Tuesday, October 18, 2016

15 Paintings, scenes from the Bible, by The Old Masters, with footnotes # 28

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, (1571 - 1610)
The Inspiration of Saint Matthew
Oil on canvas, 1602
292 cm × 186 cm (115 in × 73 in)
San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome, Italy

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (29 September 1571 in Caravaggio – 18 July 1610) was an Italian painter active in Rome, Naples, Malta, and Sicily between 1592 and 1610. His paintings, which combine a realistic observation of the human state, both physical and emotional, with a dramatic use of lighting, had a formative influence on Baroque painting.
Caravaggio trained as a painter in Milan under Simone Peterzano who had himself trained under Titian. In his twenties Caravaggio moved to Rome where there was a demand for paintings to fill the many huge new churches and palazzos being built at the time. It was also a period when the Church was searching for a stylistic alternative to Mannerism in religious art that was tasked to counter the threat of Protestantism. Caravaggio's innovation was a radical naturalism that combined close physical observation with a dramatic, even theatrical, use of chiaroscuro which came to be known as tenebrism (the shift from light to dark with little intermediate value).

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, (1571 - 1610)
The Inspiration of Saint Matthew
Detail

He gained attention in the art scene of Rome in 1600 with the success of his first public commissions, the Martyrdom of Saint Matthew and Calling of Saint Matthew. Thereafter he never lacked commissions or patrons, yet he handled his success poorly. He was jailed on several occasions, vandalized his own apartment, and ultimately had a death sentence pronounced against him by the Pope after killing a young man, possibly unintentionally, on May 29, 1606. He fled from Rome with a price on his head. He was involved in a brawl in Malta in 1608, and another in Naples in 1609, possibly a deliberate attempt on his life by unidentified enemies. This encounter left him severely injured. A year later, at the age of 38, he died under mysterious circumstances in Porto Ercole in Tuscany, reportedly from a fever while on his way to Rome to receive a pardon.
Famous while he lived, Caravaggio was forgotten almost immediately after his death, and it was only in the 20th century that his importance to the development of Western art was rediscovered. More

Rogier van der Weyden, (1399/1400–1464)
The Descent from the Cross, c. between 1435 and 1438
Oil on panel
Height: 220 cm (86.6 in). Width: 262 cm (103.1 in).
Prado Museum

The painting was part of a triptych whose shutters are been lost.


The Descent from the Cross, or Deposition of Christ, is the scene, as depicted in art, from the Gospels' accounts of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus taking Christ down from the cross after his crucifixion. In Byzantine art the topic became popular in the 9th century, and in the West from the 10th century. The Descent from the Cross is the 13th Station of the Cross.

Other figures not mentioned in the Gospels who are often included in depictions of this subject include St. John the Evangelist, who is sometimes depicted supporting a fainting Mary (as in the work above), and Mary Magdalene. The Gospels mention an undefined number of women as watching the crucifixion, including the Three Marys and Mary Salome.. More

Rogier van der Weyden (1399 or 1400 – 18 June 1464) was an Early Netherlandish painter. His surviving works consist mainly of religious triptychs, altarpieces and commissioned single and diptych portraits. He was highly successful and internationally famous in his lifetime; his paintings were exported – or taken – to Italy and Spain, and he received commissions from Netherlandish nobility and foreign princes. By the latter half of the 15th century, he had eclipsed Jan van Eyck in popularity. However his fame lasted only until the 17th century, and largely due to changing taste, he was almost totally forgotten by the mid-18th century. His reputation was slowly rebuilt during the following 200 years; today he is known, with Robert Campin and van Eyck, as the third of the three great Early Flemish artists, and as the most influential Northern painter of the 15th century. Karel van Mander wrote that the great artistic contribution of Rogier van der Weyden lies in his ideas, his composition and rendering of the soul's expression through pain, happiness or anger, and the tempering of this emotional testimony to the subject matter of his work.

Van der Weyden worked from life models, and his observations were acute, yet he often idealised certain elements of his models' facial features, and they are typically statuesque, especially in his triptychs. All of his forms are rendered with rich, warm colourisation and a sympathetic expression, while he is known for his expressive pathos and naturalism. His portraits tend to be half length and half profile. Van der Weyden used an unusually broad range of colours and varied tones; in his finest work the same tone is not repeated in any other area of the canvas; even the whites are varied. More

Peter Paul Rubens, (1577–1640)
The Descent from the Cross, c. between 1616 and 1617
Oil on canvas
Height: 425 cm (167.3 in). Width: 295 cm (116.1 in).
Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille, France

The Descent from the Cross, see above

This Descent from the Cross is the central panel of a triptych painting by Peter Paul Rubens in 1612–1614. The painting is the second of Rubens's great altarpieces for the Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp, Belgium, along with The Elevation of the Cross. The subject was one Rubens returned to again and again in his career. This particular work was commissioned on September 7, 1611, by the Confraternity of the Arquebusiers, whose Patron Saint was St. Christopher.

