Holy Child Catholic School Art Gallery
Our vision at Holy Child Catholic School is to give our students a chronological unfolding of art history on the walls of our school building. The art pieces on this page are what our students gaze upon every day as they walk the halls and were acquired with the help of generous donors and the Saint Luke Guild.
Click the drop down arrow on the masterpieces below to read more about each work of art.
If you would like to learn more about the Saint Luke Guild, you can visit them at www.saintlukeguild.com
The Parthenon - Southern Frieze, Athens
Ancient Greece, 447-432 B.C.E.
British Museum, London, and Acropolis Museum, Athens
The Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, is an astounding example of Classical Greek architecture and art. It was built by the architects Ictinus and Callicrates while the supervisor, and also the artistic director, for the project was the sculptor Phidias. Situated on the Acropolis in Athens, the Parthenon, at its prime, was a temple of white marble with countless colorful sculptures. Today, it is partially in ruins. The frieze that surrounded the cella, or the interior structure, still exists, but is divided among many museums around the world. The Acropolis Museum and the British Museum hold the majority of the 115 blocks, which formed the 160 meter- (or 525 foot-) long frieze. The narrative is about the procession that took place on the final day of the festival that honored Athena, the Great Panathenaia.
The Southern frieze as a whole depicts ten groups of six horsemen, divided so because of the different styles of dress each group wears. This imagery may define the tribes of which the Athenian cavalry was composed. In this slab, three horsemen are shown, mostly obscured by the heads of the horses. It is in the British Museum, but the head of the man in the center is in the Acropolis Museum.
"Descent From The Cross," 1438
Rogier van der Weyden (Belgium, 1399-1464)
Rogier van der Weyden (Belgium, 1399-1464)
This Flemish work highlights ten persons overtaken by grief at the death of the savior. The figure of the Virgin Mary is surrendered to gravity and takes on the lifeless features of Jesus, mirroring the curve of His body so that even their hands parallel each other. The viewer’s gaze naturally descends to the skull, reminding us of Christ’s victory over death.
Raphael, “Marriage of the Virgin,” 1504
This High Renaissance painting, known as the Sposalizio, housed in the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, Italy, was commissioned for a chapel dedicated to Saint Joseph right after his feast day was officially added to the Roman calendar. His paternal and fatherly presence illuminates this betrothal scene taken from the popular medieval tales of the saints compiled in the Golden Legend. Raphael completes an idealized landscape set near the Jerusalem Temple. While Joseph and the suitors are active, there is also a sense that the activity is outside of time. This quality, known as sprezzatura, depicts people seemingly freed from the effects of sin and the ease of a life lived in grace. The smoothness of Joseph’s yellow tunic speaks of this as does the geometric circularity of the Temple which creates an illusion of depth and perspective. The gaze of the Temple priest, and Mary and Joseph looking upon the Virgin’s hand about to receive a wedding ring is highlighted amidst all of the concentrated activity, thus making this painting a perfect depiction of the balance between human enterprise and contemplation mirrored in the life of St. Joseph.
Vincenzo Catena, “St Jerome In His Study,” 1510
This 16 th century masterpiece from the Venetian School depicts St. Jerome who is a Father of the Church and the namesake of our curriculum. Here, the city is in the background recalling that the saint left the noise of Rome to pray in the desert. The open window reminds us that Jerome’s translation of the Bible allows Scripture to be accessible to everyone.
"The Vision of St. Helena," 1580
Paolo Veronese (Venetian Republic, 1528-1588)
Paolo Veronese (Venetian Republic, 1528-1588)
This masterpiece from the Italian Renaissance depicts this moment in the early fourth century with a putti, or angel, presenting the image of the true cross to ST. Helena, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine. She followed this vision to Palestine where she was able to locate the relics of the true cross under the remains of a pagan altar and return home with them. The rich, Eastern fabrics filled with royal colors that she is wearing contrast with her leaning on the somber cross. There is a tinge of melancholy on her brow revealing that the Christian life will have an element of effort and ideals not fully realized. And yet, she maintains a serene posture, and we are invited to ponder her tranquil face and the flow of her robes and rest in the vision of the true cross.
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, “Sacrifice of Isaac,” 1603
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and became the father of many nations (Romans 4:18).
