Why Are There So Many Religous Paintings?

For hundreds of years the art of painting in Europe really only existed as a function of the Christian religon, which played a dominant role in society. The Church commissioned and used paintings to spread its message. Books were extremely rare and many people did not know how to read. So, most people learned about the scriptures through paintings. Even then it was well understood  that a picture touches emotions more directly than speech and impresses itself more on the memory.

This is The Visitation by Dieric Bouts the Elder painted in 1445. It is a perfect example of "church art" with an Advent theme of Mary and Elizabeth. 

  • what title would you give this work?
  • what do the colors remind you of?
  • are there any visual metaphors in the artwork?
  • would you like to meet these people?
  • what does the art tell you about the subjects? Is this truth or myth based on the Biblical telling of the story?
  • what does this art mean to you?