Art and the bible

The first President of the Royal Academy, Sir Joshua Reynolds, encouraged artists to paint or sculpt historical subjects. One of the greatest sources for artists was the Bible as it was here, Reynolds explained, that many stories with 'some eminent instance of heroic action or heroic suffering' could be found. As well as examples of these biblical subject from the 18th century onwards, the Royal Academy also collected masterpieces of the Renaissance in the form of copies or engravings to inspire its Members and students.
Craigie Aitchison RA, `Crucifixion 1988/89`, oil on canvas, 1988/89. © Royal Academy of Arts, London

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