To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of Asaph. A Song. In Judah God is known; his name is great in Israel. His abode has been established in Salem, his dwelling place in Zion. There he broke the flashing arrows, the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war. Selah Glorious are you, more majestic than the mountains of prey. The stouthearted were stripped of their spoil; they sank into sleep; all the men of war were unable to use their hands. ...

In short, the sole purpose of Counter-Reformation art was to glorify God and Catholic traditions, and promote the sacraments and the saints. Thus Michelangelo's Last Judgment fresco in the Sistine Chapel was heavily criticized for its nudity, for showing Jesus without a beard, and for including the pagan character of Charon. Paolo Veronese's painting The Last Supper was (not unreasonably) attacked for including extravagant costumes, drunken Germans and dwarfs along with a huge crowd of people. In fact, Veronese simply side-stepped the issue by renaming the picture Feast in the House of Levi. Christian Gifts


The house that I am to build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. But who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him? Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to make offerings before him? So now send me a man skilled to work in gold, silver, bronze, and iron, and in purple, crimson, and blue fabrics, trained also in engraving, to be with the skilled workers who are with me in Judah and Jerusalem, whom David my father provided.

Christian art of the 14th century, the pre-Renaissance era, was dominated by Giotto - see the Scrovegni (Arena) Chapel Frescoes (c.1303-10) - and Duccio de Buoninsegna (1255-1318) - see the celebrated polyptych for Siena Cathedral, known as the Maesta Altarpiece (1308-11). After this came the Early Renaissance in Florence, exemplified by the city's duomo - for more, see: Florence Cathedral, Brunelleschi and the Renaissance (1420-36) - Masaccio (Brancacci Chapel frescoes) and Donatello (statue of David). If 15th century Christian art was dominated by Florence, the centre of 16th century Christian art was Rome, where the greatest patrons were Pope Sixtus IV (1471-84), Pope Julius II (1503-13), Pope Leo X (1513-21) and Pope Paul III (1534-49). Christian Canvas Art
Since the advent of printing, the sale of reproductions of pious works has been a major element of popular Christian culture. In the 19th century, this included genre painters such as Mihály Munkácsy. The invention of color lithography led to broad circulation of holy cards. In the modern era, companies specializing in modern commercial Christian artists such as Thomas Blackshear and Thomas Kinkade, although widely regarded in the fine art world as kitsch,[4] have been very successful.

Protestantism taught a low-key, personal form of worship that focused on the direct relationship between God and man, without making a fuss about go-betweens like Popes, Bishops and other church employees. It also placed little or no importance on decorative or ceremonial aspects of religion. Because of all this, Protestant art favoured low-key moralistic depictions of ordinary day-to-day life, or simple narrative scenes from the Bible, rather than dramatic theological scenes involving the Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ. Other acceptable scenes included depictions of sinners forgiven by Christ, in line with the Protestant view that salvation is only possible through the grace of God. Protestant art also tended to be smaller-scale than Catholic art, reflecting a more modest, personal approach to religion. For the same reason, book illustration and prints became more popular, while Catholic paintings and sculptures became the object of physical iconclastic attacks, as exemplified by the beeldenstorm, an episode of mob destruction which broke out in 1556. But Protestant church authorities were equally aware of the power of art to educate and influence worshippers. As a result they made maximum use of various forms of printmaking, which allowed images to be made widely available to the public at a very low cost.
Medieval Christian art on the Continent followed similar paths, albeit a little later. Carolingian art (c.750-900), for instance, (the culture of the Frankish kingdom of Charlemagne I) was inspired by Byzantine rather than Irish models. Monastic scriptoria at Aachen, Paris, Reims, Metz and Tours produced beautiful examples of medieval painting like the Godescalc Evangelistary (c.783), the Utrecht Psalter (c.830) and the Grandval Bible (c.840). Carolingian cuture was followed by Ottonian art, under the Holy Roman Emperors Otto I, II and III (900-1050). Inspired by Carolingian techniques as well as Byzantine elements - like the use of gold leaf - Ottonian art was famous for its lavishly decorated manuscripts, including the Perikpenbuch of Henry II (c.1010), the Bamberg Apocalypse (c.1020), the Hitda-Codex (c.1025) and the Codex Aureus Epternacensis (c.1053). See also: German Medieval Art (c.800-1250). Christian Gifts
Since its beginnings during the first century of the Roman Empire, Christianity has spread around the world to become the principal religion, value-system, and social agenda of mankind: at least until the 20th century. Run first by Christ and the Apostles, it gradually gave birth to its own hierarchical organization, the Christian Church, which over time became the largest and most influential patron of the arts. Indeed, from the outset, the Christian Church used many different types of art in order to create an identity for itself, increase its power and thus attract worshippers. In the process it developed its own Christian iconography, relying heavily on architecture (cathedrals, churches, monasteries), sculpture (statues of the Holy Family, as well as prophets, apostles, saints), painting (altarpieces, church murals), decorative art (stained glass, mosaics) and illuminated manuscripts (Gospels, psalters). In fact, during the early 16th century, the Church commissioned so much Biblical art - using money raised through higher taxes, and the 'sale' of benefices and indulgences - that it led to widespread protests: protests that coalesced into the Reformation, and the division of the Church into Roman Catholic and Protestant. Even so, one can say that, in the West at least, the history of art is the history of Christian art. Christian Canvas Art

