The Louvre: Christian figures

Although I’ve almost done with posting about my seven-day travel in London and Paris last summer, I am still left with 146 photos I took from the Louvre. After posting on ‘my favourite paintings in the Louvre‘  back in May, I quickly realized that that single brief post featuring only three artworks could not contain all of my experience in the Louvre. I’m extending it to a series of posts on what I saw in the world’s largest museum, organized into the following categories: Myths, legends, Christianity, and history. Click on my Travel page to see more.

As a Christian, I had the pleasure of recognizing the religious icons and saints depicted in the Italian Renaissance paintings, mostly by Leonardo da Vinci and his contemporaries. Their classical divinity made me feel like visiting one of the wondrous cathedrals in Rome and standing before the high altar. Even so, da Vinci’s works give more artistic impression rather than of religious, as several accounts and interpretations suggest.

“St. John the Baptist (1513)” by Leonardo da Vinci. The curly hair, mysterious smile and the panther skin he wears also reminds of Bacchus, the Greek god of wine and pleasure, the very opposite ideals of John the Baptist. The  ambiguity of the subject is a typical feature of da Vinci’s artistic pursuits.

“St. Sebastian (1500)” by Perugino, famously known as the teacher of Raphael. His style of the balanced proportion, the use of perspective, and the inclusion of classical architecture are all present in this painting of St. Sebastian at the moment of his martyrdom. The saint was a Roman soldier under the emperor Diocletian and was tied and periced by arrows after being discovered as a Christian.

“The Virgin of the Rocks (1483)” by Leonardo da Vinci. It was also a immensely crowded exhibit so this was the best shot I could take… 😦 Most people would be familiar with this artwork after reading Dan Brown’s 2004 bestseller the Da Vinci Code. Originally commissioned for the church of San Francesco in Milan, the painting was rejected by the donors probably for omitting clear identification of the figures. A slightly modified version, created by Leonardo’s pupil between 1495 and 1508, is now exhibited in the National Gallery in London.

“The Annunciation (1565)” by Giorgio Vasari. It was painted as the centrepiece of a triptych for the high altar of Santa Maria Novella in Arezzo, Tuscany. The dove, representing the holy spirit, descends towards the Virgin in a blazing light. The Angel holds the lilies as the symbol of the Virgin’s purity.

Click here to see more of my travel posts  !!


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