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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Pelican in Her Piety

David Jones 1895-1974
Pelican in Her Piety
From The Rime of the Ancient Mariner 1929
Engraving
Published: Douglas Cleverdon, Bristol 1929



The text is :

ACCENDAT IN NOBIS / DOMINUS IGNEM SUI / AMORIS ET FLAMMAM / AETERNAE CHARITATIS

Jones converted to Roman Catholicism in 1921, and throughout his life the symbols and liturgy of the church played an important part in his art.

When Jones became a Catholic, under the influence of Eric Gill he read Maritain's "Art et Scholastique". But his theology was poles apart from Gill's.

He developed an understanding of the Thomist definition of art, which he saw as intimately related to the meaning of sacrament.

In 1928 he engraved on copper the series of illustrations to Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner

For his last 20 years, until his death in 1974, he inhabited a single room in Harrow, welcoming visitors but otherwise pursuing his work in isolation. He called that room his "dug-out", but in truth it was almost a monastic cell.

The great religious poetry of the last century has been written at the cutting edge of faith and doubt, wrestling with the absence of God. But for Jones, religious convictions form the backbone of all his work: his poetry and his paintings.