So-called Northern Renaissance art (c.1430-1580) was dominated by the school of Flemish Painting, part of the broader movement of the Netherlandish Renaissance. In simple terms, the Northern Renaissance started with a bang, rapidly establishing itself as the foremost school of oil painting, and thereafter gradually declined. The altarpiece art of painters like Jan van Eyck (see his Ghent Altarpiece, 1432) and Roger van der Weyden (Descent from the Cross, 1440), as well as the unbelievably intricate works of Hugo van der Goes (Portinari Altarpiece, 1475), were rarely equalled, except by the extraordinary visionary pictures of Hieronymus Bosch - see Garden of Earthly Delights and Haywain Triptych - (avidly collected by the austere Catholic monarch Philip II of Spain), and the complex genre paintings of Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Census of Bethlehem, 1566; Massacre of the Innocents, 1564; Parable of the Blind, 1568). Share Your Faith Products
Until the legalization of Christianity in 313, early Christian art was relatively scarce. It included fresco painting on the walls of some of the catacombs (burial sites outside the city walls), and "house-church" meeting places; a number of simple architectural designs for structures (martyrium) erected over the graves of martyrs; and a number of sarcophagi, carved with various emblems or reliefs of Jesus, Mary and other biblical figures. In these early times, when Christians were still being persecuted, most Christian Roman art remained (literally) part of an underground culture. What's more, Christianity (along with the imagery used to symbolize or illustrate it) was still evolving from a secret society (whose images were intelligible only to the initiated few) to a public organization (whose imagery was understood by all). Thus, to begin with, Christian painting and, in particular, early Christian sculpture used motifs from both Roman and Greek art: the image of "Christ in Majesty", for instance, derives from both Roman Imperial portraits and portrayals of the Greek God Zeus. It took centuries for Christian iconography to be standardized, and to harmonize with Biblical texts. Christian Wall Art
Towards the end of the Gothic era, there emerged a rich style of art, among the royal courts of Europe, that acted as a kind of bridge between Gothic and Renaissance culture. Known as International Gothic (c.1375-1450), this style was exemplified by a range of Christian illuminations which reached their peak in works like Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (1416) by the Limbourg Brothers (all died of plague, 1416); the Hours of the Marechal de Boucicaut, by Jacquemart de Hesdin (c.1355-1414), and The Missal of Jean des Martins by Enguerrand de Charenton (Quarton) (c.1410-1466). Christian Gifts
And King Solomon sent and brought Hiram from Tyre. He was the son of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in bronze. And he was full of wisdom, understanding, and skill for making any work in bronze. He came to King Solomon and did all his work. He cast two pillars of bronze. Eighteen cubits was the height of one pillar, and a line of twelve cubits measured its circumference. It was hollow, and its thickness was four fingers. The second pillar was the same. He also made two capitals of cast bronze to set on the tops of the pillars. The height of the one capital was five cubits, and the height of the other capital was five cubits. There were lattices of checker work with wreaths of chain work for the capitals on the tops of the pillars, a lattice for the one capital and a lattice for the other capital. ...
Mosaic art was the most important feature of Byzantine art for almost a thousand years: comparable with sculpture in Ancient Greece, the painted panel of the Northern Renaissance, or the altarpiece in 16th century Venice. Shimmering in the candlelight and sometimes decorated in gold leaf, these exquisite glass jigsaws were governed by rigid rules as to colour, size and composition, mosaics had two key aims: to beautify the house of the Lord (and overawe the spectator), and to educate illiterate worshippers in the Gospel story. The individual mosaic pieces (tesserae) were often deliberately set unevenly, to create movement of light and colour. Share Your Faith Products
For the last 5 years, the in-house design team at the Faithlife Corporation has illustrated one Bible verse every day. This art has found its way onto t-shirts, magnets, and postcards—and now, a beautiful picture book. In print for the first time, art from Faithlife's Verse of the Day series paired with uplifting devotionals will encourage and inspire you. Christian Wall Art
Late Gothic sculptors, based in Germany during the 15th and early 16th century, produced a burst of exquisite Christian wood-carving in a series of spectacular triptych altarpieces, never since equalled. Noted for the emotion of their expressionist figures, These master carvers included Michael Pacher (1435-98), Veit Stoss (c.1447-1533), Tilman Riemenschneider (c.1460-1531) and Gregor Erhart (c.1460-1540). See: German Gothic Art (c.1200-1450).