Peter Paul Rubens, (1577–1640)
The Descent from the Cross, c. between 1616 and 1617
Center Panel

The painting is composed of nine figures: at the top of two ladders, workers are lowering the body of Christ with the aid of a shroud. Bracing themselves firmly against the cross, to guide the Christ with the hand that is left free, while St. John, with one foot on the ladder supports him most energetically. One of Savior’s arms comes to rest on the beautiful shoulder of the Magdalene. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, placed midway on ladders so as to face each other, form, together with the two workmen in the upper part of the picture, a square of plebeian figures.

Peter Paul Rubens, (1577–1640)
The Descent from the Cross, c. between 1616 and 1617
Detail

The Virgin, standing at the foot of the sacrificial tree, extends her arms towards her Son; Salome (properly, Mary Cleophas), kneeling, gathers up her robe. On the ground are seen the superscription and a copper basin where the crown of thorns and the nails of the Crucifixion lie in the congealed blood. After the sacrifice of Calvary, as it is called in Scripture, the dark sky is crossed by a light that illumines the shoulders of the workmen. More

Peter Paul Rubens, (1577–1640)
The Descent from the Cross, c. between 1616 and 1617
Detail

Peter Paul Rubens, (1577–1640)
The Descent from the Cross, c. between 1616 and 1617
Right Panel, the Visitation

The Visitation is the visit of Mary with Elizabeth, they are both pregnant. Mary is pregnant with Jesus and Elizabeth is pregnant with John the Baptist. 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

Peter Paul Rubens, (1577–1640)
The Descent from the Cross, c. between 1616 and 1617
Right Panel, the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple.

The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. According to the gospel, Mary and Joseph took the Infant Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem forty days (inclusive) after his birth to complete Mary's ritual purification after childbirth, and to perform the redemption of the firstborn son, in obedience to the Torah. More

Sir Peter Paul Rubens (28 June 1577 – 30 May 1640) was a Flemish Baroque painter. A proponent of an extravagant Baroque style that emphasized movement, colour, and sensuality, Rubens is well known for his Counter-Reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects.
In addition to running a large studio in Antwerp that produced paintings popular with nobility and art collectors throughout Europe, Rubens was a classically educated humanist scholar and diplomat who was knighted by both Philip IV of Spain and Charles I of England. More

SCHOOL OF XVII CENTURY Genoese 
DREAM OF JACOB 
Oil on Canvas 
170 X 121,5cm - 66 7/8 x 47 13/16 IN. 
Private Collection

Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran.  When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:10-22

Genoese School. In the 17th century Genoa had an original school of painting, which was to develop Flemish contacts (visits by Rubens and van Dyck). The best painter was Bernardo Strozzi, called il Cappuccino, of great importance also for Venice. Giovanni Castiglione, called Il Grecchetto, took up a genre already made famous by Sinibaldo Scorza with paintings of animals and still-lifes under Flemish and Venetian influence. Domenico Fiasella and Gioacchino Assereto joined the Caravaggesque followers, while Valerio Castello, the best of a whole family of painters, was more eclectic. The decorators Domenico Piola and Gregorio de Ferrari worked in the churches and palaces of Genoa.

In the first half of the 18th century Alessandro Magnasco dominated painting with his strange personality, his nervous technique and his exaggerated chiaroscuro; his expressionistic distortions created a fantastic world reminiscent of Salvator Rosa, Marco Ricci and Francesco Guardi. More

Max Ernst
The Blessed Virgin Chastising the Infant Jesus before Three Witnesses: André Breton, Paul Éluard and the Artist, 1926
Oil on canvas
196 cm x 130 cm
Museum Ludwig, Cologne

