The Image of Christ

Overview

The Image of Christ expresses the view that modern secular audiences can engage with the masterpieces of Christian art at an emotional as well as a purely aesthetic or historical level. This book aims to help the viewer understand these pictures by focusing attention on the purpose for which they were made, and explores what they might have meant to their original viewers.

The authors trace how a recognizable image of Christ evolved, starting with the earliest symbols ...

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Paperback (This is a reissue of a book originally publd in 2000)
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Overview

The Image of Christ expresses the view that modern secular audiences can engage with the masterpieces of Christian art at an emotional as well as a purely aesthetic or historical level. This book aims to help the viewer understand these pictures by focusing attention on the purpose for which they were made, and explores what they might have meant to their original viewers.

The authors trace how a recognizable image of Christ evolved, starting with the earliest symbols and metaphorical images such as the Sheperd, the Lamb and the Vine. They trace the emergence of a "true likeness," emphasizing the importance of the Veronica, the "miraculous portrait" said to have been imprinted on the cloth held out to Jesus on the way to Calvary. They describe how artists conveyed the paradox of Christ's dual nature—human and divine, weak and powerful, victim and victor—in portrayals of his infancy. They also show how images of Christ's suffering during the Passion were intended to convey a cosmic, not just a personal significance. Artists have attempted to put extremes of suffering and despair into an overal context of hope–a vein of hope that runs from the catacombs to Hiroshima and beyond.

These are images that speak, even to those who do not hold Christian beliefs. Artists had to make it clear that in representing the life and death of Jesus they were offering a continuing truth; we the spectators have to become eyewitnesses to an event that matters to us now. As a result, the different moments and aspects of Christ's life become, in the hands of great artists, a reflection of all human experience. The Virgin nursing her son expresses the feelings of love every mother has for her child. Christ mocked in innocence beset by violence. Christ risen and appearing to Mary Magdalene is a universal reaffirmation that love cannot be destroyed by death. Beyond their obvious religious significance, these are paintings that have a universal meaning.   

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Editorial Reviews

Religious Studies Review - Jeremy W. H. Arnold

“Engaging . . .  a novel approach to [a] seemingly familiar subject . . . insightful.”—Jeremy W. H. Arnold, Religious Studies Review 
Library Journal
How to convey the divine through human representation has always been an artistic paradox. For medieval artists, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Messiah, was a subject overflowing with symbolism and passion. In this companion book to a recent exhibition, Seeing Salvation: The Image at Christ, at the National Gallery in London, selected pieces are examined for the evolving approaches medieval artists took with this subject. Finaldi (Discovering the Italian Baroque), a curator at the National Gallery, and contributing authors of equal authority pull together not only a catalog but an exploration of spiritual meaning conveyed by the pieces. Ranging from very early Christian symbols to 20th-century paintings, concepts are conveyed in a conversational text, accompanied by wonderful color illustrations. This book stands independently beside Jaroslav Pelikan s The Illustrated Jesus Through the Centuries (LJ 12/97), which focuses more on theological than artistic development. Highly recommended for most collections. Karen Ellis, Nicholson Memorial Lib. Syst., Garland, TX Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kermode
[A] catalogue of extraordinary splendour.
The London Review of Books
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781857092929
  • Publisher: National Gallery London
  • Publication date: 10/25/2011
  • Edition description: This is a reissue of a book originally publd in 2000
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,410,726
  • Product dimensions: 9.66 (w) x 9.96 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author


Gabriele Finaldi is Deputy Director of the Prado Museum, Madrid, and a former curator ofthe National Gallery, London. Neil MacGregor is Director of the British Museum, London and former director of the National Gallery, London. Susanna Avery-Quash is Research Curator in the History of Collecting at the National Gallery, London. Xavier Bray is Chief Curator at Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, and a former Curator at the National Gallery, London. Erika Langmuir is former Head of Education at the National Gallery, London. Alexander Strugis is Director of The Holburne Museum of Art, Bath.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 6
1 Sign and Symbol 8
2 The Dual Nature 44
3 The True Likeness 74
4 Passion and Compassion 104
5 Praying the Passion 132
6 The Saving Body 168
7 The Abiding Presence 192
Provenance and Bibliography 208
General Bibliography 213
Photographic Credits 219
Lenders 220
Authors' Acknowledgements 221
Index 222
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