Spiritual Realism On Display at Gallery of Art

Rare exhibit at National Gallery of Art features religious works of extreme realism.

By Kathy Banks
|  Friday, Feb 26, 2010  |  Updated 5:31 PM EDT
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Spiritual Realism On Display at Gallery of Art

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Infanta Cristina studies a piece of art during the opening reception for 'The Sacred Made Real' exhibition at the National Gallery of Art on February 24, 2010 in Washington, DC.

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You can walk behind a life-size figure of Christ and see awful wounds on his back after he had been whipped.

That's just one of 20 realistic Spanish masterpieces that will be on view at the National Gallery of Art starting Sunday.

"The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture, 1600-1700" will showcase works by Diego Velazquez, Francisco de Zurbaran and other notable artists of that time who created pieces of extreme realism for the Catholic Church.

According to the National Gallery, "to revitalize the Catholic Church and counteract Protestantism, painters and sculptors attempted to make images of Christ, the Virgin, and saints as convincing and accessible as possible. This realism was starkly austere, emotionally gripping, and even gory, intended to shock the senses and stir the soul."

Many of the pieces have never been on display outside of Spanish churches or monasteries.

The exhibit will be on view in the National Gallery's East Building from Sunday through the end of May.

For more information, click here.

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