Many Christian paintings were created in the 10th century, especially during the Renaissance. Most of them were commissioned work. Therefore, it was seen as an honor to be chosen to create a Christian painting.
Some of these Christian paintings are true works of art and have become very famous. Some of the best-known paintings in the world are also Christian paintings. Raphael’s “The Transfiguration” and Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” are excellent examples.
In this article, we’ll look at 5 of the most famous Christian paintings and share some exciting but not always commonly known information.
Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper
“The Last Supper” is a mural painting by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). He was an Italian High Renaissance artist. The painting depicts the Last Supper of Jesus with his 12 disciples as it is told in the Gospel of John. Da Vinci’s use of space and the perspective of human emotion have made “The Last Supper” one of the most recognizable Christian paintings in the Western world.
Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, commissioned the artwork. Leonardo worked for more than three years on this mural. Because he often made alterations, it was painted with materials that allowed regular changes. However, the paints used were not ideal for the influence of environmental factors. As a result, little of the original painting remains on the wall today, despite numerous restoration attempts.
Fortunately, at least two early copies of “The Last Supper” exist. The copies are almost the original size and show the original mural’s detail.
Rembrandt van Rijn’s Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee
“Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee” is a painting by Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) in vertical format. It depicts Christ’s disciples struggling on their boat against the heavy storm. The sail has been ripped by a vast wave beating the bow.
The disciples are panicking, and one is vomiting over the side. The disciple looking directly out at the viewer is a self-portrait of Rembrandt. Only Christ is depicted as being calm. The painting is in portrait format, and the boat, tilting forward, is taken up by the central motif, which is the disciples struggling against the storm.
Interestingly, this painting was housed in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum but was stolen with 12 other artworks in 1990 during the most significant art theft in U.S. history. The heist remains unsolved, and the painting is still missing.
Carl Heinrich Bloch’s Christ at Gethsemane I
Carl Heinrich Bloch’s “Christ at Gethsemane I” is a famous religious painting. It depicts the agony of Christ before his arrest in the garden of Gethsemane.
Bloch was a Danish painter who became intrigued by the works of Rembrandt. He surrounded himself with works of the Renaissance masters and became a significant influencer of European painters of the time. He developed techniques that would form the basis of many biblical paintings.
A Danish entrepreneur commissioned him to paint 23 new works for a special royal chamber in the Frederiksborg Castle Chapel that had been restored after a fire. He agreed to depict faithful reproductions from the life of Christ. Bloch spent 14 years on this prestigious commission.
For inspiration, he often returned to the works of Rembrandt. Art scholars agree that the intimacy depicted in Bloch’s “Christ at Gethsemane I” results from Rembrandt’s influences. In his “Christ at Gethsemane, I,” the passion for the Christian art genre can be seen.
Raphael’s The Transfiguration
Raphael worked on this painting from 1516 until he died in 1520. “The Transfiguration” was the last painting he worked on. The work was commissioned by Cardinal Giulio de Medici, who later became Pope Clement VII.
This painting has been regarded by many art historians and commentators from the late 16th century until today as the most famous oil painting in the world. In addition, it is one of the most famous biblical paintings ever created.
Raphael combined two themes in this extraordinary painting. First, he combined a depiction of the transfiguration of Jesus with a depiction of the healing of a possessed boy in the lower part of the painting. The combination of Jesus’ transfiguration with another theme was unheard of during the 1400s.
Art scholars believe that Raphael’s pupil, Giulio Romano, and his assistant, Gianfrancesco Penni, painted some of the background figures in the lower right half of the painting. However, there is no evidence of that. Cleaning the painting in the 1970s revealed that assistants might have finished some of the lower left figures but that all the rest of the painting was done by Raphael himself.
Caravaggio’s Conversion of St. Paul
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, better known only as Caravaggio, was an Italian painter who worked in Rome for most of his art career. The “Conversion of Saint Paul” is one of at least two Caravaggio paintings with Paul’s conversion as the subject and is an actual work of art.
The painting was commissioned by Monsignor Tiberio Cerasi, who later became a Cardinal. He was the Treasurer-General to Pope Clement VIII. According to one of Caravaggio’s biographers, the painting was rejected by Cerasi to be replaced by a second version. However, today most art scholars accept that this painting is the first version of the “Conversion of Paul.”
The painting depicts the moment when Saul of Tarsus, on his way to persecute Christians, is struck blind by a brilliant light. Some art historians describe Caravaggio’s style in this painting as a blend of Raphael and rustic realism. The use of the morning to pick out details dramatically impacts the viewer. Caravaggio’s “Conversion of St Paul” is considered one of the best Christian paintings of the early 1600s.
Many Christian paintings are well-known and famous not necessarily because they depict biblical events but because they are true works of art.