Thursday, February 27, 2014

Modernism (pt. 8)

Daniel and the Lion's Den was another story he chose to paint, but without the dramatic action and overexaggerated intensity.  Rubens' painting of Daniel in the Lion's Den showed quite a different scene, didn't it?  Here the artist has presented Daniel as a calm and humble servant of his Lord and Savior; the lions, as tranquil cats.  The setting is a barren, dungeon-like chamber, enclosed and withdrawn from the light of day except for the center illumination hitting the floor and the crossed arms of the captive Israelite youth.  Daniel does not appear afraid, and the lions don't look fearsome—because in the story, God caused the lions' mouths to remain shut for the duration of the night when Daniel was thrown into the otherwise deadly pit by King Darius for worshiping the Israelite God instead of the Babylonian king.  In this artwork Daniel bows his head in faithful submission to his Lord (contrasting with Rubens' Daniel, who looks up to Heaven with pleading eyes and clasped, prayerful hands).  This painting is one of quiet and resolute faith in God and His ability to deliver those out of darkness who put their trust in Him.  Bible stories, as you can see, are painted by Tanner in a humble light—perhaps for the first time in art history since the Medieval Period.  This is to show religious faith as a personal, humbling experience between the individual and God alone, not a landmark, earth-shattering phenomenon to be painted on the Sistine Chapel.

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