Sandro Botticelli’s Mystic Nativity

Botticelli’s Mystic Nativity is the subject of Day 14 in our Advent series. “I, Sandro, painted this picture at the end of the year 1500 in the troubles of Italy.” So begins the inscription at the top of Botticelli’s Mystic Nativity. Today’s piece is unique, complicated, and beautiful. Who was Botticelli? Alessandro Botticelli was an […]

The Backstory of the Merode Altarpiece Robert Campin

The Merode Altarpiece by Robert Campin is an annunciation triptych full of symbolic meaning that was intended to lead the faithful into deep contemplation of the mysteries of Christ leaving heaven to become a man. In this post we will be exploring the backstory and context of the work. If you wish to read more […]

Introducing Children to Art and Art History

Art and art history have been a part of our school life from the time my boys were toddlers, both producing art and enjoying works by others. This reflects a strong belief in introducing children to art and art history – art is interesting, expansive, and leads a well rounded education.  I enjoy art and […]

Saint Jerome in His Study by Albrecht Dürer

I also have the analysis of Albrecht Dürer‘s engraving, Saint Jerome in His Study, at the end of this post in a video format. If you prefer videos be sure to check out and subscribe to my You Tube Channel. Dürer is often referred to as the DaVinci of the North, a true Renaissance man […]

Video – Nativity Panel by Nicola Pisano at the Pisa Baptistery

Originally I shared the story of the Nativity Panel of the Pisa Baptistery pulpit in a blog, you can read it here, but decided to convert the material into a video for those who prefer that medium. The Baptistery Pulpit is a seminal piece of art marking the beginning of the Italian Renaissance. Nicola Pisano […]

Lent – Penitence and Preparation

Although many Christian traditions no longer observe Lent, I’ve found preparing for the celebration of Easter deepens the experience. Combining my research in art with Lent I’ve created a Visual Lent Devotional. I’d like to invite you to join me on my journey, exploring the Art of Christ’s Passion. These devotionals will begin on Ash […]

Frames and Pedestals, They Matter!

Our first impression of a piece of art is greatly influenced by how the work is displayed and by what surrounds it. Making the effort to consciously take note of these elements can increase our ability to read a work correctly. A closer look at a few sculptures will illustrate just what I mean. Before […]

Botticelli’s Venus and Mars Explained

Botticelli’s Venus and Mars is both beautiful and humorous. Mischievous satyrs, clear bright colors, hidden symbols, and missing legs all deserve a closer look so let’s get started.  Botticelli’s paintings of mythological stories are among his most famous. Botticelli’s Venus and Mars is telling the story of the illicit love affair between Venus and Mars. […]

Vision After the Sermon

This is Paul Gauguin’s painting called Vision After the Sermon.  Gauguin was a post-impressionist French painter who painted this work in 1888. Heavily influenced by Japanese print making and primitive art, Gauguin felt European art lacked the substance and symbolism found in primitive cultures. He often spoke of himself as a ‘savage’ and claimed that […]

Dürer’s Rhinoceros: Where Science and Imagination Meet

We’ve examined how the description of a Rhinoceros came to Dürer in this post, now we will move on to the actual print of Dürer’s Rhinoceros, how it was made, and what the words on the top of the print reveal. This print is a woodcut. A woodcut is a form of printing where a design […]

The Grand Tour

For nearly 300 years there was a tradition among the aristocracy of Europe to take a Grand Tour of prominent cities and their holdings of art in young adulthood. As I’m developing an Art History Curriculum, I’ve been excited to share the shape and scope of what I am working on. Art is a wonderful visual […]

Let a Child Lead You

Color in art is…complicated. While working on writing a clear, somewhat comprehensive article on the subject for my curriculum, I’ve struggled far more than seems reasonable. Connected to my thoughts on color, in a round about way, is another topic I’m interested in: teaching art to children. Color in art can be realistic, symbolic, emotive, […]

Entering The Conversation That Is Art

Article on the Visual Language of Art

Every discipline has it’s tools. Writer’s craft with words to stimulate the senses, rouse the emotions, and spark our ideas. Construction workers use tools to make an architect’s drawings a physical reality. Teachers use books, imagination, and dialog to inspire their students to learn. When we want to know more about art, how to read […]

Would a Prayer Nut Help You Keep Your New Year’s Resolution?

Article on the medieval Prayer Nut

I’m fascinated by some of the ‘miniatures’ in art, like the incredible details in manuscripts, or the shading and realism of a woodcut. Another astounding and often overlooked example of an artist working in miniature is the prayer nut. Prayer nuts were all the rage in the 1500’s. Rosaries are a beaded loop meant to […]

Bartolome Esteban Murillo’s Adoration of the Shepherds

Welcome to our 25th day of art on Nativity. This work is by Bartolome Esteban Murillo, a Spanish Baroque painter who spent his entire career in Seville, Spain. Known for his religious paintings, peasant children, and lively street scenes, Murillo’s works were very popular, both in his life time and after. Churches were the largest […]

Rembrandt’s Dream of Saint Joseph

An angel of the Lord to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him. Rembrandt Van Rijn, the extraordinary Dutch Master, was both a painter and […]

Are an Ox, a Rooster, And a Peacock the Perfect Image of the Nativity?

