Christianity is another country, says John Drury, and we need to familiarize ourselves with it in order to understand the universal meaning of its art. In this beautifully written book, Drury, an Anglican priest and theologian, looks at religious paintings through the ages and presents them to us in a fresh way-as works filled with passion, stories, and meaning. They become the poetry of such eternal human concerns as birth, death, sacrifice, love, and moral goodness and failure.
Drury points out the religious meanings in paintings that range from works by Piero della Francesca to those by Velazquez. In each case he views the whole picture-its composition, color, drawing, figures, and even architecture-and shows how it creates a religious image that addresses the spectator as a spiritual human being. Drury also provides a historical context for the works, comparing our perception with the perceptions of, for example, the medieval monarch or the Renaissance merchant who first commissioned the work. He examines how these pictures are able to speak to audiences across time and space, and in the process he allows us to respond to them at a more imaginative, empathetic level.