Sacrifice of Isaac

Caravaggio, Sacrifice of Isaac, 1603, oil on canvas, Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

As a Counter-Reformation movement, baroque art sought to emotionally involve the viewer in biblical themes and stories. Caravaggio was a quintessential baroque painter. His dramatic use of light and staging brings the action right up to the edge of the canvas.  Abraham is intercepted in the act of slitting his son's throat by the angel who with his right hand prevents the sacrifice and with his left points to the substitute victim — the ram. The lighting directs the eye to scan the scene left to right as it picks out the angel's shoulder and left hand, the confused face of Abraham, the right shoulder and terrified face of Isaac and finally the ram.


The Roman Catholic response to the Protestant Reformation's emphasis on scripture over ritual, works, and hierarchy.

A sixteenth-century movement in Europe that questioned the authority of the Roman Catholic Church.

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