Christ of The Minerva – Juliana Harn

21 Apr



Artist: Michelangelo Buonarroti

Medium: Sculpture made of marble

Date: 1519-1521 A.D.

Location: Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Church in Rome

Dimensions: 80.75 inches high (approximate)

In June of 1514, Roman patrician Metello Vari commissioned Michelangelo to sculpt a “figura di marmo d’un Cristo grande quanto el naturale, ignudo, ritto, cor una croce in braccio, in quell’ attitudine cheparra al detto Michelagnolo’.” In other words, stating that he would make a sculpture of a standing, naked figure of Christ holding a cross. The sculpture was designed for a chapel in the Dominican church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome, and Michelangelo’s contract stated that it had to be finished and delivered within four years. Christ of the Minerva, or the “Risen Christ” had no title during Michelangelo’s lifetime, and since has been referred to as both of the aforementioned titeles.

While Michelangelo was working in Rome on the block of marble he had chosen, a large black vein (an imperfection) emerged in the marble, directly where he was sculpting Christ’s face. So Michelangelo, scrapped that roughed-out figure, and was left in its incomplete state in his Roman workshop when he returned to Florence in 1516. Instead of starting the project again, right away, he stopped work on the “Risen Christ”, and instead continued work on another project of his, the San Lorenzo facade. However, records show that Michelangelo felt grief and guilt because this project of the “Risen Christ” was delayed. So Michelangelo ordered a new marble block from Pisa, which arrived on the first boat, and the Christ that he sculpted out of that is the one we see today in the church of the Minerva. This second version, Michelangelo carved from Florence in 1519-20.

When the Christ of the Minerva was finally finished in March 1521 A.D., it was transported to Rome and was installed at the left pillar of the choir in the church it had been commissioned for, by Michelangelo’s assistant Pietro Urbano. Experts have noted that the work reveals certain “weaknesses of execution,” which is due partly to the clumsy intervention of this assistant Pietro Urbano, to whom Michelangelo assigned the weighty task of taking the sculpture to Rome and finishing it there. Urbano did a finish to the feet, hands, nostrils, and beard of Christ, that many friends of Michelangelo described as disastrous. Thankfully, some final amending and rectifying touches were added by Federico Frizzi soon after. However, later in history, nail-holes were pierced in Christ’s hands, and Christ’s genitalia were hidden behind a bronze loincloth, by the church, who deemed it too provocative. Because there have been many changes to Michelangelo’s sculpture over the last few centuries, many are disappointed to see that differs from that which Michelangelo originally created.

Michelangelo intended to convey ideas and symbols through this sculpture. The most noted symbol the promise of “physical resurrection in a perfected body”, since Michelangelo originally sculpted the figure of Christ without any injuries or nail holes, showing the perfection of the resurrected Christ.

As always, what makes this sculpture stand out among the others is Michelangelo’s brilliance and talent. With Christ of the Minerva, it is especially seen with his use of contraposto, and his attention to detail regarding Christ’s physique. If one looks closely at the sculpture, the elaborate, detailed chest and upper abdomen muscles that Michelangelo was so famous for are clearly visible. These detailed and unique sculptural characteristics distinguish Michelangelo as an artistic genius, and distinguish his masterpieces from art created by his contemporaries and other talented artists.


Flagellazione e di Cristo – Juliana Harn

21 Apr

Juliana 3


Artist: Tiziano Vecellio (Also known as Titan)

Medium: Oil on Canvas

Date: c. 1510

Location: Borghese Gallery

This painting is unlike anything

I have ever seen.

Hanging in a corner,

It begs for no attention.

It is quiet

And dark

And easily passed by.

This painting is not big

Nor particularly noticeable

It has no bright colors

Nothing to make it especially stand out

In this small room, in a small gallery.

Until you stop.

Until you stop right in front of it.

Until Jesus’ face catches you off guard.

Until you realize that he his in the midst of the flogging.

In the middle of being tortured

Not far from death.

Until you see that he is looking up at his attackers.

Looking straight up at those who are hurting him,

Those who are torturing him,

Those who are flogging him, inches from death.

Until you see that he is looking at them with love in his eyes






He sees the depths of their hearts,

He feels their pain of their sin,

Just as he feels his own.

He sees the worst things they have done,

And he still loves them.

He feels the whips on his back,

And he still looks at them with love.

He still loves them.

I am stopped by this quiet, dark painting.

