Caravaggio & The Incredulity of Saint Thomas

A portrait of the Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

At one point or another, the painting The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio has roused the mind. It famously depicts Saint Thomas in disbelief at the resurrection of Jesus. Having heard of his return, Saint Thomas is quoted saying, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” [John 20:25]

In a bizarre attempt to break Thomas’s lack of faith, weeks later Jesus approaches him guiding Thomas’s finger into the wound on his side, as requested. In response, Jesus says, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Which sounds like a rather sarcastic jab at the fact that one of his own Apostles has lost trust in the word of God.

Regardless of faith, we can’t dismiss the fact that the 17th century Italian artist, Caravaggio, was profoundly moved by the occurrence. From 1601 through 1602, Caravaggio worked on the oil painting to depict one of his the most dynamic and memorable chiaroscuro painting to date.

According to modern day scholars, Caravaggio left behind minimal explanation through the process of his work and this has haunted admirers dearly. A small amount of words have been left by his predecessors on the matter as well. Through painstakingly scientific testing, the results show that he rarely sketched this subjects but through the direct use of paint he achieved precision. The YouTube Channel ARTEnet has a fantastic video replicating the artist’s entire creative process. The modern day painter behind the camera provides us with work equivalent in quality and detail, thus making this video essential for amateur painters.

In our own modern times, the position of each person in the painting has attracted emulation of various forms. Most commonly in our own scene, the all female variation by Petrina Hicks has made its rounds thanks to Vaporwave artist, chris†††. In this new wave / glitch-hop album, the comparison between both the photograph and the original painting accompanies a white background and the signature “†††”. By fusing the modern and original, a more intimate and curious effect washes the mind.

I had always thought the female variation was a stock photo poking fun at a possible liposuction surgery or (because of my own experience) the removal of the appendix. Yet, countless other variations exist to the point that one might say the theme of the original is nearing pop culture. For a deeper dive on the imagery of modern interpretations, I suggest this article, in which the below images are credited.

Of the Five Holy Wounds, the one on Jesus’s side attracts the most interest it seems. The wounds on his hands and feet reflect the struggle of life on the cross, yet it was the Lance of Longinus that was used to determine if Jesus had truly died. As the saying go, with death comes life, and this moment in history has left an everlasting effect on the rebirth on the interpretation and mankind is better off because of it. — KITE0080


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