Since the dawn of Christianity, artists have been fascinated and stirred by the figure of Christ. His likeness appears in frescos on the walls of catacombs that date from Roman times; he is featured in the stained-glass windows of Gothic churches; and he can be found in various forms in today’s pop culture. The Biblical Saviour is not a static, immaterial deity: Christ’s mortal birth, unusual life, and dramatic death make him an accessible subject for religious and secular artists alike. Whether they show the spirituality of God Incarnate or the earthly characteristics of a flesh-and-blood man, artistic depictions of Christ are the most controversial, moving, or inspirational examples of religious art. This richly illustrated book explores the various ways that Christ is rendered in art, from Cimabue’s Nativity scenes and Fra Angelico’s paintings of the Crucifixion to the provocative portraits of Salvador Dalí and Andres Serrano. Ernest Renan guides the reader through the most iconic representations of Christ in art — tender or graphic, classical or bizarre, these images of the Messiah reveal the diverse roles of the Son of God in the social milieus and personal lives of the artists.
The art world is filled with the presence of the Virgin Mary – a fundamental symbol of motherhood, who has been radiating youthfulness, tenderness, and compassion for 2,000 years. Finding in her an inexhaustible source of inspiration, artists have consistently used the image of the Virgin Mary to reflect our own sufferings and joys. The author Kyra Belan leads us on a comprehensive tour analysing the profound meaning to be found in the images of the Virgin – from personal interpretations to spiritual reflections on a universal level. These works of art present a fascinating visual commentary on the evolution of Western art as well as a striking record of the rise in status of women in society. With more than 200 illustrations, 2,000 years of human history are expressed in a single image; that of the Blessed Virgin, Christ’s mother.
Ernest Renan (1823-1992) was a French philosopher, historian, and religious scholar. He is famous for his important works on Christianity and for his political theories.
Specialist and writer on mythology, Dr Kyra Belan is above all an artist, as witnessed by her major in representational art.
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