From Titian to Caravaggio, plague outbreaks have inspired some of the most moving works of art.
It can be hard to find hope during what experts predict to be the peak weeks of the coronavirus epidemic in the USA. But some of the greatest Renaissance and Baroque artists, who lived through plague outbreaks, certainly did find hope during dark times and left behind some of the most moving works of art of Western history in the process. Here are some masterpieces inspired by artists dealing with plague outbreaks.
Antonio Zanchi, The Virgin Appears to the Plague Victims (1666)
Located on the staircase of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, a lay confraternity founded in 1478 in honor of plague protector St. Rocco, this majestic painting by Baroque painter Antonio Zanchi displays the miraculous appearance of the Virgin to the people affected by the 1630 plague in Venice. Composed of two canvases divided by a pillar, this work is characterized by an incredible sense of movement of the bodies of human subjects. Dramatic use of colors further adds to the intensity of the picture, which reminds us of the benevolence of the Virgin to the plague ridden.