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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.


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

Transfiguration – Kelcee Headlee

18 Apr

Giovanni Gerolamo Savoldo-477455

Artist: Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo

Medium: Oil on wood

Date: 1535

Location: Uffizi Gallery: Florence

Dimensions: 139 X 126 cm

Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo was also known as Girolamo da Brescia. The artist was an Italian painter who was about of the High Renaissance era. The alternative name for the artist, Girolamo da Brescia, literally means Girolamo of Brescia. It is very likely that the artist was from that area. The only conflict with that being said is that most of his artistic activity was done in Venice. A small part of his work was claimed to be completed in other parts of Italy such as Milan and Parma.

The High Renaissance era is filled with portraits of Christ and different parts of his life, from birth to after he rose from the dead. Many times in the artifacts, Christ is shown the Lord of Creation. He is the ruler of all. He is who broke the idea that people had to go to a priest in order to get to God. Jesus was able to show people that He is the way to God and each person is able to form a relationship with God through Christ and accepting Him as our Lord and Savior.

Savoldo is praised for his use of color in his oil paintings. He is able to use the techniques of chiaroscuro and sfumato.  The smoky quality of sfumato is something that is evident in the picture. There is a gradual darkness going down the picture into the rocks and landscape.  His coloring is also vibrant. He uses a good combination of light and dark, reds, whites, and blues.

The story of the Transfiguration is one that is completely amazing and you can only imagine the glory of Jesus and His Father, but it will be one thing we will never be able to fully understand. In Matthew 17, the Bible says that Jesus took three of his disciples to the top of a high mountain. Peter, James and John would see something that no one else would ever be able to experience. On that mountaintop, Jesus would be illuminated. His face would shine like the sun and His clothes would become a blinding shade of white. While Jesus shone like the sun, Moses and Elijah appeared at His sides and the three disciples were in shock. They were frightened by the power of the Lord. Jesus told them “get up,” and to not be afraid. Once they had seen this, they were sworn to secrecy and were not able to tell of what they saw. If I had to swear not to tell what happened, I do not know what I would do. I would want to try to explain the elaborate thing that I had just witnessed to tell of God’s glory and His power.

From this portrait, you are able to tell just how amazing God is. We owe so much to Him. The greatest gift we can give Him is our heart and all of our praise. He deserves that much from us especially after all He has done for us, like sacrificing His Son and showing His love everyday by blessing us with the ability to wake up being alive and well in whatever circumstance we are in. Praise God for everything that He has done and His glory and unfailing love!