Piero della Francesca

Piero della Francesca

Art or religion?

 

Painting The Baptism of Christ, depicting the major milestone in the life of Jesus, was commissioned by the Italian Camaldolese Monastery in 1440. Built on mathematical principles (the golden ratio) it is renown for its perfection and beauty.

 

But in 2008 it stirred up an important debate: is it art or religion? The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, announced that the painting should be displayed in a religious setting, not in a museum, “because it is a mistake to treat it as a work of art: it is a work of faith and piety, and a way into prayer.”

 

There is no mistake though. Not anyone, but Piero della Francesca (1415-92), one of the most skilful and intelligent artists of the time, was asked to paint it. The Camaldolese monks knew that the image should be more than a mere illustration, however well made. It must inspire, move and transform. It must be thoughtful, powerful and impressive. It must be art! They understood that whether in religious or secular setting the real art transcends the human soul and glorifies God.

 

The Baptism of Christ, 1450

Piero della Francesca

OTHER IMAGES

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Madonna of Mercy

Piero della Francesca

size/price

The Annunciation

Piero della Francesca

size/price

Crucifixion

Piero della Francesca

size/price

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