The Museum of the Bible may not be what you expect. Far from evangelical, this museum serves as a resource for all things related to religion and history, including exhibits showcasing antiquities from Israel and the Vatican, record-breaking pictorial narratives, and even a virtual reality experience to take visitors to the first century — or in the present day, to highlight particular religious landmarks right here in DC!
And an exciting new temporary exhibition, Picture Books of the Past: Reading an Old Master Painting, is opening this Saturday, August 24. Featuring over 60 Old Master paintings from the Museum & Gallery at Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC, the exhibition will display how the church used pictures as a tool to convey biblical stories and religious instruction.
The term “Old Masters” refers to well-known painters working in Europe between the 14th and 19th century. These artists, grounded in church tradition, created a shared visual language in which ordinary objects held deep religious symbolism. Repetition of these iconographic images gave the viewer clues to identify the characters, settings and stories depicted in the paintings.
“It is important to read, analyze and interpret images. Understanding how people of the past used images to communicate profound ideas can help viewers move beyond the idea of images as entertainment (e.g., TV, gaming) to images as meaningful constructs,” said Erin Jones, executive director of the Museum & Gallery. “A thorough understanding can also help with interpreting visual propaganda so common in our culture today.”
Some featured painting of the exhibit include Carlo Dolci’s Madonna and Child, Lorenzo di Niccolo di Martino’s The Holy Trinity, Tintoretto’s The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon, Gerrit van Honthorst’s The Holy Family in the Carpenter Shop, and Allegory on the Fall and Redemption of Man by Lucas Cranach the Younger.
Picture Books of the Past: Reading an Old Master Painting will run until September 30, 2020.