Andy Warhol to Velázquez, sin has impressed centuries of artwork

Sin at the National Gallery Jan Brueghel the Elder The Garden of Eden 1613 Oil on copper 23.7 x 36.8 cm On loan from private collection, Hong Kong ? Private Collection, Hong Kong Image from Terms and conditions: - Each reproduction must credit in full the artist, the title of the work being reproduced and carry the copyright notice as supplied - Any reproduction of Images in electronic form is subject to additional conditions - Web use of these images is permitted only for review/publicity purposes solely in connection with the exhibition and for the duration of the exhibition. The image used online must not exceed 800 pixels along the longest edge and the photographic copyright line as provided by the National Gallery Press Office must appear with the image in every case. Permission for web use of any images still in artist?s copyright (this includes living artists and any artist whose date of death is less than 70 years ago) must be obtained from the Press Office individually in writing. - Social media use of any loan press images (i.e. non-National Gallery Collection) is not permitted. - No cropping etc

Andy Warhol was handed a pamphlet in a New York avenue exhorting him to “Repent and Sin No Extra!”, its enjoyable lettering and cheery exclamation mark as a lot of a draw as its enchantment to his Catholic religion. Two of Warhol’s “pamphlet work” announce this small however substantial exhibition, the starkly admonitory message echoing down the ages simply as sin in all its guises – private, common, spiritual and secular – has impressed swathes of Western artwork.

Examples from the 1500s to the current day mine the theme, however it’s the Christian doctrine of unique sin that’s the root from which all else stems. Just a little Virgin and Little one, 1527, by Jan Gossaert is inscribed with God’s phrases to the serpent who tempted Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, so connecting their expulsion from Paradise with Christ’s beginning, and the opportunity of redemption by way of prayer.

Jan Brueghel the Elder’s beautiful Backyard of Eden, 1613, takes enjoyment of earthly pleasures, the tiny figures of Adam and Eve a discomfiting background presence in a jewel-like menagerie of unique animals, birds and crops.

Because the chief propagandist of the Reformation, Lucas Cranach the Elder got here from a practice very totally different to that of the Catholic Brueghel. Nonetheless, his Adam and Eve, 1526 – strikingly much like his extra overtly erotic Venus and Cupid, 1529 – is hopelessly attractive, and a frank acknowledgement of humanity’s sinfulness.

Jan Brueghel the Elder’s The Backyard of Eden 1613 (Picture: The Nationwide Gallery)

With its nipple-tweaking, Bronzino’s An Allegory with Venus and Cupid (round 1545) sparks suggestively off Tracey Emin’s confession in neon, It Was Simply A Kiss, 2010. Its implications of incest and syphilis ensured that it spent a few of its life behind a curtain, and it was partially repainted when it was acquired by the Nationwide Gallery in 1860.

When sinfulness prevails, ladies are normally accountable. In The Results of Intemperance, 1663-5, the Dutch painter Jan Steen reveals a family succumbing to wickedness whereas the mom is not sensible with drink. Virtually a century on, Hogarth’s cruel satire on 18th century excessive society Marriage-A-la-Mode, 1743, gives a listing of wicked dwelling.

Within the second image within the collection the husband sits dejected, debt-ridden and syphilitic, however his spouse’s cheerful manner certainly suggests her culpability.

The scapegoating of girls is counterbalanced but in addition amplified by the fetishisation of the Virgin Mary. In a portray by Velázquez depicting the Immaculate Conception, a doctrine endorsed a 12 months earlier than this portray was made in 1618-19, the Virgin is a distant, otherworldly determine.

And Ron Mueck’s Youth, 2009, is a pointy reminder of our modern ethical baggage. His sculpture of a younger black man inspecting a stab wound evokes photographs of the risen Christ, but in addition calls to thoughts the tragic blight of knife crime.

To three January 2021

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