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Religion plays a key role in the lives of billions across the world. It is thus not surprising that the artworks produced by mankind depict the influence religion has on humans. In the West, during Renaissance period, the rich used to call artists for painting on religious themes and then donated them to churches and other religious places.
The world has followers of many religions and each religion's paintings are a showcase of its values and teachings. There are three religions with the largest number of followers namely Christianity, Islam and Judaism so we will discuss the art of these religions only.
Amongst the three religions mentioned, Christian art is perhaps the most expressive. The other religions do not allow such expressiveness. Most of the Christian paintings depict scenes involving Jesus Christ or his mother Mary. Other subjects include illustrations from the Bible. After the fall of Rome, the Western Roman Empire was supported by Catholic Church and the Eastern Roman Empire was supported by the Orthodox Christians. They began glorifying Christianity in their own way. Each hired artists to make religious paintings and sculptors.
The Islamic art has its own unique style. Since Quran was in Arabic, people laid great emphasis on writing Arabic beautifully. This led to a distinctive form of art called calligraphy. People painted everything from the names of Allah and Prophet Muhammad to the verses of Quran. Later on during the Abbasside Caliphate, art flourished throughout the Islamic domain. Portraits of rulers in Persia and India were also painted. Apart from that illustrations appeared in literature books.
Jewish art began flourishing when it was influenced by the Roman and Greek styles of painting. They started to illustrate the incidents from their Holy Scripture. Jewish art also has hidden iconology in it. Some of the famous paintings of Judaic art are "The Ten Commandments", "The Sacrifice of Isaacs" and many more.
The Last Supper
"The Last Supper" is a very famous painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. It was painted in 1498 and shows Jesus with his twelve apostles. It is painted on a well-known incident from the Bible in which Jesus announces that one of the twelve companions will betray him which will result in his leaving the Earth.
Yousaf and Zulaikha
"Yousaf and Zulaikha" is a painting belonging to Islamic art. It was painted by Behzad in 1488. This painting shows an incident which is narrated in the Quran. It depicts the lust which Zulaikha had developed for Yousaf.
The Praying Jew
"The Praying Jew" is a painting of the Judaic art which was painted by Marc Chagall. It shows a Jewish rabbi who is wearing a shawl and is praying. According to Chagall, the subject was a beggar who posed as the rabbi.
Religious paintings help a person reiterate their religious resolve and can help in spiritual healing. The person can remember their Holy Scripture by just looking at an illustration depicting a scene from the Book. Religious paintings are necessary for spiritual uplift and take people out of the materialistic world in which we live in.