Flemish realism and precision is also evident in the work of German painters such as Stephan Lochner (The Last Judgement, 1440s), Lucas Cranach the Elder (Adam and Eve, 1528), Hans Baldung Grien (Altar of the Virgin Mary [The Freiburg Altarpiece], 1514), and Hans Holbein the Elder (Scenes from the Passion of Christ [The Kasheim Altarpiece], 1502). Other German masters include the expressionist Matthias Grunewald (Isenheim Altarpiece, 1510-15) and the versatile printmaker and painter Albrecht Durer (The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, 1498, woodcut), and Martin Schongauer (Madonna in the Rose Garden, 1473).


A third type of Christian art which appeared in Ireland during the Middle Ages was High Cross Sculpture (c.750-1150 CE). Consisting of different-sized monuments, all based on the standard design of the Celtic-Cross. Decorated either with abstract patterns or narrative scenes from the bible (rarely both), these monuments constitute the most important set of free-standing sculpture produced between the fall of Rome (c.450) and the start of the Italian Renaissance (c.1400). Christian Gifts
The Catholic Church launched the Counter-Reformation to fight for the hearts and minds of those Christians who had 'gone over' to Protestantism. To this end, the Society of Jesus (Societas Jesu) - founded by S. Ignatius Loyola and commonly known as the Jesuits - was formally established in 1540 by Pope Paul III, as an important teaching body and missionary order. Jesuit art was suitably inspirational. First, the architect Giacomo Barozzi (Vignola) was commissioned to design a church for the new order - The Church of the Holy Name of Jesus (Il Gesu) (1568-73) - for which the Baroque painter Giovanni Battista Gaulli painted the fabulous trompe l'oeil ceiling frescoes. Another Jesuit church, the San Ignazio, was the setting for what is arguably the greatest example of quadratura painting ever created - The Triumph and Apotheosis of St Ignatius of Loyola (1691-4) by Andrea Pozzo. There exists no greater exemplar of Counter-Reformation painting, and no better example of the differences between Protestant and Catholic art. Christian Wall Art
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