Pictures can never do a painting justice, but

I felt his love. As I stood there,

500 years after these oils were put on this canvas,

I stood there and I thought,

“If Jesus loved those who were killing him,

If he loved those who were hurting him,

Can I not love those who hurt me?

Who scoff at me, who leave me feeling




Unworthy of attention?

If he loved those who hurt him,

Can I love those who hurt me?”

And the answer to that question

Is always yes.

This small painting

In a corner of a back room

In a small gallery

Made me stop.

Made me think.

Made me feel.

And isn’t that what art is supposed to do?

Adoration of The Shepherds – Meg Spierto

21 Apr




Artist: Guido Reni
Medium: Oil
Date: around 1640
Location: National Gallery, London
Dimensions: 16 by 9 feet

Guido Reni was a very famous artist of his time. The Adoration of the Shepherds is one of two of his largest paintings, being around 16 feet tall and 9 feet wide, almost consuming an entire wall of the National Gallery in London, England.

Reni was an Italian artist, born in Bologna, Italy. He was born November 4th 1575 and died at age 66 on August 18th, 1642. In his middle-adulthood, Reni moved to Rome for 9 years to study art. It was there that he was said to have had some quarrels with Caravaggio. After his 9 years in Rome, Reni moved back home to Bologna until his death. His painting career finished strongly in Bologna, although most of his most famous works were painted in Rome.

In Reni’s earlier years, he was commissioned by Pope Paul V and Scipione Cardinal Borghese for his impeccable artistry. At age 10, he began training with Denis Calvaert. Reni took a lot of his inspiration from the Frescoes of Raphael and ancient Greek sculptures.

Denis Calvaert, Reni’s mentor, was a famous Flemish painter. Calvaert was also an Italian painter who lived in Bologna for most of his life. A lot of his famous works reside in Bologna and St. Petersburg. While he was a student, he assisted in painting some frescoes in the Vatican. He was very well respected in his home town and by his colleagues, having many other young apprentices apart from Reni. His masterpiece is called “St. Michael” which sits in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Reni was famous for his Baroque style. He was said to have been a model for Baroque artists everywhere. His style particularly showed the complexity and the energy behind the Baroque. He liked to portray harmony which is seen in this painting, where all seems to be right with the world as Jesus lay peaceful in his bed and the angels and shepherds adore him. He also liked to gracefully pose his figures which he does a wonderful job of in this painting. Reni characterizes the Baroque period with this dynamic piece that is meant to bring out deep emotions. In some of his later paintings he began using lighter tones and softer colors. The Adoration of The Shepherds is a great example of his use of softer colors as we can feel the gentleness in the light surrounding baby Jesus and the angels. In this particular work, Reni “has taken a higher viewpoint, in which angels, similar to those in the Poussin, balance the composition. Ingeniously, they also reflect back the light coming from the newborn Christ” ( This is a great representation of the Baroque period because it was focused on aspects such as harmony and strong lighting.

Pieta – Meg Spierto

21 Apr



Artist: Michelangelo
Medium: marble
Date: around 1498
Location: St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome
Dimensions: 5 ft x 8.5 ft

Michelangelo’s Pieta is a work of pure genius. It is undoubtedly the most famous Pieta ever depicted. It stands at 5 feet tall and 8.5 feet wide. Michelangelo’s main purpose of this sculpture was to show Jesus in a state of full humanity. This was because humans have a better understanding of His suffering when He is thought of as a man, instead of God. This image is not found in the bible, but it was a very common image of the day. Michelangelo was only around 24 years old when he sculpted this. The way that Mary’s hand is held out upwards towards the sky is a way of showing her son’s sacrifice for mankind.

Michelangelo studied very carefully human anatomy. The anatomy in this sculpture is actually anatomically impossible. He shows his mastery by making the sculpture look completely normal, when in reality the proportions aren’t scientific at all. In this sculpture, Mary is actually much bigger than Jesus. The magnificent drapery of Mary’s dress was put in place to hide the large size of her body in comparison to Jesus’. This was done partly because of the difficultly of having a woman holding the body of a grown man and still making it look natural. Michelangelo does a really great job of making this sculpture look completely natural, even though it is not.

Although this sculpture is about the suffering of Jesus, Mary is arguable the central figure. In other Pietas, she is older and displays agony. In Michelangelo’s work, Mary is young and has a solemn look on her face. She looks gentle and quiet. She knew that Jesus had to die for the world to be saved, so she seems at peace. Michelangelo meant to sculpt Jesus as asleep, not dead, for He would rise again (or awaken) in 3 days.

