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Christ is not like a snail: Signs and symbols | The audacity of Christian art | National Gallery

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This episode looks at the visual language of signs and symbols known as iconography. Chloë Reddaway considers the surprising appearance of a snail in Crivelli’s ‘The Virgin and Child with Saints Francis and Sebastian’ (1491) and asks how it might help in the seemingly impossible task of painting Christ. ‘The audacity of Christian art: The problem of painting Christ’ is a seven-part series in which Dr Chloë Reddaway, Howard and Roberta Ahmanson Curator in Art and Religion at the National Gallery, explores the theological and artistic challenges involved in painting Christ as fully human and fully divine, and reveals some of the ingenious and surprising ways in which Renaissance artists responded. Subscribe to be the first to know about new episodes: http://bit.ly/1HrNTFd Like the National Gallery on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/thenationalgallery Follow the National Gallery on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NationalGallery Follow the National Gallery on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/national_gallery Help keep the museum accessible for everyone by supporting us here: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/support-us The National Gallery houses the national collection of paintings in the Western European tradition from the 13th to the 19th centuries. The museum is free of charge and open 361 days per year, daily between 10.00 am - 6.00 pm and on Fridays between 10.00 am - 9.00 pm. Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5DN https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk
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Text Comments (21)
Romulus Buta (2 months ago)
Snail maight reprezent the average beliver, becouse it is a slow-wolking ...And so,the true beliver needs a lot of time of praying and makeing religious canons to go to , and finally arive near by God . "A true beliver prepares himself all his life, by being a good cristian, to meet his God ."
Ed E (4 months ago)
Paradoxical objects interactions with thoughts about these paitnings. I am learning so much. thank you.
Emily Sweet (5 months ago)
These are the most facinating videos I've seen on YouTube. I've never thought about any of these questions and I find them really thought-provoking. She is a great speaker too! I'm impressed
Terry Beaton (6 months ago)
I don't really understand why such a ridiculous painting merits so much study and interpretation. Or maybe that's the only way to appreciate it. This exercise in pretentiousness puts me in mind of the emperor with no clothes story. Honestly, if it wasn't supposed to be 'important', it would just seem humorous.
Emily Sweet (5 months ago)
Terry Beaton Regardless if anything is important or not, I think we should always question things and keep an open mind. Limiting questions to what people see as "important" is damaging to society. I believe this sort of selective questioning is rampant today and results in people questioning clothing worn by public figures, which is seen as "important," instead of questioning things in the world that cause undue suffering to billions of people. When the focus is placed solely on one area, other areas of equal or greater importance are overlooked. This is why we need to understand and question everything equally because we can never fully understand any aspect of life. As the famous philosopher Paramendies noted, humans can only make the most educated guess about something, we can never know for certain. Keep questioning! :)
Niels Nielsen (6 months ago)
Superb! One can only hope Chrloe Reddaway is giving tours or classes the next time I'm able to visit your wonderful museum.
Dana Law (6 months ago)
Thank you again for deep dive into this religious art. Fascinating.
Anthony Drozdowski (6 months ago)
Beautiful!!! Looking forward to the next episode.
Bob Laubach (6 months ago)
Saint Francis--.Patron saint of animals, merchants & ecology St. Sebastian-- Patron saint of soldiers, athletes & those desiring a saintly death.
Steve Miller (6 months ago)
Excellent series. Great resolution of the images, clear, concise and beautifully presented by Chloe R.
Fay Folk Studios (6 months ago)
The snail would most likely suggest the tedium of snail travel.
pencilpauli (6 months ago)
Thought provoking. If I wanted to paint a snail as though it were *on* the painting rather than *in* the painting, I would paint it contrary to the perspective. It looks to me that the snail is meant to be in the painting every bit as much as the flowers strewn at the foot of Mary. Did wonder if there was a reference to the Resurrection, the snail emerging from it's "cave" of a shell. The concept of snails being conceived by the morning dew sounds most likely given the allegorical Bestiaries of the Middle Ages. Not sure how the hermaphrodite sexual reproduction of snails would have been known at the time. Fascinating insights very well presented by Chloe. Very much look forward to the next video in the series.
Emily Sweet (5 months ago)
pencilpauli Interesting questions. I too wonder if they were aware of asexual reproduction in those times. If so, I wonder if they associated a negative connotation to it (as they often did with unexplainable and unusual phenomenon) and perhaps the snail in the painting could relate to their negative connotations of asexual reproduction?
Peter Vernon (6 months ago)
Interesting, pencilpauli. Have a look at the del Cossa (in Dresden) Annunciation, and see what you think. In the Crivelli there's no doubt the snail is on the painted border--I wonder if, in addition to the location by St Francis's foot, there is some connection to the letters over which it is placed? I'll have another look next time I'm in NG. But it's certainly a fascinating series, well-presented by Chloë
Occidental Awakening (6 months ago)
Nice to see you posting something serious and taking a break from the SJW tripe.
pencilpauli (6 months ago)
Wasn't Jesus a Social Justice Warrior? Render that which is Caesar's unto Caesar didn't mean tax breaks afaik. #TheGoodSamaritan
Peter Vernon (6 months ago)
Yes, a fascinating discussion. I can see the argument from the negative (apophatic), but doubt the iconographic interpretation. Daniel Arasse, (to whom you may have made a glancing reference), in On n'y voit rien, writes about the outsize snail, in the Francesco del Cossa Annunciation, in terms of perspective--not so much what we see, but rather how we see. It would be interesting if you could talk a little more about structure, but in any case thanks very much for the series so far. Peter
pencilpauli (6 months ago)
Please see my comment about the snail, Peter
Cindy Ferencz Hammond (6 months ago)
Very well done!
Sun King (6 months ago)
She needs her own BBC art documentary 👏 I hope she does get a show in the future, she's very talented.
Sameh Gayed (6 months ago)
Outstanding

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