The Catholic Defender: My Day At The Museum

Posted by John Benko - July 16th, 2013

This past Friday, I had the opportunity to visit “The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art” in Kansas City Missouri.  What an opportunity this was as I wanted to find a work of art for my homework assignment for my Humanities Art Class.

This place was colossal, huge.  You can literally spend all day here and really just touch the surface.  The more I looked for something for my paper, the more I found myself looking through the whole Museum.

There was a great Egyptian gallery that would take you days to go through if you took the time to really look at it all.  There were some Roman art intermixed with this gallery, it kind of reminded my of the alliance between Cleopatra and Rome.  I am also reminded of the movie that stared Richard Burton as “Mark Anthony”.

You walk in the building and all around were guys wearing dark suits keeping watch on the tourists as they went through the various stages.

They were also helpful in guiding you to where your wanting to go.  I had a great time meeting some of the staff working there.  As you can see, they even helped me take some pictures.

Those columns behind me were huge, that ceiling must of been 50 feet high.  There were huge sculptures that were placed throughout the Museum that really caught your eye.

There was a nice restaurant inside the Museum that really came in handy as I didn’t know that taking this tour would have been so exhausting, it was really good.

One of my favorite places within the Museum was the European art gallery.  Yes there were the ancient relics of pottery and statues, but I really loved the Knight on his horse.

Do you think this place comes alive after midnight? While I was there I saw several groups of young children making this tour with a guide.

It reminded me when I was in Catholic School just a few miles away from here.  This was a very family oriented place to go.

Everyone who can appreciate art as a professional down to the youngest student could take something home with them.  From the American Indian culture and art down to the Mexican contemporary gallery, there is a lot for everyone.

The religious paintings were really spectacular! I chose this particular picture because of the relevance I place on the Scriptures.  This is an oil painting on canvas of St. Jerome, the first Biblical  Scholar who spent 34 years in the Holy Land and 15 more years in Rome translating the Scriptures from the original languages.

Antonio d’ Enrico, also known as “Tanzio da Varallo”, an Italian born painter (1575-1635), entitled this work “The Penitent Saint Jerome” (1630).

This painting depicts a lot of symbols showing through art the importance of penance.  As he researched and studied the scriptures, he lived as a hermit much like many of his time.

Notice the red cardinal’s hat in the upper left of the picture, it is kind of tucked away in the upper left as a background. This shows he was a prince of the Church, you can see the red clothing as well which denotes the blood of Christ.

The books are before him as he is studying them, writing them.  Notice the rock in his right hand, this is St. Jerome beating his chest with the rock to show his sorrow for sin.  The skull is placed there as a reminder that worldly pursuits only bring death.  When you look closely at St. Jerome’s fingernails over the skull, they are dirty which is contrast by the self discipline and spiritual devotion emphasized by the paintings bright light. 

Oil paintings of this kind were important for European artists especially on canvases such as “The Penitent St. Jerome.”  We see the illusion of light and dark illustrating an emphasis and focal point that the artist wants to convey.  This painting gives an “Atmospheric Perspective” which displays objects in the background seemingly less distant such as the cardinal hat.

As I finished my tour, I couldn’t help but noticed the art located on the landscape.  Notice how small the couple walking on the left of the bad-mitten birdie?

It was a great day that I enjoyed.  I would encourage you to find a local Museum near you and see what there is to see.  It is part of our culture and much of the religious art is so inspiring.

Here at Fort Hood we have a couple of good Museums that depict some of our Units history.  I invite you to come check them out when you happen to come to Texas and the Fort Hood area!


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