The Renaissance gave us a wealth of Christian art… & some of it has a message deeper than the obvious image.
Take, for example, this painting by Jan Provost entitled A Christian Allegory. What are we to make of this seemingly odd imagery?
When we break it down into it’s parts, things become more clear & we can then understand how the painting works as a whole.
Provost lived in the Belgium from about 1462 to 1529. He is considered one of the most famous of the Netherlandish painters.
In addition to painting, he was an engineer, architect & cartographer, which may also explain some of the imagery in this allegory.
But on to the painting…
At the top, above all, we see the eye of God, watching over everything that happens below.
On the left, Christ wields the double sided sword of the Word.
On the right is the Bride of Christ holding the Lily of Mercy as she frees the dove of the Holy Spirit.
Below, gazing up at God is the soul, representing each of us mortal beings longing for the gift of grace & salvation.
The cosmos sits in the middle of the painting, created by & ruled over by God. Everything is in His hand.
But there is more to the painting that this simple interpretation & therein lies it’s wonder & power. It is a great source for contemplation & prayer, particularly about the greatness of God beyond the confines of our small world & the place of man in the universe.