Jesus in Religious Art

Jesus in Religious Art
"The Passion of the Christ" was #1 at the box office. "Passion" means "life." It was an extremely controversial film. "This film tells the story of the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus, on the day of his crucifixion in Jerusalem. This film's script is based upon several sources, including the diaries of St. Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) as collected in the book, 'The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ,' 'The Mystical City of God' by St. Mary of Agreda, and the New Testament books of John, Luke, Mark and Matthew." Quoted from the Movies category at Yahoo.

I have viewed this movie and found it to be very powerful from the standpoint of the re-enactment of Christ's crucifiction. There is extreme violence which I found to be almost overdone. Not that I would in any way underestimate the pain and torture that Christ endured, but I found it unbearable to watch at times. I'm sure that was Mel Gibson's intent. Be sure to watch it on DVD.

In the theme of Religious art, the subject of Jesus can be found in the following chronological order: the Annunciation, birth of Jesus, Madonna and Child, the Holy Family, the Assumption of the Virgin, Jesus on earth.
Some of the early paintings in the history of art depict Jesus accompanied by angels, a favorite subject to many (myself included).

Jan van Eyck (Late Gothic) is credited with the discovery of oil painting. His painting, "The Annunciation," at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, was a popular subject of his time. This painting depicts the moment the angel Gabriel announces to the Virgin that she will be the mother of Jesus. This long, slender painting has wonderful color, especially on the wings of the angel. It is a must see when in Washington, DC.
Once when I visited the National Gallery I wanted to show a fellow traveler this beautiful painting, only to find it was loaned to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA. To my delight, I was about to visit Philadelphia on my return trip home.

Murals by Giotto (Gothic) can best be seen at the Arena Chapel in Padua, Italy. If you won’t be visiting Italy anytime soon, you can see a wonderful painting, "The Epiphany," at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. This painting, tempura on wood with a gold background, shows the Adoration of the Magi. Giotto painted the most beautiful flying angels with expressions like mortal men. They feel and express sorrow, anger, and fear.

An example of Madonna and Child can be seen in late Byzantine art (late 13th century) in "Madonna Enthroned," from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. The medium of this elaborate painting is tempera on wood panel.

"The Holy Family" was the subject matter for a painting by Peter Paul Rubens (Baroque) found at the North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh). Rubens can always be recognized by the robust figures of his models.

Nicholas Poussin (Baroque) painted "Assumption of the Virgin" found at the
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. There is such a richness of color and ease of brushwork. It has been said that Pablo Picasso and the Cubists were greatly influenced by Poussin.

Rembrandt van Rijn’s (Baroque) etching of "Christ Preaching" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY is a wonderful example of his importance as a graphic artist.

I highly recommend the following video, "The Face-Jesus in Art." I first saw it on PBS TV and it was fascinating. They are able, by computer graphics, to change the face of Christ through the eyes of artists. It is quite amazing!
For art lovers, graphic artists, historians alike, you will love this video. Available here from


"The Face - Jesus in Art" video

In celebration of the "Creation of Adam" by Michelangelo, this lovely art print "Sistine Chapel-Adam" is available from to admire over and over again.

Sistine Chapel-Adam

Sistine Chapel-Adam

Art Print


Buy at

You Should Also Read:
Jan van Eyck
An Art and Antiques Collaboration

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