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See also Gods, spirits and demons, Religion
Description of this motif: "Heathens" means irreligious, uncivilized, or unenlightened people, or it may refer to people, who just not acknowledge the God of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. However, in this context the motif is only registered, when the text refers to people of other religions as heathens, or, as it is the case in "The Marsh King''s Daughter", when the foreign gods are referred to as false gods.
Many probably pass this picture unnoticing, yet it contains the essence of poetry. It is Christ descending to Hell, but He is not surrounded by souls in torment; no, these are heathen. The painting is by the Florentine Agnolo Bronzino. The expression of the children's faces is most beautiful in their certainty that they are going to Heaven. Two little ones are already embracing each other; one stretches a hand out to a companion below, and points to himself as if to say, "I am going to Heaven!" All the older people stand around doubting, or hoping, or humbly bowing in prayer to the Lord Jesus.
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: The picture's Italian title is "Cristo al Limbo". According to http://cgfa.sunsite.dk/bronzino/bronzino_bio.htm
"Bronzino was an Italian painter who was the outstanding artist of the Tuscan High Mannerist style. His real name was Agnolo di Cosimo. As court painter to the Medici in Florence, he produced large numbers of portraits as well as religious pictures. His style, which owed much to his teacher Jacopo da Pontormo, is cold, refined, aristocratic, and technically brilliant in its rendering of surface details and colors. His religious works, such as Christ in Limbo (1552, Santa Croce, Florence), show the typical Mannerist characteristics of elongated forms and crowded, angular compositions. His portraits, while highly stylized in their long lines and elegant poses, achieve a formalized stillness that is the ultimate refinement of Mannerism's usually hectic quality. A famous example is the cool, brilliant Portrait of a Young Man (circa 1535, Metropolitan Museum, New York City). His influence on later portraiture extended to the 19th-century French master J. A. D. Ingres."