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Only Connect: The Art of Devotion

Apr 29 2011–ongoing

Seattle Art Museum

This gallery features Christian works of art from Italy and northern Europe. Most date from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, when churches and monasteries were the primary consumers of art. Expensive materials like ground minerals and gold leaf gave early altarpieces a rich appearance suitable for the depiction of divine figures. Later, artists used the oil medium to achieve a more naturalistic appearance for holy figures, which made the figures more approachable. Despite differences in style and technique, all of the art here shares the conviction that visual imagery can foster a sacred connection.

Many of the works are fragments of larger altarpieces. With the wane of European religious institutions in the nineteenth century, altarpieces were often disassembled and their individual panels sold to satisfy a new market for early Italian painting, which prized style over religious function as a way of connecting with the past.

Image: Adoration of the Christ Child, ca. 1475, Gherardo di Giovanni del Fora, Italian, Florence, 1445-1497, oil on wood panel, diameter: 35 1/2 in., Gift of Mr. Ivan L. Best, in memory of Mrs. Best, 53.86, photo: Paul Macapia.

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