Welcome to day 23. A man of many names Tintoretto started out as Jacopo Comin, or Jacopo Robusti but came to be known as Tintoretto which means ‘little dyer’ as his father was a dyer. Later the name Il Furioso would be added because he painted with such energy and speed. The eldest of 21 […]

Caravaggio’s Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence

Welcome to day 22. Today’s painting is famous, not just because it is by a master, but because it is on the FBI’s 10 Top Art Crimes. This work was stolen, cut from it’s frame in 1969. The rumors and stories that have circulated since have never been substantiated. It seems clear that the Mafia […]

Pieter Bruegel the Elder The Census at Bethlehem

Welcome to Day 21 I love this painting. I’ve been running short on time, and hope to come back to this soon to add some more photos and clean up the post a bit, but I’m on a deadline. There are just so many engaging pieces to this painting, that I’m going to have to […]

El Greco’s Annunciation

Welcome to day 20 and El Greco. The burning bush seen by Moses The prophet in the wilderness The fire inside it was aflame But never consumed or injured it. The same with the Theotokos Mary Carried the fire of Divinity Nine months in her holy body. Doménikos Theotokópoulos, or commonly called El Greco (The […]

The Annunciation by Titian

Welcome to day 19. And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,  for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.     For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me,     and holy is his name.  And his mercy is for those who fear […]

Matthias Grunwald, The Annunciation from the Isenheim Altarpiece

Welcome to day 18. Matthias Grunewald was a contemporary of Albrecht Durer. Both men were important Northern Renaissance painters, both became embroiled in the turbulent politics and religious conflicts that dominated the era, and both expressed themselves in unique and arresting ways. Some of Grunewald’s paintings had originally been attributed to Durer, what is odd […]

The Holy Family by Michelangelo

This painting was done by Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, or Michelangelo. One of the greatest artist in history, he was a master sculptor, painter, and architect. There are not enough superlatives to heap on Michelangelo. His is the most celebrated and documented life of the 16th century. Living nearly 90 years, and producing masterpieces for […]

Giorgione’s Adoration of the Shepherds

Welcome to day 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,  and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  Giorgio da Castelfranco, or Giorgione which […]

Albrecht Durer and woodcuts of the Nativity

Welcome to day 15. Albrecht Durer is one of my favorite artists, I really love his woodcuts and engravings. Communicating complexity with nothing but lines, it astounds the viewer. That he so realistically represents space, emotion, perspective, shading…with nothing but black and white lines is beyond impressive. Printmaking was just coming into it’s own when […]

The Portinari Altarpiece by Hugo Van Der Goes

Welcome to day 13. Hugo Van Der Goes is recognized as one of the most original and bold of the Netherlandish painters. Born in or around Ghent, he spent most of his artistic life there. He completed altarpieces, portraits, court commissions and civic projects.  Few of his original works have survived, however we have many […]

The Annunciation with Two Donors by Filippo Lippi

Welcome to Day 12 The Holy Spirit will come upon you,     the power of the Highest hover over you; Therefore, the child you bring to birth     will be called Holy, Son of God. Filippo Lippi…his art and his life are fairly incongruous. He was a bit of a scoundrel, well, more than a bit. Figuring […]

Jan Van Eyck’s The Annunciation, The Hidden Meanings.

Welcome to day 11. for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.     For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed      Luke 1 It has been said that the Flemish wish is to paint more than the eye can see, and almost more than the mind can comprehend. This statement […]

Roger Van Der Weyden’s The Visitation

Welcome to Day 10. We return to the North to look at the work of a student of Robert Campin (we covered Campin on Day 8). We will be focusing on The Visitation, a small panel painting, and then taking a quicker look at The Nativity, where another version of The Visitation is painted. First, a […]

Donatello’s The Annunciation

Welcome to day 9. I’m excited that today we get to examine a work by one of the esteemed Ninja Turtles… Donatello. Born Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi, he is generally referred to as Donatello. (Thank Goodness!) Of the great High Renaissance Master’s, only Michelangelo outranks him. Donatello lived from 1386-1466, The other Ninja […]

Fra Angelico’s The Annunciation in the Cortona Altarpiece

Today we meet Fra Angelico. An early Italian Renaissance painter who was also a Dominican friar. When he joined the order, he changed his name to Fra Giovanni da Fiesole, or Father John of Fiesole. Later he was nicknamed Fra Beato Angelico, or Fra Angelico. His modest piety and his beautiful paintings earned him the […]

The Limbourg Brother’s Book of Hours

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his […]

Simone Martini’s The Annunciation

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”  But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and […]

The Duccio Maesta Altarpiece Nativity

The Duccio Maesta Altarpiece Nativity is the subject of day 4 of our tour of Nativity art. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of […]

Giotto Arena Chapel Nativity

Arena Chapel Giotto di Bondone

The Giotto Arena Chapel Nativity is the subject for day 3 on our Advent in Art Series. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. Luke 2:6 Background of the Giotto Arena Chapel In a Northeast corner of Italy is the city of Padua. Even […]

Mosaic in the Chora Church, Turkey

Welcome to day 2.  If you wish to read other post in this series you can find the links here.  As the posts go live you can access them there. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of […]

Nicola Pisano Nativity Panel in the Baptistry in Pisa.

The work we will be considering is the Nativity panel in the Baptistry in Pisa from a pulpit designed and sculpted by Nicola Pisano completed in 1260.  This information is also available in a video; the link is at the end of the article. A bit of background is necessary to put this work into […]

Advent in Art

I’m excited to invite you to participate in Advent in Art Reawaken the wonder and beauty of the Christmas story as we explore 25 masterpieces. For the first 25 days in December we will explore 500 years of art dedicated to the nativity. Rich with imagery, the story of the incarnation is made visible. Artists […]