Agostino Carracci: Obsession with Religion or Art?

Paintings have been a major component of art since the early times. Various artists drew various paintings on various materials including glass, paper, and stone. The paintings have been preserved for generations. It takes a lot of resources and creativity to develop a single painting. The paintings were used to reflect various ideas, conflicts and issues happening at the time of painting. Most paintings had specific themes. Themes included political issues, religious issues, and economic issues. Some paintings led to arrest of the artists while others made the artists famous.

Among the most celebrated artists is Agostino Carracci. He lived between 1557 and 1602. He was an Italian painter. He came from a family of great painters as he was a brother to the great artist Annibale and a first cousin to Lodovico Carracci. Together they founded the Accademia Degli Incamminati. The Academy natured a new generation of artists by integrating them into the School of Bologna. Analyzing the various arts by Agostino is important since he has worked with previous artists and on his original works. His most fundamental artwork is Madonna and Child with St. John.

The two paintings considered for this analysis is Madonna and Child with St. Anne. The painting was accomplished by Caravaggio. Caravaggio was painted between 1605 and 1606. The painting was supposed to be displayed in the altar of Archconfraternity in St. Peter. The painting was displayed temporarily in the Vatican Church but was removed because of how it portrayed Virgin Mary.

There are many similarities between the two paintings. First, the two paintings involved religion and in particular, Catholic Church. Madonna and Child with St. Anne display images of three key personalities in the Catholic Church. The people in the painting are Virgin Mary, St. Anne and the Christ. In the painting, Christ and Virgin Mary are treading on a black serpent simultaneously. St. Anne. St. Anne was regarded as the saint of Palafrenieri. In addition to that, the painting is based on the Bible, which is the primary reference for Christians.

Madonna and Child with St. John is also based on religion. The painting also involves three personalities in the Bible. The painting depicts Virgin Mary holding her son, the Christ as St. John looks on. St. John is referred in the Bible as a close cousin to the Christ. The Bible describes John the Baptist as a person living in the wilderness. Agostino displays John holding a shepherd’s stick and wearing woolen cloak commonly used by shepherds in the wilderness. Therefore, there two paintings are about the same theme.

The other similarity is that both paintings have limited lighting in the background depicting that the characters were indoors. Artists at the time used bright backgrounds to enhance the quality of their paintings. However, both artists used a dark background, and still, their artworks were pleasant. The backgrounds also describe that the characters were all indoors.
Also, the painters painted the clothes of the characters in bright colors to achieve various objectives. In Madonna and Child with St. John, the Virgin Mary wears a purple robe. In the Roman Catholic, purple color was reserved for Kings and extremely rich people. Since Christ was viewed as the King of the Jews, the artist used the color to show that Virgin Mary is blessed to be the mother of a King. Christ is dressed in white to show that he is pure. The White color is associated with being pure and humble.

On the other hand, Madonna and Child with St. Anne, St. Anne is dressed in white. This also shows how pure and sinless she is. However, Caravaggio used the dressing of the characters to bring out the various conflicts in religion. In his painting, Christ is naked while his mother exposes parts of her breasts. The painting was criticized due to the dressing. However, since Christ is naked, viewers can see that the leg of Christ is stretched out showing that he also tries to kill the serpent. According to Christian believers, Christ is the savior of mankind. Stepping on the snake means that he protects his mother and St. Anne from the snake. There were many issues with the artwork due to the Virgin Mary being overexposed.

Also, various objects have been placed on the artworks to show that the characters are holy. In the artwork, Madonna and Child with St. Anne, two circles are placed over the heads of Virgin Mary and St. Anne. In the ancient times, characters in drawings that represented Biblical people had these circles over their heads. Thus, the artist used the circles to show that these were the images of Christ and his mother. On the other hand, in the artwork, Madonna and Child with St. John, there is a flower in the picture. This flower shows that the family is caring. In addition to that, St. John places his hands together to show that he is worshiping Christ. Since Christ is viewed as the King, St. John praises him according to the Bible.

The two paintings present two different understandings of Christ. In the painting, Madonna and Child with St. John, Christ are portrayed as humble. His humility is displayed when he lay on his mother’s hands. Just like a young baby, he rests on his mother’s chest. Although he is the King of the Jews, he does not exercise his authority in the painting. On the other hand, in the art, Madonna and Child with St. Anne, Christ is displayed as an authoritative leader. The Christ steps a black serpent’s head. His mother helps him and St. Anne looks on. Since Virgin Mary and St. Anne are not surprised by Christ’s actions, it shows that they support his authoritative leadership. In addition to that, Virgin Mary exposes parts of her body while Christ is naked. This does not show the Jewish believe in a humble Christ.

In the ancient times, various objects were used in paintings to achieve the aim of the artists. In both paintings, various objects have been used to show the future life and purpose of Christ. In the painting, Madonna and Child with St. Anne, there is a serpent. The serpent symbolizes the evil in the world. The purpose of Christ was to fight evil. The snake has been associated with Satan in the Christian religion. Thus, Christ destroys the snake showing that in the future, he will destroy the works of Satan. In the painting, Madonna and Child with St. John, St. John is holding a cross. According to Christians, Christ was crucified on the cross for the sins of humanity. The artist paints a cross to signify the future of Christ that he will die on the cross.

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