The University of Dayton is a top-tier Catholic university with offerings from the undergraduate to doctoral levels. We are a diverse community committed in the Marianist tradition, to educating the whole person and linking learning and scholarship with leadership and service.
Opposite each bed in the cells of the Convent of San
Marco in Florence, Fra Angelico painted a fresco with a scene from the life of Christ which was to be a focus for each monk’s contemplation. This tender portrayal of the Annunciation is a most loved piece of Fra Angelico.
The most quintessential Gothic artist is Simone Martini. His figures have a stunningly physical fluidity; whether angelic or human, they sway and sweep across the scene, dazzlingly beautiful, like some mystical inhabitants both of our world and of heaven.
His sense of drama is poignantly present in The Annunciation in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. We see Mary shrinking, almost aghast at the solemnity of being asked to be the bearer of God’s Son, yet even at this moment of profound spiritual bewilderment, Mary moves with the characteristic elegance of Simone’s figures.
Grünewald, one of the most important artists of the Northern Renaissance, painted the crucifixion with a startling power of expression, interpreting the event with deep psychological insight.
The altarpiece has two sets of wings. Wings closed the monumental work of art shows the crucifixion flanked by Saint Anthony and Saint Sebastian. When the outer wings are opened we see the Annunciation, the Nativity with the concert of angels, and the Resurrection with the transfigured Christ ascending to heaven.
This beautiful and delicate Madonna and Child by Giotto (1320-30) is in the collection of the National Gallery in Washington DC. A new sense of convincing solidity of form and human individuality is present in Giotto’s work. Mary looks out on us with tender dignity and the Child sits in her arm as on a throne.
This beautifully shaped altarpiece with Madonna and Child tenderly and gently whispers of the love between mother and child.
This painting was painted in the mid 15th century and is now in the Art Institute of Chicago
Raphael used the round format of this painting as a way to add grandeur to the scene. The Virgin’s pose resembles a work of classical sculpture. She no longer wears contemporary dress but the robes of ancient Rome. The focus of the gestures and glances of all three personages depicted is centered on a slender reed cross that actually defines the work’s meaning. Church doctrine holds that from birth Christ had an “understanding” of his fate. Here he accepts the cross of his future sacrifice, an action understood as well by his mother and cousin.
Sometimes known as the Doni Madonna, the circular painting defies exact interpretation. But certain elements suggest that Mary and Joseph appear to be presenting or giving the Christ Child. A prayer for Epiphany exhorts God to look down in mercy on the gifts of his Church, by which we offer “that which is signified, immolated and received by these gifts, Jesus Christ”; doni is the Italian for “gifts.” The Doni Tondo (circular frame) could have received its name from Agnolo Doni to commemorate his marriage.
Possibly two altarpieces in one, this complex structure has a striking and commanding presence. The top panel contains the Annunciation. The central panel portrays Madonna and Child. The predella highlights the importance of Saint Francis in Umbrian religious culture of the time.
The Isenheim Altarpiece in the museum of Colmar, France epitomizes German 16th century painting with its mystical piety, brutally realistic portrayal of the agony of Christ’s passion, and the expressionistic rendering of the form. Christ is portrayed with sores over his body, similar to those on the patients of the hospital for which the painting was commissioned…. Christ taking on our suffering and pain. Mary the mother of Jesus, faints as John supports her and John the Baptist points the finger.....
This piece and its motif is one of the most important of all art works for the Christian faith. The altarpiece unfurls to open with various scenes from the Bible: Annunciation, the Nativity and the Resurrection.
The closed position, the one the faithful saw on weekdays, is composed of a large central picture of the Crucifixion, the predella showing the Lamentation over the Dead Christ and two narrow fixed wings with figures of saints Sebastian and Anthony.
The deposition, now in the Museo di San Marco was executed for the Strozzi Chapel in Santa Trinita. Though the composition is deployed across the entire panel, the figures fall into three separate groups. In the center the body of Christ is set diagonally against the flat and vertical plane of the ladders, as it is taken down from the cross.
Giotto’s art was highly innovative, and he may be considered a progenitor of the art revolution that led to the Italian Renaissance. The Lamentation (or Pietà) is a fresco in his series illustrating the Life of Christ in the early 14th century Scrovegni (or Arena) Chapel in Padua. He treated religious subjects with a new spirit, infusing them with a freshness that conveyed insightful human emotional content.
Rogier van der Weyden (1399-1464) is a giant of the northern Renaissance movement. He is a master of expressing human emotion and perhaps the best example of this is his Deposition. It is of its nature an emotional subject, but no artist has imbued this scene with more pathos than van der Weyden. Like a great sculptured frieze, the holy mourners are spread across the surface of the painting. Christ and his mother echo the same position; He falls from the cross physically dead; she falls to the ground emotionally dead.
Van der Weyden explores all the degrees and kinds of grief, from the controlled and grave anguish of St. John on the left, to the anguished abandon of Mary Magdalene on the right. The extravagance of the emotion never escapes the artist’s control. All remain firmly believable, and we are swept into an experience that is at once beautiful and terrible.
The world famous Pietà by Michelangelo is located in Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City. The marble sculpture depicts the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the Deposition. Michelangelo chose to portray Mary much larger than Jesus even though he was a grown man of around 33 years, perhaps as a way to recall her holding the child Jesus in her lap when he was a baby.