Spirituality vs. St. Jerome by Caravaggio and Vision of the Thrones by Giotto

Essay by CrunkJunior High, 8th gradeA, May 2007

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Spirituality allows us to understand our capacity for Godliness. Through spirituality, we are able to see how everything we do is connected to God and how it reflects as to who we are and it will follow through in the afterlife in Heaven. Art is one of those subjects that no matter what age somebody is or what time period the art is in, that can be linked to one's thoughts on religion and their views of God. Three pieces of art, St. Jerome, painted by Caravaggio, Vision of the Thrones by Giotto, and the San Marco museum in Florence, are three works that show how religion can be seen through art.

St. Jerome, by Caravaggio is a painting where the main figure, St. Jerome, is depicted as an old, scrawny, yet wise and holy man. Caravaggio harnessed tenebrism and this is shown by the extreme contrast in light and shadow.

This painting is a dark piece, easily seen by the dark shadows, the skull next to St. Jerome, and how St. Jerome looks old, worn, and alone. St. Jerome is shown holding a book and pen, which is actually the bible. He's translating the Hebrew version of the bible into Latin, which opened so many doors to those who were unable to read Hebrew. This allowed those people to access sermons and readings of Christ easily. This painting reflects the school's theme of spirituality and how we should imitate St. Jerome and do something to help others, teaching them the word of the Lord and the goodness of the Lord.

Vision of the Thrones, a work by Giotto shows how believing in God and following through with his teachings will bring you happiness and a place in Heaven during the time after death. This painting shows a scene where Francis saw an angel in his early life and later becomes a Saint through prayer to God. Giotto shows more of an evolution in the understanding of perspective, shape and color. During the time that Giotto painted, perspective was not fully understood by painters and they could not find a way to interpret it into their work. Giotto also used iconography in his painting so that you could recognize who and what certain people and objects are. For example, you can tell from the brown clothing that St. Francis is wearing, that he is indeed St. Francis. Also, after the scene where St. Francis sees the angel, he's depicted with a halo above his head, showing his holiness as a Saint. St. Francis was recognized as a saint because of his kindliness towards animals. St. Francis also set out on a pilgrimage of non-violence to Egypt and along the way, he preached the word of the Lord. This painting shows how St. Francis was a true believer and follower of Christ and that peace will ultimately bring happiness to us all.

The San Marco museum in Florence is an amazing piece of architectural art. Michelozzo constructed this museum in 1436 because Cosimo di Medici had commissioned him to. Michelozzo followed Renaissance techniques by artists like Brunelleschi. The Roman arches in the courtyard show stability in the Roman Catholic Church and also create visual relief due to the soothing effects of light and how shadow is cast, creating a contrasting series of shadow. These arches and the color contrast show similarities to the chiaroscuro. These artistic aspects were heavily influenced by Fra Angelico. This building shows that even architecture, which many people take for granted, can be a religious icon. San Marco was originally designed as a monastery, but as time passed, more art was donated to the chapel, that it transformed into a museum. This is a building that when you look at it, you stare and try to understand every aspect of it and absorb the beautiful curves and colors and really think about in relationship to Christianity

These three works show how spirituality is everywhere we look and that it can be found in not just the church, but also in art and architecture. St. Jerome teaches us to spread the word of the Lord. Vision of the Thrones teaches us to be kind to others and forgive those who do badly towards us. Finally, San Marco teaches us that the holy spirit is with us no matter where we go, because so many things out there are based on religion and influenced by Christ. These works all teach us that God loves us and that we will be forgiven for our sins and that there is hope no matter what.

San Marco Convent, Florence. 28 April. 2007. <http://www.wga.hu/database/churches/marcocon.html>.

San Marco Convent, Florence. 28 April. 2007.


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