The following was posted yesterday on The New Liturgical Movement. The posting concerns the reredos at a church in north Oxford, England.
I think one of the problems for anyone with a background in art history is that the paintings, while beautifully executed, remind me of imitation El Greco. El Greco (nee Kyriacos Theotokopoulos) was one of the most renowned artists of the Spanish Renaissance. His paintings are realistic, but they are also full of much spiritual beauty. The elongated figures in his paintings seem to be ascending to God and to be in complete union with him.
The art shown on NLM is beautiful also, but it smacks too much of portraiture. Also, the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Infant Jesus is too matronly for me. But then again, I am used to the paintings of Sassoferrato and Raphael. So there is a very high likelihood that I could be wrong in this area too.
I guess at the end of the day, how you look at these paintings and how you analyze them depends on your aesthetics and personal taste. While I personally do not find them to be beautiful, I’m sure that there are many people who do.