There are different explanations as to why Mary is such a young woman in this work of art. The first, simplest explanation is that Michelangelo viewed Mary as a very youthful, incorruptible figure. Her youth and beauty would have been seen as a gift from God for her faithfulness and her purity. The second, much more complicated explanation for why Mary was portrayed as such a young woman was because of Michelangelo’s understanding of the Trinity. There is a line in Dante’s divine comedy that calls Mary the virgin mother and the daughter of your son. Michelangelo took this line and applied it to the trinity, saying that Mary was not only the mother of Jesus, but Jesus, being God, was the Father of Mary. Mary’s youthfulness in this sculpture would then be seen as a sign of her daughterhood, with Jesus as her father. The final explanation is that the two figures represent two different points in time. Mary holding Jesus is representing Jesus’ birth. She is young because she is holding her child, the baby Jesus. Jesus is shown as a grown man as His mother holds Him. This would be to foreshadow what was to become of baby Jesus. In this explanation, Mary is looking into the future and what it holds for her son.

There is great meaning behind this piece of art, which is one of the reasons it is so famous. Michelangelo’s craftsmanship and intelligence remain unmatched. This remains one of his greatest works and certainly one of the most famous works, if not the most famous, in Rome.

Wilkin, D., Schultz, B., & Linduff K. (2001). Art Part, Art Present. Fourth Edition. Page 227.

The Raising of Lazarus – Justin Fink

20 Apr



Artist: Sebastiano del Piombo

Medium: oil on canvas

Date: Began in 1517, Ended in 1519

Location: The National Gallery: London, England

Dimensions: 381 x 289.6 cm

Just like many of the other artists displayed throughout this site, Sebastiano del Piombo was not the true name of the artist.  His given name was Sebastiano Luciani. He was born during the year 1485, but a specific date is not give, like a large amount of people during this time.  He was originally from Venice and known as a Venetian painter, however most of his art was created during his time in Rome.

Piombo was involved with many famous artists. He first trained with Giovanni Bellini who is known for many pieces, one being The Drunkeness of Noah. The artist most famous of all that Piombo got to work alongside with was Michelangelo.  During the time of the Renaissance, Michelangelo and Raphael were large rivals. It would be Michelangelo who would take Sebastiano under his wing and influence him.  Throughout Piombo’s time working with Michelangleo, the amazing artist would recommend people to go to Piombo for his work over Raphael’s to form a competition and huge rivalry between the painters.

The portrait created by Piombo entitled “The Raising of Lazarus” would be in response and a form of competition with Raphael and his version of the Transfiguration.  The two portraits would be given to the Narbonne Cathedral for decorative purposes.  It is with Piombo’s painting that it was proposed that Michelangelo helped and was a major influence in this work. The reasoning for why this was said was because at the time Michelangelo was trying to discredit Raphael for his work. Once Raphael had died, there was no longer a sense of competition and Piombo would stand out more because his portraits were able to be distinguished among other paintings because of his techniques and use of color. Later on his career, he would make seals for the Pope where he would gain the nickname of  “piombo” meaning made of lead in Italian.

The Rising of Lazarus is a depiction of a miracle Jesus had done through the eyes of Piombo.  The story, as told in John 11, tells of a man who had become ill. The man by the name of Lazarus loved the Lord and Jesus was aware of this fact. His sisters were in search of the Lord so that their brother could be healed. When the women had reached Christ they were in doubt that their brother would be alive and well again. Jesus calmed them by saying that Lazarus would rise again (John 11:23). Martha, one of the sisters, said that she knew that her brother would rise again. Jesus responded saying that He was “the resurrection and the life”. The individual who believed in Him will live and will never die.  Jesus came to the tomb where Lazarus was buried and commanded him to get up out of the grave. From the tomb, out walked Lazarus as if nothing had occurred.

This story of the relationship between Lazarus and Christ is something that everyone should strive for. Christ knew of the man’s love and belief in Him.  It is because Lazarus’ belief and love that he was able to be healed. He found that Jesus is the RESURRECTION and the LIFE. Once we realize that, we are limitless. We can love as He did and show the truth about what God has done for us. We can do anything in the world with the help from the Lord, even rise from the dead.*/key-facts

The Incredulity of Thomas – Justin Fink

20 Apr



Artist: Guercino

Medium: Oil on canvas

Date: 1621

Location: The National Gallery: London, England

Dimensions: 115.6 x 142.5

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri was born on February 8th, 1591.  He was not known as an artist by that name however. When it came to labeling who created his works of art, he claimed to be known as Guercino or Il Guercino.  He was not called this because of his birthplace like most artists were. He was born in Cento, a town not far from Bologna. The nickname “il Guercino” is Italian for squinted, That name would be given to him because the artist was cross-eyed.  Being crossed eyed did not hold him back though for is art. He is known for having amazing drawings and sketches.

