of Symbolism abounds as well: the angel is holding a stem of white lilies, the lily being a Christian symbol for the Virgin Mary; the rose held by Mary is particularly associated with the Virgin, who was known as 'the rose without thorns'; the book on the lectern near Mary's head refers to Mary being in the act of reading when the angel appeared, the passage in question being from the celebrated prophecy of Isaiah (7:14), 'A young woman is with child and she will bear a son'.

Rupert Bunny (September 1864 –May 1947) was one of the generation of Australian artists who went abroad in the later 19th century to extend their training and establish their reputations; Bunny travelled to Europe in 1884, and studied in Paris at the studio of Jean-Paul Laurens (1838-1921), a French artist who specialized in historical and religious subjects; in 1888, Bunny exhibited with the Société des Artistes Français and in 1890 he became the first Australian to gain a 'mention honorable'; he painted many subjects during his long career, including portraits, landscapes, and mythological and religious themes, but is best known for his paintings of women, either languidly reclining single figures or a group in intimate conversation, evoking a luxurious and leisurely world.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Annunciation to Zechariah

Title: Annunciation to Zechariah
Artist: Domenico Ghirlandaio
Medium: Fresco
Size: tbd
Date: 1490
Location: Tornabuoni Chapel, Santa Maria Novella, Florence.

Luke 1:5-25: Herod was king of Judea. During the time he was ruling, there was a priest named Zechariah. He belonged to a group of priests named after Abijah. His wife Elizabeth also came from the family line of Aaron. Both of them did what was right in God's eyes. They obeyed all the Lord's commandments and rules faithfully. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was not able to have any. And they were both very old. One day Zechariah's group was on duty. He was serving as a priest in God's temple. He happened to be chosen, in the usual way, to go into the temple of the Lord. There he was supposed to burn incense. The time came for this to be done. All who had gathered to worship were praying outside. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah. The angel was standing at the right side of the incense altar. When Zechariah saw him, he was amazed and terrified. But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah. Your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will have a child. It will be a boy, and you must name him John. He will be a joy and delight to you. His birth will make many people very glad. He will be important in the Lord's eyes. He must never use wine or other such drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit from the time he is born. He will bring many of Israel's people back to the Lord their God. And he will prepare the way for the Lord. He will have the same spirit and power that Elijah had. He will teach parents how to love their children. He will also teach people who don't obey to be wise and do what is right. In this way, he will prepare a people who are ready for the Lord." Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man, and my wife is old too." The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I serve God. I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will have to be silent. You will not be able to speak until after John is born. That's because you did not believe my words. They will come true when the time is right." During that time, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out. They wondered why he stayed in the temple so long. When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple. They knew this because he kept motioning to them. He still could not speak. When his time of service was over, he returned home. After that, his wife Elizabeth became pregnant. She stayed at home for five months. "The Lord has done this for me," she said. "In these days, he has been kind to me. He has taken away my shame among the people."

The Biblical episode of the apparition of the Angel to Zechariah is portrayed within magnificent Renaissance church architecture. Zechariah is portrayed on the altar in the centre, with the Angel Gabriel suddenly appearing on his left to announce to him that he will have a son. The scene is crowded with six groups of characters on six different levels. Aside from the group of six maidens on the right, the others are all portraits of contemporary Florentine notables. On the lower left are the Renaissance humanists, including Cristoforo Landino (the one with a black collar) and Agnolo Poliziano (the second from right). The figures standing on the right are relatives of the patron; behind them is a self-portrait of Ghirlandaio (the second from right, next to a youngster with long hair, probably his son or brother, who is also present in the Expulsion of Joachim).

Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449 – January 1494) was an Italian Renaissance painter from Florence. Among his many apprentices was the renowned Michelangelo. Ghirlandaio's compositional schema were simultaneously grand and decorous, in keeping with 15th century's restrained and classicizing experimentation. His chiaroscuro, in the sense of realistic shading and three-dimensionalism, was reasonably advanced, as were his perspectives, which he designed on a very elaborate scale by eye alone, without the use of sophisticated mathematics.