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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.


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

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

Cristo e la Samaritana al Pozzo – Juliana Harn

18 Apr

Juliana 2



Artist: Benvenuto Tisi (also called il Garofalo)

Medium: Oil Paint on CanvasDate: apx. 1525-1549

Date: c. 1525-1549

Location: Borghese Gallery, Rome

Dimensions: 13×18 cm

Il Garofalo was an artist in the late Renaissance, from the School of Ferrara painters. Considered to be one of the foremost Italian Mannerists, his works were a classic example of this school of painters, but he also developed a more classical style influenced from his time spent in Rome and from the work of his contemporary, Giulio Romano. Garofalo’s career began attached to the court of the Duke d’Este. His early works have been described as “idyllic”, but they often are similar, and conform to, the elaborate style favored by the artistically refined Ferrarese court.

Early in his artistic training, he studied under artists such as Domenico Panetti, Lorenzo Costa, and even under Raphael in the decoration of the Stanza della Segnatura. He studied and painted in Roman and Venetian styles in Rome, until family affairs called him back to Ferrara. While he was in Ferrara, he painted extensively, using both in oil and fresco, and even worked with clay a bit. But tragically, in 1550 blindness overtook him, and Garofalo died in 1559. But his small legacy does remain, for today, one can still see the vivid colors with which he painted. And it is said that “Even his least successful works retain, amid their frigid and porcelain quality, a harmony which marks Venetian coloring.” Many scholars agree that he ranks among the best of the Ferrarese painters. (As Garofalo’s given name is Benvenuto Tisi, it was difficult to find extensive information on him because many of his later paintings were not signed with his real name, but with his nickname “Garofalo”. This nickname is the Italian word for clover, and comes from his habit of signing some of his works with a picture of a clover.)

Personally, I loved this painting, because although it is smaller, it certainly catches your eye! The colors are still bright and vivid, even after 500 years, which is especially impressive. The blue and red in Jesus’ clothing sticks out beautifully in front of a black and green background. Here, Garofalo depicts the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, which is one of my favorites. Jesus is pointing at the woman, and in my mind, Garofalo is showing us the moment where Jesus tells her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

In the corner of the painting we also see the disciples looking over, confused and questioning as to why Jesus is talking to this Samaritan woman (and also probably confused by Christ’s parable). However, the Samaritan woman does not look shocked or confused, but peaceful, as if she knows what Jesus is saying is true. Although this is not exactly biblical, the woman at the well looks very similar to the other women in paintings of this time period, especially Mary: sweet, docile, and understanding – a picture of the ideal Renaissance woman, perhaps?

Untitled (The Bleeding Woman) – Meg Spierto

17 Apr

bleeding woman

Artist: Unknown

Medium: Fresco

Date: 4th Century AD

Location: Catacombs of Macellinus and Peter, Rome, Italy

This Untitled fresco is known as The Bleeding Woman. It depicts the story in Mark 5 of the bleeding woman who sought out Jesus through a crowd. The story starts off with Jesus going to heal the daughter of a synagogue leader, but on His way, He is swarmed by a crowd wanting to see His glory. “A woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ” But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (NIV). The story cuts in the middle of Jesus on His way to heal an important figure’s daughter. It is curious why the story of the bleeding woman would be important enough to interrupt such a story. Perhaps it was because the bleeding woman was a better representation of the common sinner. While it was extremely important that Jesus heal the synagogue leader’s daughter, it is somewhat expected. For Jesus to heal a random peasant is another situation. Jesus wanted to show that even those who are not the best of the best, those who may be dirty or undesirable, even them, He loves and even them, He heals.

The woman, who reaches out to Jesus, in a way, represents every believer who knows Jesus is risen. She had never met Jesus and she did not know what would happen if she touched Him, but she had so much faith that she was able to stand out from the rest. Jesus says to her, “your faith has healed you” (vs 34). It is through faith that we are saved and that is what is being said in this passage of scripture. No matter who you are, no matter what status you are or where you are from, faith is the only way to be healed. Ephesians 2 says in verses 8 and 9, “for it is by grace you have been saved through faith. Yet not of yourselves, but it is a gift from God, not by works, lest anyone should boast”.

This fresco is in the Catacombs of Macellinus and Peter. The woman in the paining is said to represent those in the catacombs beneath her. When they were baptized and took communion it was as if they were touching Jesus’ garments. Jesus welcomed them through these sacraments. He saw their faith and though they were dead, He gave them new life in heaven.

