The Exhibition

What makes religious imagery powerful and enduring? How do historical and contemporary artworks engage the viewer in questions of belief?

This exhibition explores these questions by confronting historical Christian art with contemporary art that continues to engage with the same visual tradition. The works were selected from two very different collections. Those from The Courtauld Gallery were originally created as devotional objects. They were understood to be imbued with sacred power and to inspire empathy with the suffering and compassion of the Virgin Mary and Christ.

Works from the Arts Council Collection demonstrate how a variety of contemporary artists continue to evoke and rework religious imagery.  Although their works may not be religious in intent, they can command a similarly strong emotional response to the enduring themes of belief, doubt, suffering and compassion. Displayed together the works are surprisingly resonant in form and meaning, inviting us to consider continuities and change in the use of religious imagery throughout history.

Podcasts from the exhibition

Listen to an introduction to the exhibition

Exhibition booklet


Press Release


Fact Sheet


Photo Sheet