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Light in the Gallery

How to overcome ambivalence and keep our hearers attention in our preaching.

Light in the Gallery
Image: Thomas Barwick / Getty

In a corner gallery on the second floor of the Art Institute of Chicago, one is met with brilliant examples of European realism from the middle and later 19th century. On the walls are paintings by masters like Gustave Courbet, Jean François Millet, Camille Pissarro, and Édouard Manet. Most of them depict quiet rural life—you can almost hear the axe of the wood chopper or the soft bleat of a sheep. You can feel the weariness of the peasant girl who, as the orange sun is setting behind her has spent her whole day with a sickle grasped tightly in her hand. Nothing exciting to see here: just life.

But one painting stands out. It’s the only canvas in this gallery with a religious theme. It’s a Manet entitled Jesus Mocked by Soldiers. Manet, who painted this piece in 1865, isn’t known for religious subjects. “Avant-garde artists in France did not pursue religious themes,” notes the museum in describing the curious piece.

Manet painted no background ...

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