The University of Arizona Museum of Art and Archive of Visual Arts

Master Impressions from the UAMA Collections: Saints

Francesco Villamena (after Federico Barocci),  St. Francis Receiving the Stigmata, c.1597

January 15, 2008 – May 4, 2008

The six prints presented highlight the tradition of depicting Christian saints in Western art. The works selected demonstrate a range of styles representative of different geographical areas in Europe — Italy, France, Spain — and of varying time periods, spanning the late 15th century to the late 17th century.

Religious subject matter dominated much of art throughout the medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods, particularly in Italy and Spain, as the Catholic Church was one of the most important patrons of artistic production. Not only did the visual arts function as architectural decoration, but they offered an important means of communicating information to a largely illiterate public and of promoting public devotion and worship.

The lives of saints provide a rich source of material for artists, and the tradition of depicting them involved a complex program of iconographic symbols, figural poses and compositional elements to indicate the saints’ identities to viewers. The portrayal of saints also challenged artists to make visible the invisible in representing spiritual experience.

From Francesco Villamena’s emotive picture of St. Francis receiving the stigmata to Jacques Callot’s terrifying vision of the temptation of St. Anthony, the prints on view exhibit a remarkable array of pictorial innovation as well as masterful capabilities in engraving, etching, and mezzotint.

– Susannah Maurer, Assistant Curator

Master Impressions from the UAMA Collections

This series of small, rotating presentations showcases the exceptional breadth and depth of the UAMA Old Master print collection. These selections offer focused consideration of a particularly significant artist or theme, and elucidate some of the most influential developments in the Western printmaking tradition.

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Master Impressions from the UAMA Collections