Spirituality of Art - Renaissance vs Impressionists

I find it so ironic that renaissance artists were so often tasked with painting scenes from the bible — in essence, to glorify a religious message.

And yet, most of these artists were painting for patrons who were generally aristocrats, kings, dukes, princes, banking families, and other higher class families. Meaning that the scenes which were supposed to be created as stories for the appreciation of the every day viewer — actually tended to become much more richly decorated and extravagant affairs. A world away from the life that most people of that time knew.

Filippino Lippi — Madonna with Christ Child and Saints — 1488

Whereas, hundreds of years later, when we reach the time of the impressionists and post impressionists; the art became much less overtly religious.

Here, we see artists focusing on much more modest subjects. Gardens. Landscapes. Café life. Every day people out on the streets. Sewers. Farmers. Theatre goers.

But, in portraying the realities of every day life like this, the impressionists actually unintentionally stray towards a certain spirituality too.

And, in some senses, perhaps they capture the essence of the spirituality in a way that goes even further than our renaissance painters.

Because in the modesty and purity of their expression - the underlying message in many impressionist pictures is that the persecuted really are our prophets

The kingdom of Heaven really can be found here — in the simplest of sights

And it really is the poor and the meek who will one day inherit the earth

Camille Pissarro - The Little country Maid - 1882

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