Christ Nailed to the Cross – Kelcee Headlee

20 Apr


Artist: Gerard David

Medium: Oil on oak

Location: National Gallery: London, England

Date: c. 1481

Dimensions: 48.4 x93.9

Gerard David was born between the years of 1450 and 1460. The date is not specified. He was from the Netherlands from a small town called Oudewater, near Gouda. There is not much said about David, but his art depicts many biblical references. No one is certain who David apprenticed under but rumor has it he was an apprentice of Memling.  In 1483, Bruges became the hometown of David. A year after he made residence in the area he became a member of the Bruges Guild of St. Luke.  Around 1511 is when Gerard David would come to Italy for a short amount of time.  He passed away in 1523 in Bruges.

The painter was know for his skill in creating a warm feeling and emotional connection. He enjoyed being able to make an “everyday interpretation” of religious topics.  One of the things that he was praised for most was his ability to unite all aspects of a picture through the use of landscape and color scheme.  From his interpretation on landscape, he would enforce the importance of the idea of “background”.

“Christ Nailed to the Cross” is a picture that allows me to make an instant connection. When I first saw this picture, what caught my attention was the gaze from the character in the picture who was meant to be Jesus. He has this look in His eyes that breaks hearts. Jesus knew His mission coming to earth. He was sent into the world to die for God’s people and future. In previous years, when an individual sinned, they sacrificed an animal. Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice and died for everyone’s sins so that they may have a personal relationship with God and the opportunity to have eternal life in Paradise.

It is in this portrait that you are able to see the love of God in Jesus’ eyes. You can tell that He is willing to die so that His blood pours out and covers our sins.  His blood would pour out just like His love would for us. Hillsong created a song called “Lead Me to the Cross”. There is a specific line in the lyrics to the song that helped me find a deeper meaning to this artifact. Jesus was stretched out on a cross, and He paid my ransom for my sins. His blood was shed for me. His blood came rushing and pouring down just as His love did for us. He walked carrying His cross that should have been mine, was beat and mocked, and died the death of criminals. The only crime He ever committed was sharing the truth of God and loving God’s people unconditionally.  The thought of Jesus dying for me and being able to get an idea of His facial expression while being nailed to the cross has made me so much more appreciative of every blessing that God has given me, including His only Son and His never ending love that brings me to my knees in gratitude and awe.

“…Lead me to the cross

Where Your love poured out

Bring me to my knees
Lord I lay me down

Rid me of myself

I belong to You

Lead me, lead me to the cross



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?

Ognissanti Madonna (Madonna and Child Enthroned) – Juliana Harn

18 Apr

Juliana 1

Artist: Giotto di Bondone

Medium: Tempera on wood

Location: Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Date: 1310

Dimensions: 325 x 204 cm

Giotto di Bondone  (better known as just “Giotto”) was an Italian painter and architect from Florence in the 14th century. He is considered one of the first of many great artists who helped contribute to the Italian Renaissance. Giovanni Villani (a contemporary of Giotto) wrote that he was “the most sovereign master of painting in his time, who drew all his figures and their postures according to nature. And he was given a salary by the commune [of Florence] in virtue of his talent and excellence.”

Giotto’s Ognissanti Madonna is especially famous because it is the only panel painting he created during his lifetime. Despite the fact that it is not officially documented as his, art scholars and leading historians have universally acknowledged the painting as his. It was commissioned by the church of the Ognissanti in Florence, which was built by a very small religious order known as the Humiliati. However, scholars are not sure if it was made for the main altar of the church (where it would have been viewed primarily by the brothers of the order) or for the choir screen (where it would have been more easily seen by an audience of parishioners).

By painting the Madonna with baby Jesus on her lap, Giotto stayed with a very religious and traditionally subject and style. Like many other panels of this time, saints and angels surround the Madonna at her feet. This particular representation of the Virgin is called a Maestà (which was very popular with both artists and churches). Giotto’s was different from his contemporaries, in that he did not paint in the style of other Byzantine artists. As popular biographer Giorgio Vasari said of him in the 16th century, “He made a decisive break with the…Byzantine style, and brought to life the great art of painting as we know it today, introducing the technique of drawing accurately from life, which had been neglected for more than two hundred years.”

