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Religious artworks are prized not just for their innate aesthetic, but for the religious values that they embody. Early religious drawings have been found dating back to the Neolithic period (circa 6,000 B.C.). Examples of religious drawings abound from ancient Egypt, as artists illustrated deities on papyrus manuscripts and temple walls. Though Islam forbids the depiction of Allah and other prophets pictorially, the religion developed a rich tradition of calligraphy to relate their religious narratives via text.
The development of secular art, which abounds today, is a relatively recent invention in the history of Western art. Until the Gothic period around the 12th century, the majority of visual art produced in Europe portrayed figures and scenes from biblical scriptures. During the Renaissance period, artists such as Michelangelo and Raphael created preparatory drawings before embarking on their immense religious frescoes. While modern fine art generally tends to portray secular subjects, religious drawings continue to be produced today throughout the world in traditions ranging from Christianity to Hinduism.
In 1993, a Michelangelo drawing, "The Holy Family With the Infant Baptist on the Rest on the Flight Into Egypt" sold at Christie's for more than $6 million
Religious drawings are executed in a variety of drawing media including ink, chalk, crayon, and pencil. They are collected by the pious and agnostic alike
While Impressionist artists are best known for their secular works, artists such as Édouard Manet also created religious drawings including "Three studies of a seated monk"