Religion in Art

sir-stanley-spencer-cookhamStanley Spencer –  “The Resurrection”

For centuries Christian imagery was the main focus of mainstream artistic endeavour. Some of the most famous religious triptychs of the Middle Ages, such as Rubens ‘Elevation of the Cross’ (c16100 which can be seen in Antwerp Cathedral, or Master of Delft’s ‘Scenes from the Passion of Christ’ (c1510) on display at the National Gallery, London demonstrate the importance and value of religion in Western art at the time. Bible stories and religious events were depicted in often large, figurative paintings, using precious paint colours such as lapis lazuli blue, both of which served to impress the audience with the seeming veracity of their subject matter. But times were of course very different then than now. Religion was arguably so central to European culture that, with a largely illiterate proletariat, depictions of religious scenes informed and educated as well as decorated. As the centuries passed by and as the importance or domination of Christianity on the lives of the masses changed, religious images as art became increasingly subverted in a challenge to the Christian hegemony. The work of Sir Stanley Spencer springs to mind when I think of how this is exemplified in the 20th century. His work ‘The Resurrection, Cookham’ (1927) is set in the grounds of the Holy Trinity Church in his home village in Berkshire and shows Spencer’s friends and family from both Cookham and Hampstead, and others emerging from graves watched by figures of God, Christ and the saints. To the left of the church some of the resurrected are climbing over a stile, others are making their way to the river to board a Thames pleasure boat, others are simply inspecting their headstones. In creating this work which The Times art critic described as “the most important picture painted by any English artist in the present century…” Spencer brought religious art straight back to cultural prominence to a by now largely secular audience.

Moving forward to the current time, religious imagery in art and its use as a device to engage the audience in the comfort of the familiar, whilst challenging perceptions, is a common occurrence. Representations of Christianity in secular art are very common and are popular and acceptable in most modern genres. We do not generally treat a Christian religious image used in art as an object of reverence from a spiritual perspective – we are unlikely to be persuaded to buy such a piece from a religious standpoint.

Adoration Bleu

In the Gallery we have ‘Adoration Bleu’ by Joel Moens de Hase (pictured above) showing a saintly nun gazing upwards, seemingly in some kind of ecstasy, but her picture is made up of hundreds of tiny images of ladies in their underwear.

Acceptance 1

“Acceptance” by Dean Kemp

Dean Kemp’s statue ‘Acceptance’ is of a topless man wearing jeans but with angels’ wings sprouting from his shoulders. Acceptance of religiosity? Acceptance of wings? Interesting questions that do not place religion at the centre of the statue’s meaning but which are implied.

Dark Icarus

“Dark Icarus” by Ian Hodgson

Although the story of Icarus is taken from Greek Mythology is does proclaim many religious connotations notably the consequence of personal over-ambition. Ian depicts his figure with arms out stretched mimicking the crucifix, probably the most principal symbol for Christianity.

Male Fide

“Mala Fide” by Magnus Gjoen

Finally, we have seen a great deal of interest in the religion themed pieces by Magnus Gjoen – a print of his piece ‘Mala Fide’ was snapped up by a discerning buyer in the gallery earlier in the year and this depicts Jesus holding two machine guns. The artists draw on a rich tradition of religious representation and yet they all have a twist in the tail

12A, Flying Horse Walk,  Nottingham (UK)

George Thornton Art – What we offer? Watch the video!

George Thornton Art

George Thornton Art is a Nottingham based art gallery dealing in original works of art and sculpture by established local artists and international modern masters.

What we offer – Video.

  • Dealing in affordable, original works of art and sculpture.
  • Working with established Artists’ collected worldwide.
  • Each represented Artist creates work by utilizing interesting and contemporary techniques.
  • View art in your own home before purchasing.
  • Commissioned work available by selected Artists’ for that personal touch.
  • Pay via interest free monthly instalments supported by Arts Council England.
  • Professional and experienced staff to help you make that all important choice.

Represented Artist –

  • Alicia Dubnyckyj
  • Christopher Green
  • Darren Stevenson
  • David Bez
  • Dean Fox
  • Dean Kemp
  • Dilk
  • Ed Chapman
  • Elaine Bunfield
  • Gail Troth
  • Ian Hodgson
  • Jan Nelson
  • Jane Thomson
  • Jeff Childs
  • JJ Adams
  • Joel Moens de Hase
  • Kate Bentley
  • Kate Brinkworth
  • Katy Jade Dobson
  • Lawrie Williamson
  • Mackenzie Thorpe
  • Magnus Gjoen
  • Marion Bolognesi
  • Matt Colagiuri
  • Mr Mead
  • Nick Holdsworth
  • Nikki Douthwaite
  • Nom Kinnear King
  • Paul Lemmon
  • Rachel Tighe
  • Rachel Wood
  • Russell Hatton
  • Sara Sanz
  • Sarah Graham
  • Sarah-Jane Szikora
  • Stephen Rautenbach
  • Xue Wang
  • Yvonne Coomber
  • Do come in and meet the team – 12A Flying Horse walk, Nottingham, NG1 2HN – – 01159243555

    Exhibition: The Works of Ian Hodgson

    George Thornton Art proudly presents a solo exhibition with the critically acclaimed artists Ian Hodgson.

    We would like to invite you to come and view Hodgsons amazing work in the Gallery between Saturday 13th July and Saturday 20th July. Hodgson himself will be in the gallery on Saturday 13th between 1pm and 4pm to answer any questions you may have and to talk about his work first hand.

    Hodgson’s unique style and instantly recognisable content has given him critical acclaim all over the country. Famous for his depiction of the male body, fingerprints, mirror balls, plus his portray of architecture has allowed him an almost celebrity status within the south east.

    Creating his work by manipulating pastel on paper, strategically scoring on the back allows him to blend charcoal and bring the whole piece together.

    These figurative and urban creations have generated much acclaim for Hodgson whose work has been commisioned for album covers and even for the tins of Derwent Pencils.

    This will be the Gallery’s third exhibition by the artist and we hope you can come along and take part in what will be an amazing show.

    Check out some feautred pieces from the show below.

    For more information please contact the gallery either by email or phone.


    ‘Feathers and wax’ by Ian Hodgson
    Graphite onto Paper
    Dimensions: 34″ x 28.5″
    £695 or 10 monthly installments of just £69.50


    ‘Egress’ by Ian Hodgson
    Graphite onto Board
    Dimensions: 8″ x 8″
    Price: £135


    ‘Urbanscope’ by Ian Hodgson
    Graphite onto Paper
    Dimensions: 34″ x 28.5″
    £695 or 10 monthly installments of just £69.50


    ‘Once I Had Love’ by Ian Hodgson
    Graphite onto Paper
    Dimensions: 27.5″ x 27.5″
    £495 or 10 monthly installments of just £49.50