Museum of Applied Art (The Old Arsenal). Photo by A. Varanka

 

EXHIBITION "CHRISTIANITY IN LITHUANIAN ART"
(28 December, 1999 - 31 December, 2003)

FINE ARTS

Dalia Tarandaite

Lithuania entered the Christian world at the moment, when it was dominated by the Gothic art. The earliest pieces of church art were brought into Lithuania mostly from Central Europe (Poland, Germany). The imported works and foreign painters who arrived to decorate Lithuanian churches introduced new Christian iconography and aesthetics, which was willingly accepted by the local artists and elaborated by their own artistic experience. The early church art in Lithuania was indebted equally to the Western art and the Byzantine tradition which spread from the Slavonic territories of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

The scarce surviving Gothic wooden sculpture created in Lithuania represents diverse stylistic trends. St Martin’s sculptural group is characteristic of German Gothic. Graceful and elegant, it is reminiscent of court art. The Crucifixion group characterized by calm and peaceful balance of suffering and inner strength was initially housed by Vilnius St. Francis of Assisi Church, one of the most ancient churches in Lithuania. St. John the Baptist sculpture originally located in the Labunava Cemetery Chapel exemplifies popular rural style.

Merkine Church Madonna represents religious painting in this exhibition. Composition of this painting as well as the types of faces are reminiscent of the Byzantine painting, yet the clothing, sketchy folds of the drapery, the background of the painting reveal belonging to the Western Gothic style.

The tradition of decorating paintings on board by floral patterns and gilt survived in the local tradition as late as the early 17 c.

The Renaissance brought into the church art more flexible arrangement of freely modeled figures (The Virgin and Child of the Old Trakai, St Philip).

Fine religious art by the painters representing national trends in the European painting of the 16-17th centuries in its transition from the Renaissance to Baroque periods is of much interest in this display. Harmonious Renaissance forms and humanistic world outlook characterize the Madonna with Child by the unknown Italian painter of the 16th century. The Maries approaching the Sepulchre by Antonio Campi and the Feast in the House of Pharisee by Benedetto Caliari bespeak of the artists interest in the human being and his surroundings. The Entombment painted in the workshop of Jacobo Bassano, St. Ursula and Virgins by Bartholommeus Spranger show the traces of Mannerism of the 16th century. Christ in the Tomb by Lodovico Carracci represents the Anti-Mannerism trend of Bologna Academy. Bartholommeo Schedone who took his lessons in realism from the innovator Caravaggio is represented by his Caritas.

The Italian Baroque is represented by the paintings St Paul the Hermit by Salvatore Rosa, St Sebastian by Guido Reni and the playful Virgin at Loreto attributed to the circle of Pietro Berretini da Cortona.

The Finding of Moses by Jann van Boeckhorst and Christ in Emmaus by the unknown artist of the 17th century display rich forms and textures cultivated by the artists of Flandres. Lot and his Daughters by Johann Michael Rottmayer, is a vivid representation of Austrian Baroque. Realistically modeled figures of saints and emotional expressiveness are characteristic of Spanish Baroque painting, represented in the exhibition by St Mary Magdalene by Francisco Ximenez and the Priest with the Cross by Juano Rizi.

The display features local Baroque too. The 17th century saw a heavy impact of the Italian Baroque on Lithuanian art supported by the donors such as the Pacai, the Sapiegos and other families of the nobility. In the 18th century the ties with the German and Austrian artistic centers grew closer. Alongside universal Baroque qualities the Lithuanian Baroque exhibited unique regional features determined by the Lithuanian temperament and world outlook. Big and diverse heritage of the Lithuanian Baroque is represented in the exhibition by Szymon Czechowicz paintings, which initially were to decorate the churches of St Catherine and the Holy Heart of Jesus in Vilnius. Paintings and sculptures by the unknown artists of Vilnius and other Lithuanian provinces, which originally were located in the Lithuanian churches and cloisters, are on display.

New Exhibitions. Section about the new exhibitions in the Lithuanian Art Museum

Lithuanian Art Museum, Fund of Samogitian Culture, Institute of Mathematics and Informatics 
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     Page updated 2011.08.12