The rich history of the Christian church -- with its centuries of dramas, splendors, achievements, and controversies -- has long provided a deep source of inspiration for artists. Our own cultural familiarity with the historical aspects of this tradition, however, has waned in recent years. Thus, there exists an odd paradox: works of art have never been more carefully preserved and enhanced; museum exhibitions and visits to view artwork in churches and cathedrals have never been more popular. Yet the historical events and theological ideals depicted in such artistic masterpieces are quite often unknown or misunderstood.
The History of the Church through 100 Masterpieces has been designed to give that deeper meaning back to our experience of these paintings by providing insightful descriptions of the stories they purport to tell. Jacques Duquesne and Francois Lebrette choose a beautiful array of works -- some already well known to us as visual images -- to discuss, recounting both the historical events and the religious and cultural background surrounding them.