Christ’s Teachings through Art

Hi everyone! As we are in the season of Lent, I wanted to continue talking about artworks that reflect on Christ’s time before his Passion. Religion has often impacted the way many artworks have been created in many different countries, and that is why I wanted to discuss some crucial artworks from the Baroque era. I found two artworks that handle the subject matter of some of Christ’s teaching during his three years of ministry.

The first painting was created by El Greco in 1570. It is called Christ Healing the Blind.

El Greco, Christ Healing the Blind, 1570.
Image from the MET

This is an oil painting that depicts the scene when Christ healed the a blind individual as part of his mission. There are three different accounts on this scene, but in all three of these we know that Christ touched the eyes of the blind (in Matthew’s Gospel Christ touched the man’s eyes with his hands, in Mark’s Gospel with spit, and in John’s Gospel with mud and spit). Christ, here, is in the motion of touching the blind man’s eyes, and the man will soon regain his vision.

It is believed that the two figures in the foreground are the parents of blind individual Christ is healing. Here, El Greco decided to create an entire setting rather than focusing primarily on Christ and the man. In the background, we can see Roman architecture, which is accurate for this time period both in the story of Christ and in the way Baroque artists created artwork. On the right, we see a group of people behind someone who is turned away from us. This individual is pointing towards Christ, so he may be one of the Apostles showing and/or preaching to the crowd Christ’s miracle work. On the the left, we also see a crowd of people behind a turned figure; however, this figure is pointing to something we cannot see.

The second painting was created by Bernardino Mei around 1655, and it is called Christ Cleansing the Temple.

Bernardino Mei, Christ Cleansing the Temple, 1655
Image from J. Paul Getty Museum

Here, we are depicted with the scene of Christ after he has entered the Temple of Jerusalem. Upon his entrance, Christ was appalled with what the Temple had become. Rather than a place of praise, the Temple became a place where people sold stuff and focused on money rather than on God. This is one of the most intense scenes in the teaching of Christ, because much of Christ’s preaches were calm, but here we see that Christ was furious.

In the painting, Mei made the figures half length, and Christ consumes the painting. Here, Christ is carrying a whip and anger inflames his face. He is holding onto an elder woman, who is scared. Everyone behind Christ seems disoriented, and they appear like they do not know what is happening or what they should do. We see the evidence of people worried and consumed with money with the man in the left, who is closely counting his money.

Feature Image from Wikipedia

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