This art exhibit seeks to show some of the subtlties of the Cathoilic faith in art, specificly French and Dutch art work in the 15th century. Art is the medium for many different aspects of life, depending on what the artist is trying to portray to his or her viewers. Faith is often a topic of choice for artists due to the density of its core. There are paintings that provide strong symbolism of faith that the average person may not be able to idenitify at first glance, yet others focus on one core symbol of faith. The insperation for this exhibit comes from a piece of art that provides strong symbolism of the Catholic faith, Vermeer’s Allegory of the Catholic Faith. Vermeer displays multiple aspects of the Catholic faith in this master piece that have set the tone for the story of Christ’s story of Redemtion. Each one of the works of art included in this exhibition displays a different aspect of Christ’s life and what it points towards. The exhibit will start with Vermeer’s Allegory of the Cathoilc Faith, discribing the key aspects of the faith that he incorperated in his piece, in order to inspire this exhibition. then it will spiril through Christs life, the formation of the Catholic Faith that Vermeer cites in his own painting. Each painting brings out the best in the other paintings highlighting the key elements representing the Cathoic fatih.
Allegory of the Catholic Faith
Johannes Vermeer, ca. 1670–72, Oil on canvas, 32.100.18
Vermeer was a very well known artist in the Netherlands, but not many of his paintings featured religion, making this Allegory significant. Within this painting He captures a few different key aspects of the Catholic faith. This includes the garden and promise of the serpents doom, the crucifixion of Christ, the Eucharist, and the Catholic Church’s presence in the world. These core aspects of the Catholic faith have inspired an exhibition of the story or Christ’s life, the life that was, is and is to come, the life that the Catholic church is rooted in. Each one of the paintings in the room with Vermeer’s Allegory of the Catholic Faith highlights different aspects of Vermeer’s brilliance.
The Rebuke of Adam and Eve
Charles Joseph Natoire, 1740, Oil on copper, 1987.279
Natoire paints the scene of Adam and Eve being caught by God in the act of sin. This act marked the beginning of the need of a savoir, the day that man was no longer in God’s presence. Natoire captures the power of God that Vermeer shows in his Catholic woman. The two paintings can be compared in the way that the man is helpless without God, without the love of God. The plea that Adam has on his face is similar to that of the lady Catholic and the women in the painting on the wall of Vermeer’s painting. This scene of mans fall brings the curse to human kind that gives man the need for a religion such as Catholicism.
Philippe de Champaigne, ca. 1644, Oil on wood, 2004.31
The Annunciation. This painting captures the moment where God sent the angel Greible to the Virgin Mary. She was promised a son to be names Emanuel, meaning God with us. Champaigne is showing the viewer the beginning of the life of Christ, the promised sacrifice for God’s people. Looking back to Vermeer’s Allegory of the Catholic Faith, these two paintings are similar in color and style. The two paintings highlight one another, without the action happening in Champaigne’s painting Vermeer would have no reason or basis to paint on the subject of Catholicism. Christ’s promised Birth is Necessary for Vermeer.
Christ and the Woman of Samaria
Pierre Mignard, 1681, Oil on canvas, North Carolina Museum Of Art
Then Jesus began his ministry, the story of Redemption continues through the life of Christ. Mignard displays Christ ministering to the woman of Samaria, offering her the living water. Through Christ sharing and displaying the Gospel, his fathers word Vermeer was able to paint the Catholic Church covering the Globe. It was Christ’s ministry and the disciples after him that grew the church to immeasurable sizes. Mignard is showing the love of the Catholic Church through God’s Perfect son in relation to the brokenness of the Samaritan woman.
Saints Peter and John Healing the Lame Man
Nicolas Poussin, 1655, Oil on canvas, 24.45.2
Here the Ministry continues with Christ’s disciples, a few of the saints of the Catholic Church. Saint Peter and John are healing the lame man in front of the temple, not merely healing his body but also his soul. These men are two of the saints that the Catholic Church look to in prayer and in example of how to live their daily lives. Vermeer would have known who both Peter and John were and possibly prayed through them on a regular basis seeing that they are two of the most famous saints. This piece of art fits well in the story of redemption because even after Christ would be gone from this earth his people would continue to share the gospel. Poussin Captures this scene very well, in a way that helps the viewer see more of the intended symbolism in each painting.
Jacob Jordaens, 1622, Oil on Canvas, Wikiart
Through his death we have life. This painting not only comes next in the progression of the redemptive story but it holds greater value to Vermeer and his Allegory to the Catholic Faith. Look at Vermeer’s painting once again and you will notice this is the painting he copied in the background of his painting. This was the painting he chose to use to capture the death of Christ on the Cross. Jordaen’s painting captures the crucifixion of Christ, the grief of those close to him and the promise from God, that he would give up his Son for the world’s sins.
The Last Supper
Netherlandish painters, 1515–20, Oil on wood, 17.190.18a–c
Finally the Last Supper, Christ and his disciples sit around a table to eat and drink the Eucharist. This resembles Vermeer’s painting because he pictures the Eucharist ready to eat and drink on the table next to the woman. The Eucharist is a meal, a taste of the feast Christians are to have with God, in heaven. This painting comes last because this meal points towards full redemption with Christ in heaven. This is what the Catholic Church looks to every mass.