The Christian Year in Painting

John S. Dixon

‘A gorgeous repository of … images’ — Spectator
‘[Dixon’s] depth of knowledge of the Christian liturgy, his enthusiastic educator’s way of presenting, and his smart succinct writing style make this book fascinating … a rich, deeply satisfying read’ — New York Journal of Books

The stories of Christianity and painting have been intertwined since at least the Middle Ages. The painters of the early, high, and late Renaissance in Italy, Spain, and northern Europe learned their art and craft while working in the service of both the Church and devout patrons, producing depictions of scenes from the Bible and the lives of the saints for the benefit and instruction of clergy and worshippers alike. This book follows a course through the Christian year – from Advent and the Christmas season, through Holy Week and Easter, to All Saints’ Day – to present numerous works celebrating the key events and festivals of the liturgical calendar by some of the best-known names from art history.

Velázquez, Piero della Francesca, Rembrandt, Raphael, Giotto, Titian, Rubens, and Caravaggio are just some of the many artists included in the book with their celebrated depictions of feasts such as the Immaculate Conception, the Nativity, the Annunciation, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, Pentecost, and Trinity Sunday.

John S. Dixon guides the reader by offering detailed analysis of the formal qualities and symbolism of each painting, while outlining the biblical stories that inspired their creation and explaining their religious and art-historical significance. Full illustrations and close-up details of the featured works are accompanied by comparative illustrations of paintings and sculptures of the subjects by other masters. This beautiful book will enable all lovers of painting, both Christian and non-Christian, to expand their appreciation of these magnificent works of art.

John S. Dixon is the former Deputy Principal of Trinity and All Saints College in Leeds (now Leeds Trinity University) and a former tutor in art history at the Open University. He has also been for many years the arts correspondent for the weekly newspaper the Catholic Times.