Religious symbols in Art from Obvious to Vague

By Anna Caitlin Sarah. We wanted to show the transfer of art from obvious symbols to more vague religious symbols. How art changed from icons to secular scenes while still retaining religious meanings.  

Anna Staus This is another highly religious piece. It is done in the byzantine style of art where the images and figures are flat and have no identifying features except for the text, objects, and gestures that are used by the worshiper to distinguish different figures. This piece is somewhat like Cimabue's Christ Enthroned with angels and Prophets because of the gold background and symbolic figures
Again the artist is concerned with the meanings to the worshiper the artist is not concerned with complex meanings just obvious symbols
Anna Staus Madonna and child was still a popular subject in the early Italian Renaissance, however the Madonna starts to become less of a symbol and more like a real everyday person. This is a style that Giotto pioneered an can be seen in his other works such as Christ Enthroned with angels
Now art starts to get a little more ambiguous but they are still recognizable from regular people by the symbols that accompany them. such as the small dove that flies thought the window towards Mary. This is a lot like Robert Campin's Merode Altarpiece where the scene is set in everyday life and the people could be anyone
Again the art starts to get more vague. we can still see that it is a Madonna and child but she starts to look more human. This is similar to Giotto's Madonna Enthroned since she is also getting more human
This is Saint Bartholomew by Pietro di Cristoforo Now that the figures start to look more like real people they need identifiers to show that they are saints and not just everyday people. This saint is shown with a knife and a book. This is similar to the Ghent Altarpiece by Jan van Eyck in its style and use of symbolism.
SARAH ROEHLEN During this period it became more prevalent for religious symbols, figures, and even biblical scenes to take place along with modern Italian life at the time. This painting shows Madonna and child with those who paid for the paintings creation. This concept was also used in the Mérode Altarpiece by Robert Campin (1428).
SARAH ROEHLEN Like the "Butcher's Stall," Aertsen uses Still-life portraits to symbolically reveal religious themes like mortality and temptation with glimpses of religious figures in the background.
Anna Staus This is an example of a seemingly everyday still life with religious undertones. The still life incorporates memento mori objects to remind the viewer of their own mortality. The style is somewhat like Pieter Claesz Vanitas Still Life (1630)
Anna Staus Hans Holbein's painting at first appears to be just a portrait of a merchant. Yet even here there are hidden religious meanings. for example the clear water is a symbol of his pious nature. This is common of Hans Holbein and can be seen in his other works, such as The Ambassadors where almost every article has a meaning that reflects onto the figures
The religious symbolism is more in the action of this figure. He almost appears christ, even with a faint glow around him, almost like he emerged from the river cleansed.
SARAH ROEHLEN This painting focuses on creating a scene from the bible and shows religion as not only the subject of the painting but also in it's "purest" form. Pure in the sense that it remains unattached from modern life at the time. This is similar to Jan Van Eyck's “Ghent Altarpiece” and Matthias Grunewald's “Isenheim Altarpiece” in the sense that religion is represented as an untouchable concept and shown in a very straightforward way.
SARAH ROEHLEN Like "The Annunciation" Georges de la Tour painted a biblical scene with no connection with modern life. But unlike the last, he uses deeper forms of symbolism to evoke mood and atmosphere to help express the moment. An example would be the dim light which seems to be God's forgiveness toward the sinner. This painting's raw image of religious figure and scene reflects Caravaggios “Calling of Saint Matthew" (1600 Italy).
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