“Christian Art: How to Recognize Saints, Sinners, Heaven, Hell, and More in Art”

"Christian Art: How to Recognize Saints, Sinners, Heaven, Hell, and More in Art"
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Course Description:

Have you ever walked into a church and experienced light streaming through the jewel-colored stained glass windows only to look up and think what religious person or story is depicted there and why?   Have you ever wondered why St. Jerome’s symbol was the lion or why St. Agatha is shown with two breasts on a plate?

The visual expressions of the Christian tradition provide a rich resource in understanding the development of the Christian faith as it has been experienced in different time periods and cultures. The course will explore how Christian symbolism grew to include not only overt scriptural and non-scriptural references to the key holy figures of Christianity but also how artists used letters, numbers, shapes, colors, utilitarian objects, flora, and fauna in order to express primary theological understandings of the Christian faith. The media we will study will include paintings, mosaics, and other arts that have been produced from the second century through the beginning of the Early Modern period, mostly in Italy.

Text (recommended):

Signs and Symbols in Christian Art by George Ferguson, Oxford University Press (1961).  Note:  any edition.


Cynthia Stollhans, Ph.D., is a Full Professor of Art History at Saint Louis University.  Cynthia teaches courses in Italian Renaissance Art, Saints in Art, The Art of Rome and many other courses. She is the author of St. Catherine of Alexandria in Renaissance Roman Art (Ashgate: 2014) and has published widely in art history journals.  Her research is conducted in the libraries and archives of Rome, where she spends time every year.

Course Outline:

September 23:  The Beginnings of Christian Art:  artworks from Dura Europos (Syria), Rome (Italy), and Ravenna (Italy).

September 30:  Saints in Art:  the histories of St. Catherine of Alexandria and St. Francis in art

October 7: Text and Image:  saints and traditions from The Golden Legend as portrayed in art in the cities of Padua, Rome, and Arezzo

October 14:   Art for Pope Julius II:  artworks commissioned by Julius II include St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City and the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo

Classes will meet from 7pm to 8:30pm at the Kenrick Glennon Seminary.

Event Details

Date(s) - September 23, 2019 - October 14, 2019
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Kenrick–Glennon Seminary

Presented by:
Discipulus Institute

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