Art, Science, and Religion

In today’s seminar, we had a special opportunity to go visit an art gallery a few doors down from our classroom. However, this was not just an ordinary gallery consisting of random pieces of art. When I walked in, I was very surprised at what I saw: paintings of religious events and icons. When Dr. Liu started to speak about how art, religion, and science were all related, I was confused at first, because I had never associated any of those things together. However, after reading the pamphlet from “Expanding Frames of Reference: Art, Science, and Religion in the Physica Sacra of Johann Jakob Scheuchzer,” it all became clear to me.

Dr. Liu vividly explained “Physica Sacra plate CCCLXXI” and how it relates to art, science, and religion. While gazing at this picture, I immediately noticed that the sun was the focal point of the picture. The beams of light emanating from it show its radiant power. In Dr. Liu’s analysis, he explained that the moon couldn’t be full when it is in the daytime sky, and thus it was a miracle. The painter conveyed this miracle in his painting by highlighting the sun and the moon as if these all powerful, radiant celestial beings were frozen in time. Along the border of the painting, there are a series of diagrams that show the expected illumination patterns of the world at different times during the day and night. I find this the most interesting part of the painting; it makes us think of the entire world as a whole, rather than just think of ourselves. The sun is perceived as this display of grandeur and power, possibly an allegory for God, that covers the entire earth and gives us light to see when we do not know where to go. The artistic, scientific, and religious aspects of this picture come together to create something beautiful.