Giotto’s figures are more reminiscent of three-dimensional sculptures, like those seen in classical Roman art. The Madonna’s throne is very intricately decorated, and Giotto used a very specific colored marble to decorate the surface. The use of marble like this was a style that ended in the early Christian time period, which tells us that Giotto was knowledgeable of art of that time period as well.

Additionally, there were a number of specific artists whose styles heavily influenced the Ognissanti Madonna. The influence of Cimabue (who is traditionally acknowledged as Giotto’s teacher), is shown in the symmetrical composition of the panel. Cimabue portrayed the same subject in his 1280 Virgin and Child Enthroned, and both pieces share aspects of the Italo-Byzantine style, although Cimabue’s had fit more with the Byzantine style. Also, the two angels’ wings in Giotto and Cimabue’s pieces clearly resemble each other. Giotto learned from his teacher the importance of, and the concern for, volume and forms in space, as Ognissanti Madonna (and many of his other works) clearly shows.

The Apse Mosaic – Juliana Harn

18 Apr




Artist: unknown

Medium: mosaic

Date: c.1200

Location: Basilica of San Clemente, Rome, Italy

San Clemente’s mosaic merges the iconography of Paradise with images of the Church in the contemporary world of the 13th century. Thus its most prominent feature is a vast vine studded with figures of lords and stewards, Doctors of the Church, and peasants engaged in their daily tasks.

The vine is identified as the Church by an inscription along the rim just above the sheep reading, “Ecclesiam Christi viti similabimus isti de ligno crucis Jacobi dens, Ignatiiq[ue] insupra scripti requiescunt corpore Christi quam lex arentem, sed crux facit esse virentem”, “We have likened the Church of Christ to this vine; the Law made it wither but the Cross made it bloom. In the body of Christ above this inscription rest [some] wood from the Cross, a tooth of James, and of Ignatius.”

Although the vine is especially prominent, the entire mosaic really focuses on the cross (or crucifix) in the center. The cross itself is actually a complete crucifixion scene with Mary and St. John on either side below it, and the hand of God the Father above. The risen and reigning Christ is at the very top of the mosaic, above all at the highest point in the arch of the apse. At the bottom, the vine of life grows out of the tree at the foot of the cross, and from the cross flow the four rivers of Eden. (The two stags drinking there allude to the Bible verse “As the hart panteth after the fountains of water; so my soul panteth after thee, O God.” Psalm 42:1)

This mosaic is also one of the best-known representations of the Cross as the “Tree of Life”. Where the Cross goes into the ground, essentially a tree bursts forth and sends its vines out, covering the entire apse. In doing so it reaches and enfolds all of the different people included in the mosaic (see also teachers and preachers, chaplains and farmers, ladies and hunters, nobles and even shepherds). All of human life is brought into contact with the life that flows from the Cross. But not just human life, as the Cross includes includes fish, birds and animals, and all fill up earth and heaven, showing how Christ’s death brought life to everything. God’s hand at the top, carrying the laurel wreath, crowns Christ as the victor over death. The cross is decorated with white doves, which have been interpreted through the centuries as the Apostles who will soon fly to all corners of the world carrying the message of Christ’s victory.

This is a beautiful example of Byzantine-inspired Roman art, and the mosaic has become an important illustration of how the Cross that Jesus died on became Tree of Life for us. For me, this was also one of the first things that we studied in class, and I got to see in real life. When first walking in, I definitely experienced that moment of “Oh, I was just reading about this in a book a few days ago, and wait, now I’m here in real life?! Wait what??” kind of excitement. To be able to read about Roman architecture one day, and go see it within the next few, is one of the most amazingly unique experiences I have ever had, and something I thoroughly appreciate, and will always remember.

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!

The Last Supper – Kelcee Headlee

18 Apr

The Last Supper

Artist: Leonardo da Vinci

Medium: Tempera fresco

Date: c. 1498

Location: Santa Maria delle Grazie:  Milan

Dimensions: 4.6 X 8.8 m

He is the definition of the Renaissance man, he was into art, math and science and was an inventor. Leonardo da Vinci was one of the greatest minds to ever walk the earth.  Da Vinci was born on April 15, 1452 in Vinci, Italy. At a very young age, 14, Leonardo began to become an apprentice under the artist Verrocchio. While being an apprentice, his skill set became stronger and so did his craftsmanship in art and science.  When he became twenty years old, he had completed so many works of art and scientific ideas that he had the qualifications to be considered a master artist in the Guild of St. Luke. After this occurred, he began his own practice.

