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The Entombment of Christ

In: Religion Topics

Submitted By muyandiritu
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The entombment of Christ was painted by Caravaggio for the church of Santa Maria, owned by Saint Phillip Neri. The painting is in the counter-reformation style which started roughly around 1520. Italian Art had begun to sink into mannerism by striving for effect and its high sophistication. Pressure from the Catholic Church to put a leash on religious imagery greatly affected Italian art, resulting in decrees concerning religious images during the Council of Trent in the year 1563. This had a significant impact on Church-funded paintings.

Of all paintings done by Caravaggio, this painting is essentially the most monumental. The painting consists of a group of figures and objects that are strictly symmetrical and built up from a stone slab that is jutting from the background in a diagonal alignment. The painting comes from the Chiesa Nuova church altar in Rome and was dedicated to the Pieta. The painting is a lamentation whose focal point is the mourning Mary, mother of Jesus, as well as a secondary event in the descent of Jesus’ corpse from the cross and his entombment. This painting perfectly distinguishes Caravaggio’s work from the Renaissance art, especially in his refusal to portray human beings as heroic, beautiful, and sublime. Instead, Caravaggio preferred to have figures that were bent, stooped, reclining, or cowering. This was in step with the Vatican’s directive to show more human submission to God in their works. Therefore, Caravaggio replaced the statuesque and self confident figures with figures showing subjection and humility to God, in this case, to Jesus himself.

One detail that should be noted in the painting that may seem trivial is that the stone slab appears in the picture with a terrifying power. According to the attitude that one has when viewing this painting, it is possible that one may detect either irreverence in the figures and objects or a profound religious bewilderment as jesus Christ is faced with death. The latter could be because this painting is representative of a sacred event and a unique occasion that lies at the very centre of a fundamental church ritual in a form that is tangible.

Caravaggio took to this style and for the first time in art destroyed the space between the people viewing the art and the event covered in the painting, in this case the entombment of Christ (Gardner & Fred 67). During this period, paintings were required to remove all sorts of superstitions and lasciviousness. Paintings also lacked adornments with beauty to excite lust and everything in it was orderly. The counter-reformation period, as directed by the church, also removed profanity and indecency by ensuring that holiness was observed in the house of God.

Caravaggio’s work, especially the entombment of Christ, were especially striking for their serenity and orderliness, unlike the Last Judgment by Michelangelo that came under attack from the Church (Gardner & Fred 69). This was especially so in the counter-reformation period with its nudity that was later covered by painting over it. Judgment day also contained the Charon, a pagan symbol. These symbols were completely absent during the counter-reformation era. Judgment day was also criticized for not showing a bearded Jesus Christ or a seated Christ, which was required to create orderliness and serenity in the counter-reformation era. Another painting from the reformation era that came under attack was the Last Supper that was criticized for its dwarfs, drunken Germans, and extravagancy.

Madame de Pompadour

The painting of Madame de Pompadour is an embodiment of the high Rococo style of art that shows the madam in a nonchalant demeanor, which symbolized her high standing in society. The painting is also tracing her progression to official mistress from the bourgeoisie and finally to lady-in-waiting. The book, bookcase, and quill all point to a pleasure in correspondence and the arts, which was the norm in French high society at the time. Her pose, which shows her as relaxed and confident, points to her new leisure that, was also associated with French high society.

The rococo style, while initially being prevalent in decorative arts also crept into painting. In this style, artists utilized curving forms, delicate colors, and used love myths and cherubs to decorate their drawing canvases (Gardner & Fred 81). One of the rococo style’s most striking features were its portraiture, showing the subjects in impure or naughty poses. This was a departure form the counter=reformation and Baroque styles as the French begun to move away from state/ church orientation. The French sought more freedom and it is worth noting that this period was leading up to the revolution. Art captured their will to be free from state and church control.

Francois Boucher was greatly influenced by the paintings of jean Antoine Watteau, who can be referred to as the farther of rococo painting. Other painters who painted in the rococo style included Elisabeth Louise’s paintings of Marie Antoinette, which often portrayed her in playfully sensual poses. This painting contrasts heavily with the counter-reformation era painting the entombment of Christ, especially with its extravagance and sensual manner. It marks a clear departure from the formality of the previous era (Gardner & Fred 79).

Chiswick House

The building is in Burlington lane in London and is in the neo-Palladian style. The house’s construction was done in 1729 and designed by William Kent and Lord Burlington. This villa stands as Neo-Palladianism’s finest example ion the city of London. The building is a symbol of Palladian re-emergence, although it did have its variations. Neo-Palladianism placed an emphasis on palace terraces and villas with Palladian windows, pediments, and columns being placed on their façade repeatedly. This varied from Palladio’s rational understanding of architecture.

The Neo-Palladianism style that Cheswick house follows describes architecture that drew on Palladianism rather than church inspired architecture (Honour & John 45). The re-emergence was brought about by many factors. Lord Burlington, after collecting drawings by Palladio assembled a team of talented architects. After Chiswick house, new translations of the writings by Palladio appealed to the British and stimulated a liking for classical buildings. With these architects, he began to cultivate Palladianism in Britain by banishing influences he found Baroque in nature that had dominated British architecture for half a century.

Unlike Palladianism, British Palladianism or Neo-Palladianism moved away form the small and exquisite buildings by the Italians from which they were conceived (Honour & John 46). They became larger than villas and symbolic power centers. This was in contrast to Palladianism villas that were weekend retreats. The Neo-Palladian style put more emphasis on the façade length rather than the wing-supported square houses. In Neo-Palladian style, long houses that often had one room gave the impression that the house was huge.

Work Cited

Gardner, Helen and Fred S Kleiner. Art through the ages : a global history. Wadsworth : Cengage Learning, 2011. Print

Honour, Hugh and John Fleming. A world history of art. London : Laurence King , 2009. Print…...

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