Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Giovanni Battista Moroni at the Royal Academy

Another visit that Zero and I managed during half term was to the exhibition of paintings by Moroni at the Royal Academy.

The exhibition divides itself in two, with one part being the portraits and the other Moroni's religious work. Moroni was a literal contemporary of the Council of Trent, which took place within his home region, and of the counter-reformation in the Catholic Church. The religious work takes the form of altar pieces, some of which have a drabness about them that would be very much at home in the somewhat shabby pretend-baroque that one can find in a certain type of provincial Italian Church. One example, that showing the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, can be seen on the exhibition home page linked above. However, what is interesting about the religious work is that it usually shows a devout person in contemplation of the biblical scene shown - a representation in art of the use of imagination to place oneself "within" a Scriptural scene that is a feature of the contemplations of St Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises.

But it is really the portraits that are the high point of the exhibition - so much so that, rather than asking yourself as you leave which of the paintings you would like to take home, you instead ask yourself who it is that you would like to take home.

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