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  1. 1. Understanding religious art LEARNING OBJECTIVE – To consider whether religious art can only be understood by religious people. By the end of the lesson: All must – consider whether religious art can only be fully understood by religious people. Most should – be able to identify religious symbolism in the pictures studied. Some could – consider the artist’s motivation for painting the picture
  2. 2. Key questions… <ul><li>Do you think that religious art can only be understood by religious people? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you think that religious art can be appreciated by non religious people? </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Over the following slides you will see a painting that has a religious subject and the Bible story that it relates to. </li></ul>
  4. 5. <ul><li>David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17) </li></ul><ul><li>  4 A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall. 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; 6 on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. 7 His spear shaft was like a weaver's rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him. </li></ul><ul><li>  8 Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, &quot;Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.&quot; 10 Then the Philistine said, &quot;This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.&quot; 11 On hearing the Philistine's words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified. </li></ul><ul><li>……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… . </li></ul><ul><li>40 Then he (David) took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine. </li></ul><ul><li>  41 Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was only a boy, ruddy and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, &quot;Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?&quot; And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 &quot;Come here,&quot; he said, &quot;and I'll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>  45 David said to the Philistine, &quot;You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give all of you into our hands.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>  48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground. </li></ul><ul><li>  50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. </li></ul><ul><li>  51 David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine's sword and drew it from the scabbard. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.       When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. </li></ul>
  5. 6. David with the Head of Goliath by Caravaggio <ul><li>This is a powerful image of the moment when the battle was concluded. There is no background to the picture, just blackness (a typical feature of many of Caravaggio’s pictures). This blackness highlights the key moment of David feeling very alone with everything depending on him. </li></ul><ul><li>David looks serious rather than triumphant, glad to have done his duty, but not pleased to have killed Goliath. The death of Goliath is treated with respect rather than mockery. The victory is not about personal satisfaction but something for all of his people, the Israelites. </li></ul>
  6. 8. <ul><li>A Wise Ruling (1 Kings 3:16-28) </li></ul><ul><li>  16 Now two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. 17 One of them said, &quot;My lord, this woman and I live in the same house. I had a baby while she was there with me. 18 The third day after my child was born, this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there was no one in the house but the two of us.  19 &quot;During the night this woman's son died because she lay on him. 20 So she got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side while I your servant was asleep. She put him by her breast and put her dead son by my breast. 21 The next morning, I got up to nurse my son—and he was dead! But when I looked at him closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn't the son I had borne.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>  22 The other woman said, &quot;No! The living one is my son; the dead one is yours.&quot;       But the first one insisted, &quot;No! The dead one is yours; the living one is mine.&quot; And so they argued before the king. </li></ul><ul><li>  23 The king said, &quot;This one says, 'My son is alive and your son is dead,' while that one says, 'No! Your son is dead and mine is alive.' &quot; </li></ul><ul><li>  24 Then the king said, &quot;Bring me a sword.&quot; So they brought a sword for the king. 25 He then gave an order: &quot;Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>  26 The woman whose son was alive was filled with compassion for her son and said to the king, &quot;Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don't kill him!&quot;       But the other said, &quot;Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>  27 Then the king gave his ruling: &quot;Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>  28 When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice. </li></ul>
  7. 9. The Judgement of Solomon by Nicolas Poussin <ul><li>This image appears like a scene from a play with the central characters and spectators watching on. </li></ul><ul><li>King Solomon sits in the centre having been called upon to make a judgement on which woman is the mother of the baby. The woman on the left begs the King to spare the child, held by the soldier behind her, while the one on the right, holding the dead baby, simply accuses the other woman, looking neither at the King or the baby about to be killed. </li></ul><ul><li>The people seem to have exaggerated poses which gives us a clue as to how they are feeling. We cannot see the face of the woman in yellow but her open armed position of begging shows love and mercy. The other woman’s face shows hatred and envy. </li></ul>
  8. 11. <ul><li>The Birth of Jesus (Luke 2:1-7) </li></ul><ul><li>  1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.  4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. </li></ul>
  9. 12. Census at Bethlehem by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-69) <ul><li>Bruegel brought biblical subjects into a human everyday environment. You have to look very carefully to see the biblical context. </li></ul><ul><li>At the inn on the left people jostle to give their names to the official and hand over money. </li></ul><ul><li>In the centre of the picture Joseph leads a donkey on which Mary sits, accompanied by an ox, the symbolic attribute of St Luke (the gospel writer who tells this story). Everyone goes about their normal business. </li></ul>
