Connecting Art and Faith

View the apse of Notre Dame Cathedral.

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L’Abside de Notre-Dame (The Apse of Notre-Dame, Paris)
Etching with engraving and drypoint, c. 1854 by Charles Méryon (French, 1821–1860)
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By Joanna Reiling Lindell ● Thrivent Collection of Religious Art

Art has a way of transporting us places. French artist Charles Méryon’s lovely view of the apse of Notre Dame Cathedral brings us along the banks of the river Seine in Paris. Here, the grand scale of the cathedral is unavoidable, indeed, emphasized by the activity of boats and horses, and people conducting business on the riverbank.

Cathedrals and churches have inspired countless artists to create detailed renderings of the intricate and towering monuments built to worship God in their own communities, and those they visit. These structures were constructed through time as emblems of humanity’s faith and hopes that soar skyward. Architectural buildings can be the central focus of a work of art, and so can the people and surroundings of the structures.

Seeing people cross the bridge toward the place of worship, with birds swirling in the sky above the towers, enlivens the scene. This monument is a part of city life, and daily life, not simply an enormous, awe-inspiring structure.

Joanna Reiling Lindell is the director and curator of the Thrivent Collection of Religious Art.