Thursday, March 19, 2015

Saints alive (and almost dead): the power of Counter-Reformation paintings

By Aidan Dunne
From left: St Mary Magdalene in the Wilderness, circa 1625, by Domenichino; St Sebastian Tended by St Irene, circa 1650-52, by Luca Giordano; St Rufina (1630s) by Francisco de Zurbarán. Photographs: copyright National Gallery of Ireland
IRELAND---In a way, Passion & Persuasion: Images of Baroque Saints is as interesting for what we don’t see as for what we do. Drawn from the National Gallery’s Italian, Spanish and Flemish collections, it gathers a sizeable group of carefully composed 17th-century paintings. They take the form of individual portraits and theatrical tableaux of varying complexity. Among the individual portraits is a poised, devout St Rufina by Francisco de Zurbar├ín, for example, her figure and drapery beautifully modelled against a dark background. [link]