  10. 14. <ul><li>The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10) </li></ul><ul><li>  25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. &quot;Teacher,&quot; he asked, &quot;what must I do to inherit eternal life?&quot;  26&quot;What is written in the Law?&quot; he replied. &quot;How do you read it?&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>  27He answered: &quot; 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbour as yourself.'&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>  28&quot;You have answered correctly,&quot; Jesus replied. &quot;Do this and you will live.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>  29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, &quot;And who is my neighbour?&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>  30In reply Jesus said: &quot;A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' </li></ul><ul><li>  36&quot;Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>  37The expert in the law replied, &quot;The one who had mercy on him.&quot;       Jesus told him, &quot;Go and do likewise.&quot; </li></ul>
  11. 15. The Good Samaritan by Rembrandt <ul><li>Rembrandt painted landscapes with a biblical theme. The Good Samaritan is a good example of this. He uses storm and sun as a sign of God’s response to man’s heartlessness and warmth. </li></ul><ul><li>In Jewish law it was forbidden to touch a dead man, so in following the law, the Priest and Levite who ignore the man in distress are lacking in humanity. As the Samaritan places the man on his donkey, the sun shines through, showing that humanity’s love and generosity supersedes selfishness. There is a carriage in the distance lit up by the sunlight. It would have passed the injured man, which symbolises that God pours his love on the unjust as well as the just and that one person’s goodness (the Samaritan’s) benefits many. </li></ul>
  12. 17. <ul><li>The Parable of the Lost Son (Luke 15) </li></ul><ul><li>  11Jesus continued: &quot;There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.  13&quot;Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. </li></ul><ul><li>  17&quot;When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' 20So he got up and went to his father.       &quot;But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. </li></ul><ul><li>  21&quot;The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' </li></ul><ul><li>  22&quot;But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate. </li></ul><ul><li>  25&quot;Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.' </li></ul><ul><li>  28&quot;The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!' </li></ul><ul><li>  31&quot; 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' &quot; </li></ul>
  13. 18. Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt <ul><li>This picture shows the point of reconciliation, when the prodigal son returns and is greeted by his father. </li></ul><ul><li>We see no criticism or sermon just total forgiveness and love as the father embraces his son. The dutiful elder son looks on, aggrieved with what he is witnessing. </li></ul><ul><li>The picture is challenging as it is easy to feel sympathy for the elder son rather than the father or younger son. However, the story goes beyond a family saga. It’s true nature is about the Kingdom of God and the belief that God forgives when people have strayed and will always forgive, whatever people have done. </li></ul>
  14. 20. <ul><li>Jesus Clears the Temple (Mark 11) </li></ul><ul><li>   15On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17And as he taught them, he said, &quot;Is it not written:    &quot; 'My house will be called       a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it 'a den of robbers.'&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>  18The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. </li></ul>
  15. 21. Christ driving the traders from the Temple by El Greco <ul><li>In this picture we see Jesus driving out the money changers from the Temple. His face shows righteous indignation at what he sees happening in what should be the house of God. </li></ul><ul><li>The pictures on either side of the arch echo who Jesus was. On the left we have Adam and Eve being expelled from the Garden of Eden. On the right we have Abraham about to sacrifice Isaac. Jesus standing in the middle is to be the ultimate, or final, sacrifice, atoning for Adam and Eve’s original sin. </li></ul><ul><li>The other people in the picture are interesting. Some fall to their knees before Jesus, while others at the back are chatting to each other, apparently taking no notice of the unfolding drama. </li></ul>
  16. 23. <ul><li>Gethsemane (Matthew 26) </li></ul><ul><li>  36Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, &quot;Sit here while I go over there and pray.&quot; 37He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38Then he said to them, &quot;My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.&quot;  39Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, &quot;My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>  40Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. &quot;Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?&quot; he asked Peter. 41&quot;Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>  42He went away a second time and prayed, &quot;My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>  43When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. </li></ul><ul><li>  45Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, &quot;Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Jesus Arrested </li></ul><ul><li>  47While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. </li></ul>
  17. 24. Agony in the Garden by Giovanni Bellini <ul><li>This picture shows Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane just before he is arrested. Three of his disciples (Peter, James and John) are sleeping behind him and in the distance we can see Judas and a group of soldiers approaching to arrest him. </li></ul><ul><li>The angel in the sky is revealing a cup and patten, indicating the impending sacrifice. The landscape in the picture is not biblical but contemporary, a place full of footpaths, perhaps symbolising the many directions in which a life can turn. The morning light casts an unearthly glow on the scene. </li></ul>
