Friday, August 15, 2008


Doubting Thomas
oil on canvas, 107x146 cm
Stiftung Schlosser und Garten, Sanssouci, Potsdam
image courtsey of wikimediacommons

I tend to stay away from discussing much about biblical scenes as they expose my lack of knowledge so I am going to share some quotes from The Story of Art by E.H. Gombrich, one of the most popular histories of art written, reprinted at least 16 times (my copy is from 1995, originally published in 1950). Its popularity stems from its personal and conversation style of writing. Unfortunately it is severely lacking in the work of women artists, as are many still but now that I've recently taken up reading it again, I see the draw.

"He (Caravaggio) was one of the great artists, like Giotto and Durer before him, who wanted to see the holy events before his own eyes as if they had been happening in his neighbor's house. And he did everything possible to make the figures of the ancient texts look more real and tangible." (Gombrich, E.H. The Story of Art. Phaidon (1995) 393.) Caravaggio is secured in the history of art not only for his 'naturlism' but for his use of light. "His light does not make the body look graceful and soft: it is harsh and almost glaring in its contrast to the deep shadows. But it makes the whole strange scene stand out with an uncompromising honesty wihcih few of his contemporaries could appreciate, but which had a decisive effect on later artists." (Gombrich 393) This use of light is called chiaroscuro, one of my favorite art terms, vanitas and others soon to come. In Italian it means bright-dark, and that is esssentially its meaning in art, the strongly contrasting effects of light and dark. It is predominantly associated with 17th century artists such as Caravaggio and Rembrandt but was pioneered by Leonardo da Vinci.

For those interested art related to the bible, I came across a site that posts biblical scene paintings along with the verses with which they are associated. It is a pretty straightforward site, and its interesting to see the religious google ads that accompany it. Artbible
and for the longest and shortest of it all... the bible concordance

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