The Baptism of Christ – Shaila Costanza

17 Apr

baptism of christ


Artist:  Andrea del Verrocchio & Leonardo da Vinci

Date: c. 1475

Location: Ulfzi, Florence

Medium: oil on wood

Dimensions: 177 x 151 cm


Andrea Del Verrocchio, the teacher of Leonardo DaVinci, was commissioned by San Salvi monks near Florence to create this painting. Leonardo also took part in this masterpiece, by painting the kneeling angel holding the mantle. He was only 23 years old at the time but it shows mainly of his characteristics that are seen in his later works, specifically her hair, bright eyes, and the tuffs of grass near her knees.  All the other figures are done by Verrocchio, Botticello, Credi and various other students from Verrocchio’s studio.  Rumor has it that after Verrocchio saw Leonardo’s angel, he was so overwhelmed that his student had done better work than him and was highly embarrassed, claiming to never want to paint again. It is also suspected that this was Verrocchio’s last known painting. There has been x-rays taken of the painting to show the original sketch lines of the images and it showed that Verrocchio’s original intent for the angel was completely different than that of Leonard’s painting. Verrocchio intended the angle to look natural and engaged in the rest of the activity happening in the scene, but Leonardo chose to make him look uninterested and bored.  Even the draperies on the angel foreshadow his later work, for they are stiff and hard.  Leonardo also contributed to retouching the hair of the other angel as well as the area above her head.  The work that Leonardo contributed was painted in oil, which was new to the time period and was newly introduced to Italy. The rest of the portions were done in traditional egg tempera, which made the surface similar to enamel.

This artwork shows Christ being baptized by John the Baptist as according to the gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The top of the painting shows God’s arms extended with golden rays and a dove with its wings spread wide.  The angels to the left of Jesus and John the Baptist are holding Jesus’ clothes.  The scene lines up nicely with Matthew 3:13-17 “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.  But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Therefore, the painting is rather accurate with scripture, with literal details, which strengthens the meaning of the painting.


Wikipedia, (2013).

Wikipedia (2013).

Christ Driving the Traders From the Temple – Shaila Costanza

17 Apr

christ driving the traders from the temple

Date: c. 1600

Artist:  El Greco

Location: National Gallery, London

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: 106 x 129 cm

El Greco created at least four versions of this image of Christ cleansing the temple, and this particular painting is the third. Amongst those versions, they all contrast the Old Law with the New law.  The story of this image can be found in the book of John saying “Jesus went up to Jerusalem; And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting; And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.”  In El Greco’s version, he leaves out the oxen, sheep, and sellers of doves and left only few cowering and troubled figures. On the left of Jesus are the traders and to the right the apostles are pictured. There is only a single moneychanger stooping and straining to lift a casket of coins that are next to an overturned table.  During the time of Christ, the porch of the Temple in Jerusalem was used for buying animals to be sacrificed and for the changing of money. Matthew 20 talks about Jesus driving out such behavior saying, “My house shall be called a house of prayer; but you make it a den of thieves.” In all of the versions, there is an old man to the left, which is associated with the Law in Paul’s writings. A women with a cage of doves can be found in the earlier two paintings, but replaces that space with the coin box in the later paintings. In this painting, the reliefs on the walls of the temple are supposed to represent the expulsion from the Garden of Eden to the left and the sacrifice of Isaac to the right. The final version of the painting depicts only the expulsion. Adam and Eve’s eviction from paradise foreshadows the Purification of the Temple and the sacrifice of Isaac foreshadows Christ’s death as a source of redemption. The traders are strategically placed on the left side, the same side as the expulsion relief to signify sin, as in the same way that the apostles are placed on the right side with the sacrifice of Isaac, representing redemption. A side with good and a side with evil are alluding to the Last Judgment. The painting is very disproportionate in the way the figures are not scaled correcting in relation to each other and in real life. If the kneeling St. Peter were to stand up he would be much larger then every other figure in the painting. Christ is the dominate center point of the picture, positioned in mid-action, about to unleash his whip on the traders. As El Greco painted and repainted the same scene, he eliminated and added what were, in his eyes, the important details of what he was trying to convey, in order to come up with the perfect depiction of the scene.

Web Gallery of Art,

Andrew Graham-Dixon Archive,