Two of the most transformational developments in human history were the search for justice and the discovery of the future and our relation to time. Unlike the beasts, humans understand that if we save the seed corn, we can plant it later and receive another crop. If we want to atone for a wrong we have done, some form of sacrifice will be required. As our ancestors stumbled in their search for understanding, they created many gods. The idea of sacrificing one’s offspring could not have been foreign to Abraham, but could he accept it? Could he obey? How could Abraham reconcile that demand of God with the earlier promise that through Isaac God would make of Abraham a great nation? Now God wants Abraham to kill Isaac: Was he like all those other gods? No, this strange, almost unimaginable test ends when Abraham was asked by Isaac, Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb? As we climb up the mountain of time, we see that God Himself provided a ram for the sacrifice, and in both the ram for the sacrifice and in Isaac, the son of promise, we have types of Jesus Christ: God incarnate, the only son of Mary, who freely offered himself as sacrifice in atonement for our sins and for the sins of the whole world.
"The Astronomer," 1668
Johannes Vermeer (Dutch Republic, 1632-1675)
This Dutch Baroque painter carried Caravaggio's realism to its ultimate expression, creating a masterpiece harmonizing space, color and light to cast a glow on one single, human activity-studying the universe. A painter ahead of his time, Vermeer created his own special brushwork effects which anticipated twentieth-century techniques. His use of light and his devotion to verisimilitude with his sophisticated use of perspective make him one of the greatest painters in dissolving contours and eliminating any sense of line. A combination of interlocking diagonal, rectangular and elliptical fields bring the focus to one figure who is profoundly preoccupied with the celestial globe. The moment of discovery is captured as this man of science evokes the youthful freshness of knowledge, his face highlighting centuries of human fascination with the universe. We are drawn in, beyond the globe at hand, into the mysterious continuum of time and space familiar to all stargazers, old and new.
"The Return of the Prodigal Son," 1669
Rembrandt van Rijn (The Netherlands, 1606-1669)
Rembrandt van Rijn (The Netherlands, 1606-1669)
Painted just months before the artist's death, this depiction of the return of the repentant son pleading on his knees before his father reminds us of God's relentless love for us. The father's face shines like a star in the night sky, bringing a light of consolation to the countenance of the forgiven child. The red wrap frames the entire painting in a serene canopy of mercy. The distinct hands of the father clutch the son's shoulders, as well as our own, in an eternal embrace of forgiveness.
Francisco Goya, "The Third of May 1808," 1814
This work is one of a pair of paintings (the second being Goya’s “The Second of May 1808”) focusing on the suppression and mass executions of Spanish civilians who had risen against Napoleon’s troops on May 2, 1808. Goya desired we first see the Christ figure as the victim kneeling with his arms outstretched, illumined by the yellow light of the lantern, before we notice the faceless soldiers of the firing squad. This modern war machine contrasts with the unity of will in David’s “Oath of the Horatii,” thus highlighting the anonymity of modern warfare. Madrid’s Royal Palace is the dark shape in the background. Note the whites of the eyes betraying terror, along with the red in the skin color creating a chiaroscuro effect. The depiction of sheer brutality and emotion mark Goya’s passage from Neoclassicism to a budding Romanticism characteristic of contemporary art. In his diary the artist wrote, “No one is innocent once he has seen what I have seen.”
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, “Portrait of Comtesse d'Haussonville,” 1845
This icon of Neoclassicism, one of the most celebrated pieces in America, distinguishes the Frick Collection and even graced the cover of Life Magazine in 1937. The pregnant sitter, Louise de Broglie, granddaughter of Madame de Stael, has just returned from the opera. The painting is a window into her world as we see her opera glasses behind the mantle and her yellow shawl casually tossed on the chair. Note her fashionable, turquoise snake ring which was designed “a la Cleopatre,” and the surprise flutter of her blonde eyelashes. Ingres, who signed his name on the side of the chair, perfects the slender brushstroke with the lace of her dress. His devotion to accuracy is balanced with a touch of creative anatomy. The placement of the Comtesse’s arms is physically unachievable and the finger in the mirror shouldn’t be visible. This was not a mistake, but Ingres’ way of inventing a vision of loveliness not fully grounded in reality, thus making this work a stunning display of the tension between precision and impossible beauty.
Emanuel Leutze "Washington Crossing the Delaware," 1851
The European revolutions of 1848 inspired this German-American artist to commemorate Washington’s victorious crossing with the Continental Army on the night of December 25, 1776 during the American Revolution. Note Leutze’s use of unnatural bright color spotlighting Washington’s face, illuminated by the sun. Red highlights are repeated throughout the painting to emphasize the suspense of a battle at dawn. The distance of the boats creates a foreshortening perspective to bring depth to the artistic composition. Originally part of three oil-on-canvas pieces, the paintings are brimming with symbolism as one was destroyed in Germany during World War II by Allied Forces and another made its home in the White House for many years. The diversity of the American colonies, represented by the cross-section of the people in the boat with a Scottish bonnet, an African man, several farmers and a Native American, is celebrated in this dynamic masterpiece.
