The paintings below tell a story from the Book of Daniel, Old Testament. The topic is the final evening of the Babylon empire. Rather than preparing for war with threatening Persians, who are probably already gathering outside the city of Babylon, Belshazzar, referred to as the “son” of King Nebuchadnezzar, is seen spending his time at a feast – his crowning celebration. Belshazzar did not seem to learn the lesson of humility from King Nebuchadnezzar, and failed to honour God. So, during this merry time, an inscription “by the hand of God” appears on the wall. No one from Belshazzar’s entourage is able to decipher it, until prophet Daniel is send for and is able to decipher. The mysterious inscription reads:”mene, mene, tekel, upharsin“, which is interpreted by Daniel to mean:“God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end. You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting. Your kingdom is given to the Medes and Persians.”
Tag: Biblical Art
Annunciation to the Shepherds: 3 Artworks
“And the angel said to them “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” [Luke 2: 8 – 14].
I thought I would return to religious art (see also my previous post 5 “The Last Supper” Paintings). I am choosing to focus on three artworks that depict the annunciation to the shepherds because this is a somewhat overlooked episode from the Bible and most prefer to focus on the nativity scene itself or on the adoration of the Magi when depicting Biblical episodes. The episode concerns the appearance of the angel who tells the shepherds the location of the Christ Child.
I. Annunciation to the Shepherds by Taddeo Gaddi
Maybe this artwork is my favourite because I remember I visited many times the Basilica of Santa Croce when I lived in Florence and this fresco is from there – located in the Baroncelli Chapel. It dates to around 1328 and is said to be one of the first night-time depictions of this kind. Taddeo Gaddi approached differently the presentation of the angel here, especially by the standards of that time, and the spiritual light surrounding the angel and the casting of this light on the rocky surface and on the shepherds are striking. In this fresco, the shepherds are slowly arousing themselves from their deep sleep, their cattle is still asleep and one of their dogs is already awake, looking distrustfully, but also obediently at the source of the light. There are both quietness to this depiction (especially in comparison to the paintings below) and a sense of conviction: the messanger has come and what he has to say is true. Continue reading “Annunciation to the Shepherds: 3 Artworks”
5 “The Last Supper” Paintings
In past centuries, many artists have depicted the Last Supper scene found in the Gospels. This is a scene where Jesus shares a meal with his Apostles before his crucifixion, making his prophetic announcement. It is very easy to see why it is one of many favourite Biblical scenes to depict. There is a special dynamism to this scene since the Apostles can be presented having their own personalities, and their interaction with each other, their reaction to Jesus’s words, as well as a sense of foreboding, can give a painting a special aura/interest. The interesting thing for many when looking at these paintings is how Judas “The Traitor” is depicted in this scene, and most artists paid special attention to ensure that he stands out from the scene. Below are five “The Last Supper” paintings which I personally find particularly interesting (they are not necessarily the most famous ones).