Here, portrayed as an earthy, frustrated woman, the Virgin Mary sharply paddles her young son - the unruly baby Jesus - on his bottom which displays red marks already left by her punishing hand. Watching through the background window and serving as witnesses are Andre Breton, Paul Eluard, and the painter himself; all three seem untroubled by the scene. Ernst successfully upends both his own Catholic faith with its devotion to Christ's mother Mary, while simultaneously debasing much of Western art history with its proliferation of loving scenes between the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Christ child, and also, undercutting the secular, bourgeois sanctity of motherhood. Ernst's painting is simultaneously blasphemous and sharply humorous. As expected, not everyone saw humor in the theme and the work created considerable controversy as an attack on Christianity and contemporary values. More

Max Ernst (2 April 1891 – 1 April 1976) was a German painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and poet. Ernst was a provocateur, a shocking and innovative artist who mined his unconscious for dreamlike imagery that mocked social conventions. A soldier in World War I, Ernst emerged deeply traumatized and highly critical of western culture. These charged sentiments directly fed into his vision of the modern world as irrational, an idea that becamethe basis of his artwork. Ernst's artistic vision, along with his humor and verve come through strongly in his Dada and Surrealists works; Ernst was a pioneer of both movements. Spending the majority of his life in France, during WWII Ernst was categorized as an "enemy alien"; the United States government affixed the same label when Ernst arrived as a refugee. In later life, in addition to his prolific outpouring of paintings, sculpture, and works-on-paper, Ernst devoted much of his time to playing and studying chess which he revered as an art form. His work with the unconscious, his social commentary, and broad experimentation in both subject and technique remain influential. More

Caravaggio (1571–1610)
The Seven Works of Mercy, c. 1607
Oil on canvas
390 × 260 cm
Pio Monte della Misericordia, Naples

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Matthew 25:35-36  Book of Tobias.

The Seven Works of Mercy, also known as The Seven Acts of Mercy, is an oil painting by Italian painter Caravaggio, circa 1607. The painting depicts the seven corporal works of mercy in traditional Catholic belief, which are a set of compassionate acts concerning the material welfare of others.

A fascinating masterpiece; the bodies and acts meet without apparent order in a fluid. Caravaggio painted it in 1606 for the "Pio Monte della Misericordia" in Naples, where it still hangs today. The "Pious Mountain of Mercy" was a charitable institution that was founded in the early 17th century by young nobleman to address the rampant poverty in Naples

The titular seven works/acts of mercy are represented in the painting as follows:

Bury the dead. In the background, two men carry a dead man (of whom only the feet are visible).

Caravaggio (1571–1610)
The Seven Works of Mercy, c. 1607
Detail, Bury the dead

Visit the imprisoned, and feed the hungry. On the right, a woman visits an imprisoned man and gives him milk from her breast. This image alludes to the classical story of Roman Charity.

Caravaggio (1571–1610)
The Seven Works of Mercy, c. 1607
Detail, Visit the imprisoned, and feed the hungry

Shelter the homeless. A pilgrim (third from left, as identified by the shell in his hat) asks an innkeeper (at far left) for shelter.

Caravaggio (1571–1610)
The Seven Works of Mercy, c. 1607
Detail, Shelter the homeless. 

Clothe the naked. St. Martin of Tours, fourth from the left, has torn his robe in half and given it to the naked beggar in the foreground, recalling the saint's popular legend. Visit the sick. St. Martin also greets and comforts the beggar who is a cripple.

Caravaggio (1571–1610)
The Seven Works of Mercy, c. 1607
Detail, Clothe the naked and  Visit the sick

Refresh the thirsty. Samson (second from the left) drinks water from the jawbone of an ass. 

Caravaggio (1571–1610)
The Seven Works of Mercy, c. 1607
Detail, Refresh the thirsty

When Samson was in danger of dying of thirst, God gave him water to drink from the jawbone of an ass. It is difficult to square this miracle with an allegory of the Seven Acts of Mercy since it was not in fact the work of human charity. More

Caravaggio (1571–1610)
The Seven Works of Mercy, c. 1607
Detail

The Virgin and the Child Jesus, who participate from the upper part of the works of mercy. From the darkness below them rush out two angels. With wide sweeping gestures they seem to pass the information of Maria and her son to the people. More

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (29 September 1571 in Caravaggio – 18 July 1610), see above

Muhammad Zaman, Persian
The Return from the Flight into Egypt, c. 1689
Paintings with Calligraphy
Harvard Art Museums

