Architecture Paper on Saint Paul the Hermit Fed by a Raven

The relevance of art to a specific social and cultural context and its ability to be used as a moratorium of a particular time and place makes it worthwhile for consideration as a museum artifact. From drawings to sculptures, artists use different elements of art to portray a specific message and represent aspects of religion, culture, and the economics of life. Museums select pieces of art based on what they desire to tell their visitors about. Pieces that appear quintessential can create an impact on the viewers that attracts them repeatedly based on how a museum uses them to communicate its values, principles, and beliefs (Massaro and others par. 5). Christian religious beliefs, for instance, are described through art pieces that use a combination of colors, materials, and figures to bring about the context as well as the intended biblical message. The 1660 oil on canvas painting that depicts a raven feed Saint Paul the Hermit being is one of the impactful pieces of art that not only serve as museum items but also communicate to the viewer more deeply than what meets the eye.

The Painting

Figure 1 shows the painting of Saint Paul the Hermit Fed by a Raven. At first, a viewer may confuse the image with that of a raven feeding Prophet Elijah, which could depict the Old Testament story in the Bible. The artist used different hues of brown to portray the image of an old or rather dusty environment that the picture is intended to portray (Kokkov 160). From the subject of the painting to the items surrounding him, the picture portrays an image of longevity, uncertainty, and a distant ray of hope in one ball. The combination of different features brings out the depth of the story of Saint Paul the hermit. According to a seventeenth-century story, Saint Paul left his wealthy home after the death of his parents to avoid being killed. He later spent years in the desert praying and fasting, during which ravens fed him as in the story of Elijah in the desert. The two stories are similar to a huge extent in that Elijah too had fled to avoid being killed after his prophecy of the doom of the king of Israel. Understanding the use of different art elements in the painting and what they mean in the in the composition requires an understanding of the initial story and how art elements contribute to communication (Wahab and Others 480).

Figure 1: Saint Paul the Hermit Fed by a Raven

One of the most communicative art elements is color. Colors are used to portray differences in texture, shapes, as well as the items in a picture. Through the use of different color shades in Figure 1, the painter shows a disparity between the person, raven, and other features of the painting. The distinctions also help to depict a naturalistic perspective to the viewer (Nascimento and Others 76). While less naturalistic colors may not affect the aesthetic features of a piece of art, they reflect the environment in which the hermit exited and was fed by the Ravens. The unadulterated desert in its naturalness provided the only companionship to the subject of the picture. The naturalistic colors also reflect the expected relationship between God and his people, and between man and the natural environment. Additionally, the color distinctions show differences between the disillusionment of the world and the optimism that the heavens provide. These differences reflect the status of the subject at the time portrayed in the painting, whereby the pain of being a fugitive is absorbed by the joy of being hopeful in the Lord.

The museum is believed to be characterized by social activity and production. A collection, which is the product of a museum, is considered organic, responsive, and capable of evolving (West 14). The Saint Paul the hermit painting depicts these qualities through the interactions of the natural elements in the composition. The artist uses the combination of shapes to show harmony as well as the hope that a man can place in elements of nature instead of other men.  Contrasting shapes are used to portray difference and harmony in the picture through the subject (Kim, Son and Jeong par. 5). In a way, the unity of nature and the subject is portrayed starkly alongside the differences between the two.

Painters and other artists across the world go a long way in trying to ensure their productions are perceived as intended. In the case of the picture under consideration, the artist presents a challenge to the conventional Bible story enthusiasts regarding their expectations. Through the combination of different color tones, shapes, and items, the painter managed to portray popular Elijah being fed by a raven as expected by the viewers. The uniqueness of the picture and the suspense point, however, lies in the painter’s description of the image as that of Saint Paul the hermit. Consequently, as a museum item, the picture not only draws the attention of the viewer but also attracts massive interest in the subject himself.



Works Cited

Kim, Daniel, Son, Seoung-Woo, Jeong, Hawoong. Large-scale quantitative analysis of painting arts. Scientific Reports, vol. 4, no. 7370. Retrieved from

Kokkov, Anne. The intentionality of colours in Konrad Magi’s paintings. Baltic Journal of Art History, vol. 8(14), 157- 188. Retrieved from

Massaro, David, Savazzi, Federica, Di Dio, Cinzia, Freedberg, David, Gallese, Vittorio, Gilli, Gabriella, and others. When art moves the eyes: a behavioral and eye-tracking study. PLoS ONE, vol. 7, no. 5, (2012), e37285.

Nascimento, Sergio S.C., Linhares, Joao M.M., Montagna, Cristina, Joao, Catarina A.R., Amano, Kinjiro, Alfaro Catarina and Bailao, Ana. The colors of paintings and viewers’ preferences. Vision Research, vol. 130, (2017), 76- 84. Retrieved from

Wahab, Mohamad Hanif Abdul and Zuhardi, Alia Fatin Ahmad. Human visual quality: art gallery exhibition. Procedia- Social and Behavioral Sciences, vol. 101, (2013), 476- 487. Retrieved from

West, Kim. The exhibitionary complex: exhibition, apparatus and media, from Kulturhuset to the Center Pompidou, 1963- 1977. Sodertorn University Publications, 2017. Retrieved from