Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Missionary's Adventures

Jehan Georges Vibert [1840-1902]
The Missionary's Adventures
Oil on wood; 39 x 53 in. (99.1 x 134.6 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

A monk is recounting his adventures of his work in the Missions. He has been injured in the course of his work.

A copy of The Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew by Ribera hangs on the wall.

It was painted at the time the Third Republic was actively pushing for the separation of church and state. It seems to make the state's case.

Vibert describes the scene thus:

In the novel, Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Sibert Cather (December 7, 1873 – April 24, 1947), the Prologue scene is inspired by this painting.
"It was a painting, by the way, that made the first scene of that story [Death Comes for the Archbishop] for me. A French painter, Vibert, one who did a precise piece of work in the manner of his day, called 'The Missionary's Return'"
(Small, Harold. "Willa Cather Tells 'Secret' Novel's Title." San Francisco Chronicle 26 March 1931)