Christianity was the most influential factor in Western medieval and early modern art. Since the Middle Ages and up to the Renaissance, famous biblical scenes have been present in art. The reason for this lies not only in their social importance, but equally, biblical art was a way of teaching the illiterate population the Holy Book.
In this article, we explore the most common and famous biblical paintings that you need to know in order to understand art history.
The Book of Genesis
This is one of the most original images from the Bible, recreated in art and literature. The human fascination with the origin of mankind, the paradise of the Garden of Eden, the infiltration of evil and the subsequent fall of mankind has led countless artists to try to visualize these stories and their meaning.
One of the most famous biblical paintings concerning the Book of Genesis is Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam. It is considered the most influential fresco because of its countless imitations and parodies.
David and Goliath
This is one of the most famous Bible stories. This is the story of the shepherd boy David, who defeated the giant Goliath in single combat using only a slingshot. There are many depictions of the story in art history. An example above is the famous Christian painting by Italian Renaissance artist Tiziano Vecellio.
According to the Bible, the Annunciation is the announcement of the angel Gabriel to Mary that she will conceive and give birth to the Son of God. This is one of the most frequent subjects of Christian biblical art. It has been depicted by Boticelli, Da Vinci, Carvaggio and Murrillo amongst others.
The Last Supper
Another famous Christian painting we often see is the Last Supper of Jesus and the Twelve Apostles. Each painting is especially distinguished by its portrayal of Judas. Artists often use symbols to show his duplicity.
This is one of the most important symbols in Christianity. Depictions of Christ carrying the cross, crucified and descending from it are widespread in Western art. Based on the Gospel of Matthew, the various depictions include items not mentioned in the Bible. This includes John the Evangelist, who is often depicted supporting the fainting Virgin Mary, and Mary Magdalene.