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Monday, October 13, 2014

Three Dutch Kinds of Marriage


After: Hendrick Goltzius (1558 – January 1, 1617)
Print made by: Jan Saenredam (C.1565-1607) 
Three kinds of marriages: Marriage for love officiated by Cupid; Cupid stands between a young, finely attired couple who face each other and hold hands
c 1595
Engraving
235 millimetres x 163 millimetres
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam




After: Hendrick Goltzius (1558 – January 1, 1617)
Print made by: Jan Saenredam (C.1565-1607) 
Three kinds of marriages: Marriage for wealth officiated by Satan; Satan stands between a finely attired couple who face each other and hold hands 
c 1595
Engraving
235 millimetres x 163 millimetres
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam




After: Hendrick Goltzius (1558 – January 1, 1617)
Print made by: Jan Saenredam (C.1565-1607) 
Three kinds of marriages: Marriage for spiritual love officiated by Jesus Christ; Jesus blesses the couple who face each other and hold hands; the bride holds a palm and resembles a female saint
c 1595
Engraving
235 millimetres x 163 millimetres
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam


The three prints are from a series of three plates showing three different kinds of marriage, engraved by Saenredam after designs by Hendrick Goltzius

The set was first published in Haarlem by Goltzius around 1595

This set was numerously copied by Dutch and German printmakers up to the eighteenth century

Goltzius was an internationally acclaimed engraver, print publisher, draftsman, and painter,and was one of the outstanding figures in Dutch art during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries

In the late 1580s, he was at the height of his success and created some of the most spectacular pieces in the history of prints

When Goltzius was only a year old, he fell headfirst into the fireplace and burned both his hands on the red-hot coals. His right hand was permanently deformed. Despite this he was capable of exceptional virtuosity, and one of the greatest draftsmen of his time.

At the age of 21 Goltzius married a rich widow Margaretha Jansdr in 1579. It was she who  helped him set up a workshop

In Holland at the time the role of the family as the basis of society was strongly emphasised

Physical attraction was only one of the factors to be taken into account. Spiritual and mental connection between spouses also had to exist as the basis for life long companionship

In a strongly Protestant Holland ruled by Catholic Spain, prints on the ideal Christian marriage were popular

In the third image we see the sacramentality of marriage as well as a union declared indissoluble in terms of Divine command

In the third print which obviously contrasts with the two others, we see Christ himself officiating at the Sacrament of marriage. 

The man is more mature. The woman holds a palm the symbol of purity

The inscription reads: "Quos connectit amor verus, castumque cubile / Auspice iunguntur Christo, remanentque fideles." - Those who are joined by true love and a chaste marriage bed will be faithful to each other

In the background of the image the husband receives a  crown from his wife. The other images have other background images which show that the other relationships are destined to lead to unhappiness, loneliness and vice

Mutual fidelity and not simply fidelity on the part of the wife towards the husband is what is being depicted

But more than that, mutual affection and love  which are absent from the other two images

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Trinitarian Love


Unknown Peruvian
Sacred Conversation between St. Felix de Valois and St. Juan de la Mata
18th century
Oil on canvas
55.50 cm x 75.50 cm
The British Embassy, Bogota


The painting is by an unknown Peruvian artist in the 18th century, a mixture of European Baroque and indigenous influences, perhaps part of the Cuzco school (Escuela Cuzqueña),  the Roman Catholic artistic tradition based in Cuzco, Peru (the former capital of the Inca Empire) 

Its influence extended through Peru, Chile, and northern Argentina and beyond

The painting depicts two saints: St. Felix de Valois  (April 16, 1127 – November 4, 1212) and St. Juan de la Mata, (1150 - 1213)  both co-founders of the Trinitarian Order, the Order founded for the redemption of captives 

The Rule of the Order was approved by Innocent III on December 17, 1198 with the bull Operante Divine Dispositionis. 

It is the first official institution in the Church dedicated to the service of redemption and unarmed, with no other weapon beside Divine Mercy, and with the only purpose of returning hope to the brothers in the faith who suffer under the burden of captivity.