This painting is based on an engraving made by the Flemish artist Vosterman, after Rubens' work 'The Return from the Flight into Egypt'. It shows Mary, Joseph, and child Jesus returning to their homeland after their flight to Egypt. Two lines of Persian inscriptions written in nastaliq script can be seen on the top and bottom of the page. The inscription indicates that Muhammad Zaman finished it in August-September of 1689 in the capital city of Isfahan and it is dedicated to Isa (Jesus). Jesus is considered a great prophet in Islam and it is likely that the painting was made for a Christian patron, perhaps an Armenian in Julfa. The painting is done on paper and displays Muhammad Zaman's attempts at creating modeling, three-dimensionality, and perspective. The artist is known to have worked from European prints available in Iran at that time. More

Muhammad Paolo Zaman Kirmani known as Muhammad Zaman (fl. 1680 – c. 1700), a famous Safavid calligrapher and painter. He was a native of Kirman, Persia. He received his education in Tabriz. He was sent to Rome under the reign of Shah Abbas II. He returned to Persia as a Catholic Christian with the name Paolo. Because of his conversion to Roman Catholicism he was obliged to escape from Persia to India where he obtained the protection of the Moghul dynasty.

Muhammad Zaman was influenced by Italian painting techniques. However, Muhammad Zaman studied under a European artist in Isfahan, Persia, and the report of his being sent by Shah Abbas II to study in Italy, where he adopted Roman Catholic Christianity, is no more than a colourful legend.

It is reported that Manucci, the famous traveller. made the acquaintance of Muhammad Zaman at the court of Aurangzib. More


FLEMISH school of the seventeenth century follower of Peter Paul Rubens 
Return of the flight into Egypt 
Oi; Copper 
29 x 25.5 cm - 11 7/16 x 10 1/16 IN. 
Private Collection

This painting shows Mary, Joseph, and child Jesus returning to their homeland after their flight to Egypt. 

Sir Peter Paul Rubens (28 June 1577 – 30 May 1640) was a Flemish Baroque painter. A proponent of an extravagant Baroque style that emphasized movement, colour, and sensuality, Rubens is well known for his Counter-Reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects.
In addition to running a large studio in Antwerp that produced paintings popular with nobility and art collectors throughout Europe, Rubens was a classically educated humanist scholar and diplomat who was knighted by both Philip IV of Spain and Charles I of England. More

DUTCH School circa 1630, circle of Cornelis Poelenburgh 
Assumption of the Virgin 
Oil on Copper 
23.5 x 18cm - 9 1/4 x 7 1/16 IN
Private Collection

The Assumption of Mary into Heaven. When Jesus died on the cross, he gave his mother to his apostle John. That means that he wanted Mary to treat John as her son, and John to treat Mary as his mother and take care of her. Mary moved into John's home, where he said Mass each day. So Mary was close to her Son in the Blessed Sacrament, even though He had ascended into Heaven. 

Mary's love for God and Jesus grew even stronger than it had been when Jesus had been present on earth. She grew more holy every day. People came to visit her, she was kind and patient with everyone. Saint Luke (who wrote the Gospel of Saint Luke) painted a picture of her during this time. The portrait of 'Our Lady of Perpetual Help" which was painted centuries later, used Saint Luke's portrait as a model of what Mary looked like. 

Finally when she was very old, it was time for Mary to die. She had enough time to say goodbye to all the apostles before she died. The grieving apostles took her body to a tomb near the one that Jesus was laid in. They covered her with a white shroud and laid her to rest in the tomb. 

But Mary's body didn't stay there. Jesus came to her and took her body and soul into heaven to be with Him. Mary was the Immaculate Conception - the only person except Jesus who had been born without the stain of Original Sin,the disobedience of Adam and Eve. God and Jesus would not let the body of the Mother of God decay. This was her reward for her love of God and her years of faithful prayers and suffering. More

Prague's School of the seventeenth century follower of Joachim Antonisz Wtewael 
Judgement of Solomon 
Oil and Canvas 
80 x 109cm - 31 1/2 x 42 15/16 IN
Private Collection

The Judgment of Solomon refers to a story from the Hebrew Bible in which King Solomon of Israel ruled between two women both claiming to be the mother of a child by tricking the parties into revealing their true feelings. It has become an archetypal example of argument to moderation and that of an impartial judge displaying wisdom in making a ruling.