  18. 26. <ul><li>Jesus Arrested (Matthew 26) </li></ul><ul><li>  47While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: &quot;The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.&quot; 49Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, &quot;Greetings, Rabbi!&quot; and kissed him.  50Jesus replied, &quot;Friend, do what you came for.&quot; </li></ul>
  19. 27. The taking of Christ by Caravaggio <ul><li>Here is a scene of the arrest of Jesus. Caravaggio zooms into close up where we see Judas clasping his friend’s arm and moving to kiss him. John turns his back on Jesus and screams in terror. The armoured soldiers close in on Jesus and a man at the back holds up a lantern to identify him. </li></ul><ul><li>The face of Judas is interesting. He looks searchingly at Jesus with a furrowed brow, but finds no reaction. Jesus accepts his fate without fighting back. His face, however, shows sorrow and fear. He looks downwards towards his hands, which have interlacing fingers. There is no sign of violence or a fight back. </li></ul>
  20. 29. <ul><li>Jesus and the Miraculous Catch of Fish (John 21) </li></ul><ul><li>  1Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: 2Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3&quot;I'm going out to fish,&quot; Simon Peter told them, and they said, &quot;We'll go with you.&quot; So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.  4Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. </li></ul><ul><li>  5He called out to them, &quot;Friends, haven't you any fish?&quot;       &quot;No,&quot; they answered. </li></ul><ul><li>  6He said, &quot;Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.&quot; When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. </li></ul><ul><li>  7Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, &quot;It is the Lord!&quot; As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, &quot;It is the Lord,&quot; he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. </li></ul><ul><li>  10Jesus said to them, &quot;Bring some of the fish you have just caught.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>  11Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them, &quot;Come and have breakfast.&quot; None of the disciples dared ask him, &quot;Who are you?&quot; They knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. </li></ul>
  21. 30. Miraculous draught of fish by Raphael <ul><li>This shows the story of an appearance of Jesus after his resurrection. Jesus is seen as a model of humility and serenity as he sits in a boat surrounded by squirming fish. </li></ul><ul><li>We see the disciples working and anxious. One walks towards Jesus while another looks towards him, apparently lost for words. In the other boat they continue working, but the one on the left is distracted and looks over. </li></ul><ul><li>The picture shows Jesus, an amazing sight at this point, in the midst of normal activity, perhaps indicating the importance of Jesus in everyday life. </li></ul>
  22. 32. <ul><li>On the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24) </li></ul><ul><li>  13Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16but they were kept from recognizing him.  17He asked them, &quot;What are you discussing together as you walk along?&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>    They stood still, their faces downcast. 18One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, &quot;Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>  19&quot;What things?&quot; he asked. </li></ul><ul><li>    &quot;About Jesus of Nazareth,&quot; they replied. &quot;He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>  25He said to them, &quot;How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?&quot; 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. </li></ul><ul><li>  28As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 29But they urged him strongly, &quot;Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.&quot; So he went in to stay with them. </li></ul><ul><li>  30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32They asked each other, &quot;Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>  33They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34and saying, &quot;It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.&quot; 35Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. </li></ul>
  23. 33. The Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio <ul><li>This picture shows the moment when Cleopas and his companion recognise the risen Christ. They had met a stranger on the road to Emmaus and during the journey and told them about Jesus and their hopes that he would redeem Israel. </li></ul><ul><li>The light leaps down from above as they realise who the stranger is; the astonishment of the disciples is clear. The standing innkeeper looks impassively at Jesus, perhaps confused. Christ’s face is young and clean shaven. The fact that Jesus has just broken bread, simultaneously shows his last supper before his death and his first celebration as the risen Christ. </li></ul><ul><li>The whole picture shows how we are likely to pass God in everyday life, without even noticing him. </li></ul>
  24. 34. <ul><li>For each, think about the significance of the picture. </li></ul><ul><li>Why do you think that the artist chose his subject matter? What message was the artist attempting to show? </li></ul><ul><li>What symbolism did you identify in the pictures? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the picture clearly reflect the whole Bible story or have aspects been added or taken away? Why do you think the artist chose that particular moment in the story. </li></ul>
  25. 35. <ul><li>Assess the view that religious art can only be fully understood by religious people (15 marks). </li></ul><ul><li>Think about reasons why people would say yes and why people would say no. (Use ideas from the pictures you have considered this lesson). </li></ul><ul><li>Are there some of the pictures which tend to give a positive answer to the question and some that tend to give a negative answer to the question? </li></ul>
  26. 36. <ul><li>Consider Caravaggio’s painting of David with the head of Goliath. Compare this picture to Michelangelo’s statue of David. </li></ul><ul><li>What are the similarities and differences between the two? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you think the artists were attempting to show us the same aspects of the story of David and Goliath or different aspects? </li></ul><ul><li>Which do you prefer? Why? </li></ul>