Here we see the two saints in  the forest or desert of Cerfroid, near Paris where the mother house of the whole order presently is

Margaret of Blois granted the order twenty acres of the wood where Felix had built his first hermitage, and on almost the same spot he erected the famous monastery of Cerfroi, the mother-house of the institute. 

Within forty years the order possessed six hundred monasteries in almost every part of the world.

The stag is a symbol for Christ, who tramples and destroys the Devil. The stag is the enemy of the Snake, the symbol of the Evil One. Both are visible in the painting

For more on the symbolism of the stag and the snake see The Medieval Bestiary

In the 7th century, St Isidore of Seville wrote in his  Etymologiae about the stag:

[They] are foes of snakes, and when they feel that they are weighed down with  weakness they draw snakes out from their holes by the breath of their nostrils and  overcoming the deadly poison they  refresh themselves by eating them. They made known the plant dittany. For they eat it, and shake out the arrows that have stuck in them. 
They give a wondering attention to the whistling sound of the Pan’s pipes. They  listen sharply with up-pricked ears, not with hanging ears. If ever they swim across great rivers or seas, they lay the head on the haunch of the one in front, and following one another in turn they feel no weariness from the weight
The name of the hermitage "Cerfroid" has significance. The French for stag is "Cerf". The place is therefore the place of the Cold Stag, or Winter Stag

The arch also has significance in the founding of the Order.

The church of San Tommaso in Formis in Rome is the church which Pope Innocent III gave to the Trinitarian Order. Saint John of Matha, lived there and made it the Order's headquarters

The Church is situated beside a Roman aqueduct and the ruin of the Arch of Dolabella and Silanus on the Caelian Hill

St John of Matha died there on 2 December 1213. His cell can still be seen

From the very beginning of the Order, a life of special dedication to the Most Holy Trinity has been an essential and characteristic element of the Order’s patrimony

The painting is a contemplation on the fons et origo of the Order

Members of the Order consecrate themselves to the Trinity in a further and special way “since God willed that we, among all other religious, be the chosen vessels to bear the wonderful title of the Most Holy Trinity throughout the world"


"Work, effort and freely given love are all summed up in the Rule of St John of Matha, in the words Ministro e sine proprio (Trinitarian Rule, n. 1). Indeed, the Trinitarians know, and we should all learn from them, that every responsibility or authority in the Church should be lived out as a service. 
Therefore, our action must be divested of any desire for profit or personal promotion and must always aim at sharing any talents we have received from God, in order to direct them, as good stewards, towards the end for which they have been granted to us, so as to give relief to the less fortunate. 
This is what interests Christ and that is why the homes of your Family are homes whose “doors are always open” in fraternal welcome (Direttorio primitivo delle Suore Trinitarie, n. 2, cf. Evangelii Gaudium, n. 46)."

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Wrong doing


L'Ortolano (1485–c.1527)
Woman Taken in Adultery
1524–1527
Oil on panel
71.6 x 87.3 cm
The Courtauld Gallery, London




Rembrandt van Rijn 1606 - 1669
The Woman taken in Adultery
1644
Oil on oak
83.8 x 65.4 cm
The National Gallery, London


The event depicted is told in John 8

The Scribes and Pharisees, knowing that Jesus took pity on wrong-doers, tried to catch him condoning disobedience to the Law. 

They brought a woman to him who had been caught in the act of adultery and said, 'Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?' 

Christ replied, 'He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her' 

He started to write in the dust. The crowd gradually dispersed

Only Jesus and the woman were left at the scene
"10 Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 
11 She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more.” "

Of this passage in Scripture, Pope Benedict XVI said:
"St John the Evangelist highlights one detail: while his accusers are insistently interrogating him, Jesus bends down and starts writing with his finger on the ground. St Augustine notes that this gesture portrays Christ as the divine legislator: in fact, God wrote the law with his finger on tablets of stone (cf. Commentary on John's Gospel, 33,5). 
Thus Jesus is the Legislator, he is Justice in person. 
And what is his sentence? "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her". These words are full of the disarming power of truth that pulls down the wall of hypocrisy and opens consciences to a greater justice, that of love, in which consists the fulfilment of every precept (cf. Rom 13: 8-10). 
This is the justice that also saved Saul of Tarsus, transforming him into St Paul (cf. Phil 3: 8-14)."