The decision in the story omits any effort to identify the father, and labels both women as prostitutes. More

Joachim Anthoniszoon Wtewael (1566 – 1 August 1638) was a Dutch Mannerist painter and draughtsman, as well as a highly successful flax merchant, and town councillor of Utrecht. Wtewael was one of the leading Dutch exponents of Northern Mannerism, and his distinctive and attractive style remained largely untouched by the naturalistic developments happening around him. Wtewael was trained in the style of late 16th-century Haarlem Mannerism and remained essentially faithful to it, despite painting well into the early period of Dutch Golden Age.

He painted a mixture of large paintings on canvas, and tiny cabinet paintings on copper plates, the latter the more numerous and typically the most distinctive. There is also a group of mid-sized paintings, often on panel. In all these sizes he painted a mixture of conventional religious subjects and mythological ones, the latter with a strong erotic element. The Adoration of the Shepherds, Venus and Mars Surprised by Vulcan, and the Feast of the Gods as the wedding feasts of Cupid and Psyche, Peleus and Thetis, the latter often combined with the Judgement of Paris, and Lot and His Daughters, are some examples of these favourite subjects.

Emperor Rudolf II obtained his The Golden Age (now Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). He had several children, and seems to have stopped painting for almost the last decade of his life, perhaps influenced by the illness and death of his wife. Like his brother he was a city councillor; as a member of the main Dutch Reformed Church he was involved in the struggles with the Remonstrants. His best known work, and almost his largest, is the near life-size Perseus and Andromeda in the Louvre. More

Joachim Wtewael (1566–1638)
The Raising of Lazarus, c. 1605-10,
Oil on canvas,
131 x 162 cm
National Gallery

The Raising of Lazarus or the Resurrection of Lazarus, mentioned only in the Gospel of John, is a miracle of Jesus in which Jesus brings Lazarus of Bethany back to life four days after his burial. According to American theologian J P Dabney, "the usual reason assigned for the omission of so remarkable a story, as that of the resurrection of Lazarus by the other three Evangelists, is that he might still be living, when they wrote, and that a circumstantial account of this event, would have exposed him to the resentment of the unbelieving Jews, but John's Gospel was later by many years: in which long interval Lazarus' death was not unlikely to have occurred" More

Duccio (1260–1318)
The Raising of Lazarus,  circa 1310 and circa 1311
Tempera and gold on panel
Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, USA

The Raising of Lazarus, see above
Duccio di Buoninsegna (c. 1255–1260 – c. 1318–1319) was an Italian painter, active in the city of Siena in Tuscany, where he was born, in the late 13th and early 14th centuries.
He is considered to be the father of Sienese painting and along with a few others the founder of Western art. He was hired throughout his life to complete many important works in government and religious buildings around Italy. Duccio is credited with creating the painting style of Trecento and the Sienese school, and contributed significantly to the Sienese Gothic style. More

John La Farge, 1878-1879
The Three Wise Men aka Halt of the Wise Men
Oil on canvas
Height: 83.19 cm (32.75 in.), Width: 106.68 cm (42 in.) 
Museum of Fine Arts, United States

John La Farge (March 31, 1835 – November 14, 1910) was an American painter, muralist, stained glass window maker, decorator, and writer. La Farge was born in New York City to wealthy French parents. His interest in art began during his studies at Mount St. Mary's University in Maryland and St. John's College in New York. He initially intended to study law, but this changed after his first visit to Paris, France in 1856. Stimulated by the arts in the city, he studied with Thomas Couture and became acquainted with notable literary people.

La Farge's earliest drawings and landscapes, from his studies in Newport, show marked originality, especially in the handling of color values. Many of La Farge's mythological and religious paintings, including Virgil, were executed in an area of Rhode Island known as "Paradise," in a forest which La Farge called "The Sacred Grove" after Virgil.

La Farge made extensive travels in Asia and the South Pacific, which inspired his painting. He visited Japan in 1886, and the South Seas in 1890 and 1891, in particular spending time and absorbing the culture of Tahiti. Henry Adams accompanied him on these trips as a travel companion. He visited Hawaii in September 1890, where he painted scenic spots on Oahu and traveled to the Island of Hawaii to paint an active volcano.

In 1892, La Farge was brought on as an instructor with the Metropolitan Museum of Art Schools to provide vocational training to students in New York City.[ He served as President of the National Society of Mural Painters from 1899 to 1904.

He learned several languages, and was erudite in literature and art; by his cultured personality and reflective conversation, he influenced many other people. Though naturally a questioner, he venerated the traditions of religious art, and preserved his Catholic faith.


La Farge died at Butler Hospital, in Providence, Rhode Island in 1910. More


Images are copyright of their respective owners, assignees or others