The Incredulity of Thomas – Justin Fink

20 Apr

Guercino-Barbieri-Giovanni-Francesco-The-Incredulity-of-Saint-Thomas

 

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.

 

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/artists/guercino

http://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Guercino.html

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/guercino-the-incredulity-of-saint-thomas/*/key-facts

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