Religious Paintings in Spanish Art

Religious Paintings in Spanish Art

Religious paintings were a common genre in European art till the early 20th century. This is especially evident in the works of Spanish artists, which were strongly influenced by the Catholic Church. The crown absolutism and the power of the Church held Spain in the rules, through which refracted all European political, economic, and social processes. Certain isolation in the country impacted the creativity of its artists. Their works were very original and gorgeous, and their religious paintings were imbued with pain and revelation.

Religious paintings in works of Spanish artists

The 16th-17th centuries showed the world what the real Spanish genius is. This period in Spanish history is full of names of outstanding artists. Each of them turned to the subject of religious topics in a personal way.

The Agony in the Garden, El Greko, 1605 

The Agony in the Garden, or La Oracion del Huerto (pictured), is a widespread subject in the Christian iconography, which was described in the Gospel. This topic was considered by El Greko a few times in his work. The artist saw drama in Christ`s appeal to God in the garden of Gethsemane before the imminent Crucifixion. The painter showed a sense of hopelessness in the dark colors of the background, in the humble figure of the angel, and in the contrast of the smooth and sharp lines. The division of a composition into separate scenes increases the sense of the tragedy in the work. There are the scenes of peaceful dreaming of the apostles, the spiritual anguish of Christ, and the scene in the background, which alludes to future torments.

The Martyrdom of Saint Philip, Jusepe de Ribera, 1639

Religious paintings accounted for a significant proportion of Jusepe de Ribera’s art. Lots of his works were under the impact of Caravaggio’s paintings. However, The Martyrdom of Saint Philip, or Martirio de San Felipe, was in contrast to his other works. There are still color contrasts in the painting, but there are no darkness and strain. The Martyrdom of Saint Philip depicts preparatory work before the crucifixion of one of Christ’s apostles during his sermon in Hierapolis. Angle upwards stresses figures` monumentality and the importance of developments. The gaze of the saint reflects the controversial feelings: humility, pain, questioning, misunderstanding, and acceptance.

Religious paintings in Spanish art are whole about contradiction, insights, and contrasts. Probably, Spain is the only country where the Christian themes are displayed with such strength of mind and expressiveness.