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Tag Archives: Italian art

Giovanni Coli and Filippo Gherardi

Christ and the Syrophoenician Woman

Giovanni Coli and Filippo Gherardi

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Whatsoever Things Are… Worthy of Praise: God the Father

In this compelling composition Cristoforo Scacco uses traditional iconography to highlight God the Father’s creativity and sovereignty.

Whatsoever Things Are… Commendable: The Tribulation of Job

Although an ancient text, the message in the book of Job resonates as powerfully today as it did centuries ago.


Visit HERE for the next video to think on things that are Excellent.

Whatsoever Things Are… Just: Painted Crucifix

In this rare 14th-century painted Crucifix, Francesco di Vannuccio creates an anguished–yet tender–image of the crucified Christ.


Visit HERE for the next video to consider what is Pure, referencing Christ’s power over sin, death, and Satan.

Whatsoever Things Are… Just: Triumphal Entry

Just days before His crucifixion, Christ enters Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover and is greeted by throngs of admirers. Turchi vividly captures this triumphant moment.


Visit HERE for the next video to consider what is Just, referencing Christ’s life.

Whatsoever Things Are… Honorable: The Good Samaritan

While the lives of real people are incredibly inspiring, so are stories with a poignant purpose, like this well-known parable.


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Whatsoever Things Are… Honorable: Ananias Restores Sight to Saul


Although much is written about the Apostle Paul, little is known of the courageous prophet who, at the Lord’s command, restored Paul’s sight.


Visit HERE for the next video to ponder those things that are Honorable.

Whatsoever Things Are… True: St. Paul


St. Paul, known as the Apostle to the Gentiles, was a passionate personality whose ardent zeal is well documented in Scripture. It is also beautifully captured in the nuances of this Mannerist work.


Visit HERE for the next video featuring Truthful things to consider.

Antonio Checchi (called Guidaccio da Imola): The Coronation of the Virgin

This is the only signed picture by this early Italian master. It also includes 55 faces!


Object of the Month: February 2022

Jacob Mourning over Joseph’s Coat

Oil on canvas, c. 1625

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called Il Guercino

Bolognese, 1591–1666

The nickname “Guercino” (the squinter) was given to the artist due to an eye defect which in no way deterred his ability or ambition to paint as evidenced by his lifelong production of hundreds of paintings, thousands of drawings, and numerous frescoes. He worked for Pope Gregory XV in Rome where his style began the transition from baroque to classical. The vigorous brushwork, saturated colors, and bold, naturalistic modeling of the figure of Jacob are hallmarks of this transitional period.

The composition of this work is unusual for Guercino. First, the work portrays, not a saint, but the biblical character, the mourning father Jacob. Second, only a single figure is rendered and not a scene of the biblical event, whereas most works illustrating this tragedy show Joseph’s brothers in addition to the patriarch. Because of these compositional choices, Guercino presents a moment in time for the observer to ponder the emotions of Jacob. As such, the work could be seen as an allusion to God the Father’s loss of His Son or as any parent’s loss of a child. Either way, the work is more devotional than historical.

But it is impossible to separate the figure from the story. The work’s primary impact is the pathos it generates in the viewer. Not only has Jacob lost his favorite son, but he becomes the victim of deceit, his lifelong characteristic. After deceiving his father, Jacob is deceived, in turn, by his father-in-law, who first marries him to Leah and later to Rachel whom he loves. Jacob favors Joseph, his eleventh son and elder of Rachel’s two sons, making him a coat of many colors. Their increased jealousy causes the brothers to sell Joseph into slavery and use the blood-stained coat to deceive their father into believing the teen was killed by wild beasts. A devastated Jacob looks to heaven. Is it to ask for God’s comfort or to ask God why He has brought evil into his life? Regardless, Jacob goes to the right source, though he receives no answer. Uncomforted, he declares, “I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning” (Gen 37:35).

The painting, however, does not match the biblical account. Rather than a vibrant cloak, Guercino’s white garment succeeds on both the literal and symbolic levels: the bloodstains which clinch the lie are clear evidence, and the color white (which indicates innocence) argues that Joseph has been unjustly treated by his brothers. However, God is at work. Ultimately, innocent Joseph is vindicated with the most powerful position in Egypt, second only to Pharoah, allowing him to save all of Jacob’s household during a prolonged famine.

This moving work, illustrating one of the most devasting losses a parent can experience, offers much to contemplate. But as with all proper devotional art, this work points the viewer to the God of all the earth who will do right. Bad things do happen to good people; this world is a vale of sorrows; and character flaws do bear fruit—but God guides the lives of His children, using even those “bad things” to work together for good.

Dr. Karen Rowe Jones, M&G board member

Published 2022