Jean-Francois Millet, “The Angelus,” 1857
“The idea for The Angelus came to me because I remembered that my grandmother, hearing the church bell ringing while we were working in the fields, always made us stop work to say the Angelus prayer for the poor departed.” These words from the artist remind us of this timeless prayer which commemorates the Annunciation made to Mary by the angel Gabriel. We can almost hear the ringing of the bell in the distance from the church tower of Chailly-en-Biere. Millet was one of the most important realist painters in France as artists moved out of the Romanticism of the nineteenth century. He was a part of the Barbizon movement which depicted farmers, everyday life and the rural experience with loose brushwork and softness of form.
Winslow Homer "Snap the Whip," 1872
This painting was displayed at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia celebrating childhood and exuberance in the period after the Civil War. A group of young boys are playing the age-old game called, "Snap the Whip," in which they line up to hold hands as they attempt to fling away one boy at the end of the chain and send him flying so the ground. Homer's red, rural, one-room school house ties the scene together, symbolizing a nation coming together after the bitter years of war. This scene of joyous energy reminds us of our own student body at HCCS.
Jacques-Louis David, “Oath of the Horatii,” 1874
One of the best known pieces of the neoclassical style, David’s painting visits the war between Rome and Alba Longa in the 7 th century B.C. Two sets of triplet brothers, the Horatii and Curiatii, must settle the war with a fight to the death. Here, they are shown saluting their father who holds their swords out for them. The women know that they will also bear the consequence of the battle because the two families are united by marriage. David’s ordered, linear brushstrokes radically cut off the space with the arches and pushes the action to the foreground in the manner of Roman relief sculpture. The message is personal sacrifice and duty for the good of one’s country.
Auguste Renoir, “Luncheon of the Boating Party,” 1881
This oeuvre, housed in the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. is the perfect celebration of youthful joy. Renoir’s depiction of a meal on the balcony at the Maison Fournaise in Chatou, France is a wonder of plein-air painting uniting within one image traditional figure painting along with still life and landscape. Renoir called his depictions “impressions,” making him a leader in the movement of Impressionism, which depicted reality through the marriage of light and color. Relying less on formal structure and more on the freedom of technique, Impressionists cherished the immediacy of movement and broken-hued brilliance in color. While the models in the painting were all friends of the artist, including the painter Caillebotte sitting backward in his chair and the artist’s future wife, cooing at her terrier, we are also meant to see ourselves in the painting. As with much of modern art, the viewer is looking in and being looked at simultaneously.
Gustav Klimt, "Portrait of Adele-Bloch Bauer I," 1907
This portrait, commissioned by the sitter’s Jewish husband, is the only woman Klimt ever painted twice, and the work completes the artist’s “golden phase.” Klimt was a founding member of the fin-de-siecle Vienna Secessionist movement which, while breaking with tradition, also looked to the past by studying ancient civilizations. The rectilinear forms on Adele’s dress highlight the artist’s fascination with Byzantine art and she resembles the mosaic of the Empress Theodora in Ravenna. Her hands clasped expressively together seem to hide a deformity and the sea of gold around her neck accentuate her fragile figure often beset with illness. Adele’s childlessness is perhaps the reason for her melancholic expression. Indeed, the painting can be described as a modern “Mona Lisa” and combines secular motifs along with a sacred aura. Klimt used an elaborate technique with gold and silver leaf and added ornamental touches using “gesso” or a chalk-style base. The Nazis stole the painting in 1941 and the Galerie Belvedere housed it until a niece of the Bloch-Bauer’s fought for 7 years to have the portrait returned. She subsequently sold it, for the highest price ever paid for a painting, to the co-founder of the Neue Galerie on Fifth Avenue in New York City where it remains to this day.
Catholic Schools Week is a time to celebrate the mission of educating children to embrace what is True, Good, and Beautiful. We use this opportunity to immerse our students into the richness of the classical education offered at our school and into the traditions of the Catholic Church. Enjoy these photos from our Catholic Schools Week tradition of honoring a work of art in our hallway through imitation!
Doctors of the Church
Holy Child Catholic School is committed to preserving our Catholic intellectual tradition. This is why each of our classrooms is named after a Doctor of the Church.
At the bottom of each page of this website, you will see a photo of a Doctor of the Church and the classroom that honors that particular doctor.