Probably the most spectacular form of Christian painting was the church ceiling mural painting (called quadratura), often executed with trompe l'oeil illusionist effects. This decoration of vaulted/domed ceilings of churches began during the Renaissance in Italy. Renaissance examples included: the Sala delle Prospettive fresco (c.1517, Villa Farnesina) by Baldessare Peruzzi; and the Assumption of the Virgin (1524-30) by Correggio, which decorated the domed ceiling of Parma Cathedral. Christian Canvas Art
As it was, Byzantine architecture achieved its distinctive forms during the life of Justinian, who built four major churches in Constantinople, including: the Basilica of Saints Sergius and Bacchus (begun 526); the Basilica of Saint Irene (begun 532); the Basilica of the Apostles (536-46) - whose design was replicated in St Mark's Cathedral in Venice - and the greatest of all, the Basilica of Hagia Sophia (1532-37) (converted to a mosque in 1453, now a museum). Crowned by a massive dome whose weight was carried to corner piers by revolutionary concave triangular sections of stone, called pendentives, and decorated throughout with gold mosaics and multicoloured marble, the Hagia Sophia was the culmination of Roman architecture and a huge inspiration for later buildings throughout the Middle East, including the Sultan Ahmed Mosque.
Immortal religious paintings from the Renaissance include: The Flagellation of Christ (1460) by Piero della Francesca; The Last Supper (1495-98) and The Virgin of the Rocks (1484) by Leonardo da Vinci; Lamentation over the Dead Christ (c.1490) by Andrea Mantegna; The Sistine Madonna (1513) and The Transfiguration (1518-20) by Raphael; The Assumption of the Virgin (1516-8) by Titian; the Assumption of the Virgin (Parma Cathedral) (1524-30) on the ceiling of the dome in Parma Cathedral by Correggio; The Wedding Feast at Cana (1563) and Feast in the House of Levi (1573) by Paolo Veronese; and The Crucifixion (1565) by Tintoretto. The greatest Christian Renaissance sculpture included: The Gates of Paradise (1425-52, Florence Baptistery) by Lorenzo Ghiberti; The Incredulity of St Thomas (1467) by Andrea Verrocchio; numerous items of devotional terracotta sculpture by the Florentine Della Robbia family; Pieta (1500), David (1504) and the Tomb of Pope Julius II (1505-45) by Michelangelo. But surely the most iconic Christian art of the 16th century must be the Sistine Chapel frescoes, painted by Michelangelo. These include The Genesis Fresco (1508-12) - see in particular The Creation of Adam (God Passing the Spark of Life).
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter's house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the Lord came to me: ... Christian Canvas Art
Even in Protestant Amsterdam, however, there remained a modest demand for religious paintings. One of the most important commissions received by the young Rembrandt, was five paintings for Prince Frederick Henry of Orange - the leading soldier in the Dutch wars against Catholic Spain - on the subject of Christ's Passion. In addition to his skill as a portraitist, Rembrandt went on to become the greatest religious painter of Dutch Protestantism, noted for works like: The Blinding of Samson (1636), The Sacrifice of Isaac (1636), Susanna and the Elders (1647), Bathsheba Holding King David's Letter (1654), Jacob Blessing the Children of Joseph (1656), and Return of the Prodigal Son (1666-69).
The Italian Early Baroque painter Caravaggio was one of the heroes of the Catholic Counter-Reformation arts campaign. Not because of his piety, but because he painted Christ, the Virgin Mary, the Apostles and Saints, with such unbelievable naturalism. Caravaggio's brand of unsophisticated realism was the perfect style for the Church's message. It gave key Biblical events an immediacy which no other painter had achieved. By abandoning the stylistic pretensions of late Mannerism - a style which was understood only by an educated minority, he provided the instant inspirational impact demanded by the Council of Trent. His greatest works include: The Calling of St Matthew (1600), The Martyrdom of St Matthew (1600), Conversion on the Way to Damascus (1601), Supper at Emmaus (1602), The Entombment of Christ (1601-3), The Crucifixion of St Peter (1601), and The Death of the Virgin (1601-6). His dramatic use of light and shadow was continued after his death by followers of so-called caravaggism. Scripture Art
In the West, the Renaissance saw an increase in monumental secular works, but until the Protestant Reformation Christian art continued to be commissioned in great quantities by churches, clergy and by the aristocracy. The Reformation had a huge effect on Christian art, rapidly bringing the production of public Christian art to a virtual halt in Protestant countries, and causing the destruction of most of the art that already existed. Christian Canvas Art
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