Much like Botticelli, Leonardo was also commissioned by the Medici family and was asked to create the painting, The Last Supper. The purpose of the painting would for it to be offered as a peace offering between the Medici and the Duke of Milan.

In this painting there is so much symbolism. Every single line points to Jesus, just like our lives are always supposed to point to Him. On each side, there are two groups, equaling four groups total. There are two on each side to create the idea of symmetry among the people, but inside of each group are three individuals. It is said that this is the moment of action when Jesus would tell who was going to betray him. It is obvious that is what is happening. All of the disciples are questioning Jesus for why he could say such a thing. Some are angry while others are not concerned. Judas is the one begging to the right of Jesus while John the Baptist is sitting to his left.

This is probably one of my favorite pictures ever created and especially with how Jesus’ life is depicted. From the scene that Leonardo created, Jesus is more like us than we ever thought possible. He is personable and enjoys his time with friends and those who truly care about him. That is a relatable quality to us now a days. The picture is still a very serious visual, but at the same time it is relaxing to see how Christ interacts with his disciples just as if He were to have dinner with us. We would be in awe of the whole situation, but even then we would enjoy each other’s company. We are supposed to be in search of Jesus and the Lord so that we can be in good company in Heaven. That is why it is so important to have a personal relationship with Christ so that we can live in peace and harmony and one day in Heaven see all the amazing things God has done for us that are both big and little moments.  Jesus had a very friendly quality about him that made him humble. That is how we are supposed to be. As Christians, we are supposed to be welcoming and not judgmental like Christ was, we are to humble ourselves in the presence of friends and especially the Lord because we are not worthy of any of the blessing God has given us, including his son, but he loved us enough to do that. So we have to love enough to forgive and live a life God would be pleased of.


Adoration of the Magi Medici – Kelcee Headlee

18 Apr



Artist: Botticelli

Medium: Tempera on panel

Date: c. 1475

Location: Uffizi Gallery: Florence

Dimensions: 111 X 134 cm

The Medici family was the equivalent to the Sopranos during the time of the Renaissance.  They had control over a large amount of money, played a role in government and commissioned many artists. With their wealth being so great, they could have any color paint imaginable because the Medici wanted the best they could get and have quality products and things that would last eternity. One of the artists that they would commission would be Sandro Botticelli. This picture now being held in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence was originally used in dedication of the Medici dynasty. To many people’s surprise Botticelli was not the actual last name of the artist. His last name was Filipepi. He was given the name Botticelli after his father who was a craftsman ad created barrels. With his father’s occupation, he would be called Botticelli, meaning little barrel or bottle.

Botticelli’s works were something that the Medici family became fond of, and he respected them. When he was asked to be apart of making something in dedication of them, he was happy to do so. In the portrait of the birth of Christ, three members of the Medici family were incorporated into the work of art along with a self portrait of Botticelli being one of the witnesses of Christ’s birth.   The three Medici family members were Cosimo, the head of the family, Piero and Giovanni- Cosimo’s sons. While looking at this picture, it is easy to pick out the Medici family. They are well dressed in more modern clothing for the time. Not only are they a part of this portrait, they hold high positions, well Cosimo does. Cosimo Medici was said to be one of the most powerful men of his time. He not only controlled his family, but a good portion of the economic well being of Italy. They could be considered more important than government at one point throughout their “reign”. With Cosimo having people eat out of the palm of his hand, he could do literally whatever he wanted and could walk on whoever he wanted to get to where he needed to go.  With all that being said, since he had the most power, in the artifact he is able to have one of the most esteemed position, holding and kissing the feet of Christ as an infant.

This picture is not so much based off of what Jesus’ life is all about, this photo is just an example of who the general public and artists had respect for and almost praised as a god. In this instance, the Medici were respected. Since they were so well known and lived the life of the rich and famous, they were able to have a picture with Christ, almost making themselves out to be worthy of being in the presence of God (which is not true in anyone’s case).  From this picture you can get a glimpse of what the Italian people thought was important. It was not that God was not important, they just found wealth would provide for them more and put them on top in the end.