Pentecost: the descent of the Holy Spirit

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’ All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’ Acts 2:1-13

Palatine Chapel, Palermo, 12th century.
Giotto, 1304-06.
Duccio, 1308-11.
Giotto and workshop, c. 1310-18.
Taddeo Gaddi, 1335-40.
Master of the Dominican Effigies, about 1340.
Bohemian Master, c. 1414.
Attributed to Stefano da Verona, c. 1430-35.
Hans Multscher, wings of the Wurzach Altar, 1437
Jean Fouquet, 1452-60.
Pinturicchio, Descent of the Holy Spirit, 1492-95. Sala dei Misteri, Borgia Apartments.
Botticelli, Descent of the Holy Spirit, 1495-1505.
French Book of Hours, c. 1500.
Colijn de Coter, Descent of the Holy Spirit, c. 1500.
Choirstall, Amiens Cathedral, 1508-19.
Albrecht Dürer, 1510.
Lucas van Leyden, 1530.
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Follower of Bernard van Orley, c. 1530.
Portuguese, 1540-50.
Santi di Tito, 1598.
El Greco, Pentecost, c. 1600. / WGA

Fernando Marías:

Stylistically, El Greco’s art has been labelled as an expression of the Venetian school, and of the anti-naturalistic subjectivism of the international Mannerism of the second half of the 16th century. His distortion of reality is seen as a prefiguration of modern Expressionism and as an instrument by which he could express his visionary, mystical, and religious personality. Despite these concepts, not devoid of historical anachronisms, El Greco’s painting belongs to the framework of the general Italian tendency—demonstrated in writings from Federico Zuccaro to Agostino Carracci—to oppose the ideology represented by Vasari’s categorization. Because of his late assimilation of a Western style, he tackled certain formal problems and, free from prejudice, rejected norms of proportion, relying on Michelangelo’s inventions, and geometrical perspective that he considered superfluous to his purposes, particularly in his search for personal originality. His use of a late Byzantine visual culture and of Venetian colouring, appraisal of naturalism and taste for complexity, and late Cinquecento aestheticism reveal his preference for naturalistic representation in terms that are strikingly visual; this is realized by highly original compositions of elegance and dynamism, executed in a vital style, that tried to fuse Titian and Tintoretto’s art with Michelangelo’s in a very personal way.

Juan Bautista Maíno, Pentecost, 1616-20.
Anthony van Dyck, Pentecost, 1618-20.
Jacques Blanchard, May 1634.
Jacopo Vignali, 1648.
Jean Restout II, 1732.
Joseph Ignaz Mildorfer, 1750s.
Pedro Alexandrinho, Pentecost, 1780.

Also: Maitre de Rohan | Ingeborg PsalterSacramentary of Saint-Étienne | Berthold Sacramentary | Venetian Antiphonary | Ramsey Psalter | French Breviary |

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