religion and science

Introduction: This gallery reveals how artists reflect the evolution of people's perspective of science and religion. Overall, art reveals the human need to give abstract ideas, such as religion and science, human qualities in order to make them more comprehendible. For example, the gallery begins with a triptych from the Northern Renaissance that reflects how artists mixed secular and religious themes. While this a symbol of religion being an integral part of Flemish life, through insistent detail, it is also a symbol of peoples' concrete view of religion. This concrete view of religion is then taken a step further in the Baroque period in which religious scenes are given a gritty naturalism. The grittiness of the scene makes the scene more relatable to the average viewer while also making the scenes appear as though the religious experience could simply be an everyday occurrence. As the Counter-Reformation began to lose momentum, less religious images were commissioned due to the Protestant belief any depiction of a religious scene was iconography. This allowed for religion to take on a more mystic perspective, developing a new idea that religion is too complex for people to truly understand. As religious scenes became less and less common in art, science began to take on a role similar to religion with earlier technique of anthropomorphizing abstract concepts in order to make them more comprehendible. Though the art was depicting science, the artwork was very similar to the art that had been portrayed in religious scenes earlier. Science had a very similar role as religion and was even being used to prove religion. However, during the Enlightenment, religion and science became less compatible and went their separate ways. Science began to take on the same role as religion initially had taken on in Caravaggio's work. In the end, religion starts out concrete and then takes on a more mystic approach as it disappears form art, while science becomes more concrete as it becomes more common in art. Overall, this gallery reveals how art demonstrates the relationship between religion and science from the time of the Northern Renaissance to the Enlightenment era.

ROBERT CAMPIN--Merode Altarpiece The Merode Altarpiece is a depiction of the annunciation. However, what is abnormal about this depiction is it being portrayed in what was then, modern day Flanders. The clothing, architecture, and portraits of the commissioners all reveal the time period of the painting. Through the detail of the painting, the religious scene is given a concrete element, as though it is a record from history. The detail of the scenery as well as the color and shadowing portray the event as actually occurring. However, the commissioner being portrayed outside the scene in order to respect the sacred event still leaves a sense of mysticism beyond human comprehension.

CARAVAGGIO--Sacrifice of Isaac Caravaggio's Sacrifice of Isaac takes the naturalism of the Merode Altarpiece to the next level. The realism not only makes the painting appear as though it is a record of history, but a common, everyday scene. The realism is created through technique while the plausibility is created by the grittiness of the scene. For example, the painting's grittiness is caused by the dark contrast of light and lack of prestigious appearance of the figures. Plausibility is also caused by the ram mindlessly staring at Abraham while the angel is speaking as though it is unaware the angel is there at all. This creates the idea that spiritual experiences are events that could be experienced frequently all around without people realizing because it leaves the witnesses blissfully unaware. In my opinion, compared to other religious scenes, the grittiness and lack of awareness in the scene is most accurate depiction of human reaction if the scene were to actually occur.

GIJSBRECHTS--Trompe I'oeil with Studio Wall and Vanitas Still Life After the Protestant Reformation, religious paintings became less common. This was due to the Protestant belief any artwork of a religious scene was an icon. While Protestants argued against icons simply because of the story of Moses, icons also inadvertently caused literal, tangible interpretations of religion. Icons caused for there to no longer be a grey area in religion. People believed the events simply occurred just the artwork had portrayed them. Therefore, instead of painting religious scenes, artists began to display the beauty of inanimate objects, such as Gijsbrecht's painting, as a form of prestige. However, the display of consumer goods was construed by some as boastful and against Calvinist faith. Therefore, there is a reminder of mortality through the skull in the painting. The overall message becomes that the only thing certain life and religion was the inevitability of death.

GERARD DE LAIRESSE--Allegory of the Sciences Due to Greco-Roman influences of the art work, the relief is very comparable to work from the high Renaissance. However, instead of a religious scene, which was typical in Italian Renaissance, the artwork, it is an allegory of science. At the time, science was being used as a tool to further religion. Due to lack of religious imagery, science was, in a way, used merely as a placeholder. One could even argue science is being anthropomorphized in the artwork just as the Christian god typically is. Since science is essentially perceived as a part of religion, the artwork could arguably be another religious image. However, since science is not as strong of an influence as religion was during the time, it is not portrayed as a concrete of an event in history as in Caravaggio's religious scenes.

THOMAS EAKINS--The Gross Clinic With Darwin's theory of evolution during the Enlightenment, any scientific evidence that could be used to "prove" biblical stories was no longer relevant. This Gross Clinic reveals people's new faith in science as being able to further and enhance life. Science and religion went separate directions and science became its own concrete entity, just as religion had been in the past. When religion was no longer concrete, science was simply used to replace it. Just as Caravaggio, Thomas Eakins looked to reveal the realities of the human experience. Once again there is realism is created through technique and the use of tenebrism. Though it is irrelevant whether the scene in the painting has occurred, it is portrayed again as a historical event. Ultimately, this artwork is a perfect example of the human need to find concrete answers.

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.
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