Religious art

Rogier Van Der Weyden by Geoff Harrison

Like many artists early in their careers, I was somewhat intimidated by the masters of the past, and in my case they were the Heidelberg School artists of the late 19th century.  But never mind them, what about Rogier Van Der Weyden (about 1399-1464).

Rogier Van Der Weyden                                                                       Descent From The Cross

Rogier Van Der Weyden                                                                       Descent From The Cross

His "Descent From The Cross" (c.1435) measuring approximately 2.6 metres wide is considered one of the masterpieces of the Renaissance.  It is a triumph of draftsmanship, composition and emotion.  The clear, cool colours of the new oil paintings which were just appearing on the scene at this time are another highlight.  I'm not of a religious inclination at all, but I do acknowledge the contribution religion has made to art and architecture.

If you care to look, you will find on Youtube a 5 minute segment from the series "The Renaissance Unchained" hosted by Waldemar Januszczak featuring this painting.  It is a very moving account of a work of genius which was a commission from the Cross Bowman's Guild - hence the shape formed by Christ's body.

Melodrama In Art by Geoff Harrison

This is Jules Delaunay's The Plague In Rome (131 x 176 cm) which was a huge hit at the 1869 Paris Salon.  Critics at the time likened it to an operatic production.  As described by Robert Rosenblum (see previous post), this work is a blend of the historical and supernatural.  It illustrates a narrative from The Golden Legend (a 13th Century compilation) that tells the story of how, during the Roman plague of 680AD, a good angel commanded the bad angel to strike the doors of the godless with a spear, the number of knocks determining how many deaths there should be in the home.  

Rosenblum explains that epidemics such as cholera were still recurrent in 19th Century France and, as is often the case with human disasters, a religious explanation of sinful behaviour could easily be provided.