On Painted Wings: A gallery by Joseph Hiatt

 This is a gallery of paintings from the late 1500's during the High Renaissance period through the Baroque period up to 1720. All of the paintings featured here will bear similarities in their titles but the content, styles, and locations of where the paintings were created are all different.  I want to give you a side by side comparison of some of  the artists of the period and how they portray their ideas of scripture. 

From the book of Revelation, we get a beautiful and very different take on the fight between the angel's of heaven and hell. Ther figures in the painting are unique for the period, thin and frail looking St. Michael is standing tall in gilded heavenly armor. The rebel angels are a grotesque representation of human, animal, and even plants. What makes this piece truly unique is that during the time of the Renaissance the human form is often derived from the more classical form, here Bruegel departs from the norm of the period and even his own works. This piece is among the most hectic of the upcoming pieces but when you take your time and truly look at this painting you will see the depth of Bruegel's imagination.
Here we get more of a classical representation of the fight between heaven and hell. Michael stands triumphant welding his flaming sword atop a fallen angel sitting on a gilded throne. The use of color in the painting gives a stark contrast between the cherubs watching from the clouds to the deamons falling, hell has cast a red glow on the deamons while the cherubs seem to be bathed in a gilded light from above.
The darker images of hell are in contrast with the shine from St. Micael's shield and the heavenly glow from above. With less going on in this oil on canvas, Ricci Sebastiano gives us another take on the fight from the book of revalations. We see these artists and the paintings that they are commisioned to create but in each we get an individual view of what these stories mean to them.
Almost like a portrait Fransisco Zurbaran shows a different idea of St. Michael. Instead of the glimmering warrior that we usually see St. Michael is more or a regal figure here. With wings outstretched we see the usual garb and ornaments that are attributed to Michael, shield and flaming sword that displays a quote in latin "QVISSICVTDEVS", I had to look it up but the translation is "Who is like God". The simple portrayal of St. Michael here is one that I quite like, the coloring is darker and more like the portraits of kings and dignitaries.
A more classical image of the Archangel, this oil on canvas is a stunning idea of virtue vanquishing the vile disciples of Lucifer. The flames of hell lick at the demons skin while he is cowering under St. Michael, he shields his head from another blow from Michael's head. The use of color in the painting is muted and the brushwork gives the feeling that the work is almost unfinished.
A second painting by Luca Giordano, here we see St. Michael defeating the followers of Lucifer. A halo of light around Michael's head and the glory of his wings are on display. Michael's face has more of a feminine quality than in Giordano's other work and he appears serene, while the faces of the demon's are more masculine and in anguish. I wonder if he is wielding the spear of destiny?
There is something about the people in this painting, they have an almost animated look to them. Maybe it's the coloring, maybe it's the brushwork but whatever it is it's almost detrimental to the entire work. The people in the frame are painted in a way to draw your attention while the rest of the painting looks almost out of focus, the animals in the foreground and the city in the back is less detailed which is different from a lot of the other works of the time. Personally, I really like the fountain of the satyr in the background, it lends to the time when the story takes place and the Israelites were under Roman rule before the church was founded.
A less glorified story of Tobit and the angel Raphael this one is quite different from the previous painting. The people are in awe of the angel as he rushes back the kingdom of heaven. Unlike the previous painting this one if completely detailed the cracks in the books, the grapevines wrapped around the entryway to their home. While the story is one of faith bringing rewards the people seem fearful of the angel as he flys away.
Twisted forms grappling with each other, light shining down from above. Mazzucchelli's use of rich color and shading almost gives a three dimensional effect to the figures fighting. This Old Testament Story of how the Isrealities got their name is a wonderfull sampling of Flemmish art
Quite possibly one of the world's most famous and influential artists in history the final piece in this gallery is from Rembrandt. Rembrandt shows us his idea of Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, in the final moments of the struggle the angel pushes on Jacob's hip. Created in the later part of his life this oil on canvas shows more of the rough style he took on later on in life. The rich color application and rough brushstrokes give this painting not only a rough look, but almost a rough texture.
Credits: All media
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