Paintings | 16th Century | Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called Guercino | Portrait of Blessing Christ | Artwork profile

57 x 46,5 cm
Oil on canvas
1638 ca.


Portrait of Blessing Christ

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called Guercino

The subject
Christ Blessing was an important and widely used iconographic theme going back to the very first examples of Christian art prior to Middle Ages. The established tradition was to place this figure at the top of the apse in early Christian churches so it would dominate the surroundings and be visible from every corner of the building. In painting, the iconography of Christ Pantocrator (as the Blessing Christ was defined, from the Greek “pantocrator – creator of all things”) was widely found in icons on wood in the Byzantine world and in Orthodox Christianity.

The painting
The face of Christ in this painting, attributed to Guercino, is quite similar to an altarpiece depicting the Most Holy Trinity, painted by the master from Cento in 1638 and preserved today in the Church of Saint Mary of the Victory in Rome. The similarity between the two faces is great enough to suggest that the present piece was created as a preparatory work for the altarpiece, also in view of its smaller size. The two works can thus be assumed to have been created during the same period of time, which would have been around 1638.