RNS – What came after: The Counter-Reformation art of Carlo Dolci

„Dolci’s paintings are libraries of the day’s Catholic visual conventions:

– Mary Magdalene is portrayed with wild, curly locks and a jar of oil next to her. (In some accounts, Magdalene is the “sinful woman” who anoints Jesus’ feet, though many scholars say this was not Mary Magdalene.)

– John the Baptist is typically portrayed carrying a cross made of reeds on which hangs a banner with the Latin phrase “Ecce agnus dei,” or “Behold the Lamb of God.” (John, according to tradition, preached about the one who is to come who is mightier than he.)

– Matthew, the author of the first Gospel in the New Testament, is represented writing with a quill while an angel hovers in the background. (Matthew’s symbol is an angel, while Mark is represented by a lion, Luke an ox and John an eagle.)

These devices were not new with Dolci. They were the deposit of hundreds of years of accumulated symbolism. But he upheld them with a controlled virtuosity.”


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