Holy Light by Jennifer Steger

This gallery aims to showcase the use of hues, shading, and saturation in order to contrast the difference between regular light and the holy light in religious artwork. In many of the pieces I am showing, there is a distinct difference between dark and light, where the light represents Christ, God, Heaven, or just good triumphing over evil. 

This painting by John Martin depicts Judgement Day. In the center of the image is God sitting on his throne, banishing Satan and the sinners to the pit in the bottom. On the left are the people who have been saved and are awaiting entry to Heaven. This painting uses contrast to show the difference between the black bottomless pit and the bright lights in Heaven and around God. As you can see, the sinners are painted with lots of shadows, while Martin used a lot of tints in the upper portion to represent good. This draws the focus of the viewer towards Heaven, and away from the evil below.
This painting by Miguel Cabrera depicts the battle between good and evil. The Virgin shields Christ from the beast, while stepping on one of its heads.Saint Michael battles the beast on the left hand side, and the Eternal Father touches the Virgin's wings in a symbol of protection. On the right side angels flutter around, while Saint John watches from the ground. This painting uses value to add to the battle of good and evil. As you can see on the left, the beast and the battle area is heavily shaded while the right side is lighter with more tint. Behind the Virgin radiates a bright hue of golden yellow, representing good. This is a great use of contrast, and once again, shows emphasis on the good instead of the evil.
In this painting by Geertgen tot Sint Jans, the Virgin cradles Christ, while a demon tries to attack her from below. Circling around her are angels, granting protection from the evil that lurks below. In this painting, the artist uses a high saturation of yellows to represent the light radiating from the Virgin. This work also has a very high contrast, not so much between good and evil, but between the main subject of the painting and the supporting subjects that circle her. The Virgin and Christ, surrounded by bright light and very little shading, contrasts highly from the angels around them that are heavily shaded. This allows the viewer to focus on the center of the art, then slowly flow outwards to the supporting details.
This painting by Leandro Bassano depicts the Judgement Day. On the top you see Christ descending. On the left are the souls that will be saved, while in the bottom right corner, sinners are sent to Hell, where demons await them. The artist uses high contrast in this painting to represent the demons and the humans. The demons are depicted with darker skin tones, surrounded by a darker background, while the humans are lighter, with more tint and brighter colors. Christ is surrounded by a very saturated golden yellow, with light beams shining around him. The artists also uses variety to guide the viewers' eyes throughout the entirety of the canvas. There is a lot going on in this painting, and to get the point, one must view all the figures.
In this painting by Pieter Lastman, Christ is resurrected. And angel lifts the lid off his tomb, and the guards faint in terror or awe. Christ is seen ascending into Heaven in the upper left corner, where angels greet him. This painting demonstrates a strong use of highly saturated colors, and a very strong contrast. The bright lights of Christ's halo, along with the light of Heaven, illuminate the scene below. The rest of the painting is dark and very strongly shaded, which creates a great contrast with the bright, holy section. The use of similar colors and similar tints and shades gives this painting unity.
This painting, by Arent de Gelder, depicts Jacob's dream of a ladder where angels come and go from Heaven. You can see Jacob in the lower left corner, asleep on a rock in what appears to be a rough landscape. There are two angels in the upper right, one of which is descending towards earth while a be a, of light shines down upon Jacob. This painting is a strong example of both contrast and value. The majority of the picture is dark and shaded, while Jacob is illuminated by the bright light of Heaven. The angels are brightly lit as well as. The painter uses very highly saturated yellows and whites to create the clouds parting and Heaven's light shining through. This allows the viewer's focus to be shifted back and forth between the angels and Jacob, while not paying much attention to the background.
This painting by Rembrandt van Rijn shows Saint Peter in a prison cell. The keys to Heaven are on the ground beside him, and it is suggested that the light that illuminates him is the heavenly light from the Angel of God. The painter uses very high contrast between the shadows and the light in this painting. There is also a very high saturation of yellow for the light, which adds emphasis the the painting as well. The lighting urges the viewer to focus on the expression on St. Peter's face.
This painting by Thomas Cole shows Adam and Eve being kicked out of Eden for eating the forbidden fruit. You can see paradise on the right side of the painting, and on the left you see a rough looking barren land. In the center you se a bright flash of light behind the two, symbolizing God and his power. Thomas Cole uses many different forms of contrast in this image. Paradise is very brightly lit, with hues of yellows and whites to illuminate the scene. On the left side, the rough landscape is heavily shaded, with the only light coming from the garden. This use of value adds to the contrast of the painting. Also, the high saturation of the flash of light is used to symbolize a very bright light. The use of the bright light add emphasis on the Garden of Eden and good in this painting.
This painting by Joan Gascó shows the face of Jesus Christ with the crown of thorns and the chain around his neck. In this painting, the artist uses high saturated yellows to represent the light on Christ's face. The painting has high contrast as well, which adds depth and emotion to the face. The very intricate halo guides viewers's eyes to meet Christ's eyes, bring emphasis to the center of the painting.
This painting by Luis Juárez shows the Archangel Gabriel who tells Mary that she has been chosen to give birth to Jesus. You can see God in the upper left hand corner. The Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, descends into the scene behind Gabriel.This painting is a prime example of saturation and value. Heaven, God, and the dove are all very highly saturated with color. This represents the holy light and the dove is the most lit, as it represents the Holy Spirit. Light radiates from the dove, which illuminates the scene. There is a use of more tint than there is shade, and the painting has a decent amount of contrast between light and dark.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.