Guercino was an artist during the Baroque period. During his time as an artist, he used the technique made famous by Caravaggio, chiaroscuro.  With this technique it was a combination of light and dark, whether it be with color or shading involved.  An interesting thing about Il Guercino was that he was not an apprentice. He taught himself. Early in his career, while in Bologna, he was commissioned to create an altarpiece of the “Investiture of Saint William”. Not long after that he was called on by Pope Gregory XV and moved to Rome to complete a piece of art for the Pope. It was at that time that a ceiling piece was created in dedication of the Pope’s nephew.  During his time, Barbieri would be commissioned by several Pope’s and it would be the death of one specific Pope that would bring him back to Cento where he resided until his passing in December of 1666.

This picture is a moment after Jesus had rose from the dead. In John 20:24-28, it told of how some of the disciples came to Thomas declaring they had seen Jesus alive.  Thomas was in disbelief when he heard this and said “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). It is because of Thomas’ words in this specific passage that he would be given the name “Doubting Thomas”.  Guercino’s portrait shows the moment when Jesus appears to Thomas a week after he had first seen the other disciples. Jesus walks into the house and approaches Thomas as soon as He arrives, saying “Put your fingers here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27).

At points in our lives, we are all like Thomas and question the Holy Trinity.  It is not that we question the existence, we just are unaware of the future and of God’s plan. Thomas was questioning God’s plan for His son to rise from the dead on the third day after Christ’s death.  He too was unaware of the future. We each have moments like that, but once we are able to see what God has in store for us, it is easier to believe that with God in our lives, we will have something so much better than we could have ever planned for ourselves. Thomas got the surprise of a lifetime being able to touch where Jesus was wounded. He could have never planned for that to happen in his lifetime, so he was able to believe and spread the word of God because he was given the opportunity to see Christ after He died and rose again.*/key-facts

Christ Healing the Paralytic – Kelcee Headlee

20 Apr




Artist: Murillo

Medium: Oil on canvas

Location: National Gallery: London, England

Date: Began in 1667, Ended in 1670

Dimensions: 237 x 261 cm

Bartoleme Esteban Murillo was born in 1617. All throughout his life, he lived, worked and died in one Spanish town- Seville. During the 18th and 19th centuries, he would become one of the most loved and popular European painters.  He was famous during the Baroque period of art. It was said that he had a pretty “uneventful life” although he was painting marvelous works of art and would be world renowned, becoming very successful and living what was thought to be the “good life”.  I personally would have to disagree with the idea that Murillo’s life was “uneventful” especially after seeing the beautiful work he created telling certain stories told in the Bible.

Everyone has their own idea of Jesus’ ministry as did Murillo while he was creating his artwork. He painted “Christ Healing the Paralytic” between the years of 1667 and 1670. The same story is told three different ways by three different people who were in close relation with Christ. The story is told in the Gospels Matthew (9:2-8), Mark (2:3-12), and Luke (5:17-26). My favorite telling of this amazing story would be in the gospel of Luke. There is not necessarily a reason why I prefer this version over the others, it is simply the fact that I like how it was written because you are able to envision the man who was paralyzed. The man had a group of amazing and loving friends. They did everything they could to get Jesus’ attention so that their friend could be healed.

This is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. You are able to hear of a group who loves one another and would do anything for each other. They went out on a limb, well rooftop, to get their friend the attention he needed. The friends got a mat, and lowered the paralytic down in front of Christ. In this group of friends, you are able to see the faith they have in each other. The paralytic relied on his friends for his safety and that they would lower him with ease in front of Jesus. His friends believed and had faith that their friend would be healed if they got him in front of the Lord. The thing they had in their relationship with one another was faith.

Many people lack faith and hope in another person’s abilities. We have a fear of relying and trusting on others because we do not want to be disappointed.  The paralytic and his friends put their faith in each other and then the Lord provided for them and they were able to get their goal accomplished. The only reason that the man was healed was because he and his friends first relied on God, then on each other. We need to put all of our trust in the Lord and He will provide and bring us out of our obstacles and hardships just like Jesus was able to rescue the man from his hardship of being paralyzed for his life.  The Lord provided because He is faithful to those who are faithful to Him and each morning the mercies are new.*/key-facts