Friday, June 12, 2015

RELIGIOUS ART BY THE OLD MASTER PAINTERS - Paintings from the Bible Explained! The Good Samaritan

Attributed to Mario Balassi (Florence 1604-1667)
The Good Samaritan 
oil on canvas
48.2 x 85cm (19 x 33 7/16in).

The parable of the Good Samaritan was told by Jesus, and is mentioned in the Gospel of Luke (10:29–37) a traveller is stripped of clothing, beaten, and left half dead along the road. First a priest and then a Levite come by, but both avoid the man. Finally, a Samaritan comes by. Samaritans and Jews generally despised each other, but the Samaritan helps the injured man. Jesus is described as telling the parable in response to a question regarding the identity of the "neighbour", whom Leviticus 19:18 says should be loved.

Portraying a Samaritan in a positive light would have come as a shock to Jesus's audience. It is typical of his provocative speech in which conventional expectations are inverted.

Mario Balassi (1604–1667) was an Italian painter of the Baroque period, active in Florence and Rome. He accompanied Ottavio Piccolomini to Rome to work under the papacy of Pope Urban VIII,  and also accompanied him to Vienna, where he painted a portrait of the Emperor Ferdinand III. He was commissioned by Taddeo Barberini to paint a Transfiguration, now found in the church of the Cappuccini of Rome. For the church of Sant' Agostino, in Prato, he painted a picture of St. Nicholas of Tolentino, and for the Society of the Stigmata in Florence, a St. Francis. In the Vienna Gallery there is a Madonna and Child painted on stone. Among his pupils was Andrea Scacciati.