Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Guardian Angel

Anteviduto Gramatica (1569-1626)
The Guardian Angel
Oil on canvas in an English carved gilt wood and gesso frame
147.8 by 104.3 cm.; 58 1/4 by 41 in.
Private Collection: Family of the Earl of Rosebery

One of Antiveduto Gramatica's most popular and numerous replicas and workshop variants was the present work.

He painted versions for SantÀgostino in Rome and other churches in Italy.

The Angel, who is dressed in white and holds, and guides a soul by the hands

The artist has painted a visual representation of a soul being led to enlightenment.The faithful follower, personified by the young innocent child, is being led and shown the way of the Truth and the Light by an angel-like figure, dressed in white.

In the early Sixties, when I was growing up, teaching about a Guardian Angel was universal. Now, one wonders if children are taught about Guardian Angels. Or has the idea been discarded?

Interestingly, in September 2008, Time Magazine reported:

"More than half of all Americans believe they have been helped by a guardian angel in the course of their lives, according to a new poll by the Baylor University Institute for Studies of Religion. In a poll of 1700 respondents, 55% answered affirmatively to the statement, "I was protected from harm by a guardian angel." The responses defied standard class and denominational assumptions about religious belief; the majority held up regardless of denomination, region or education — though the figure was a little lower (37%) among respondents earning more than $150,000 a year. "

In The Acceptance of a Gift by Susanna Tamaro, Ms Tamaro wrote:

""Unfortunately, I don't have a particularly happy memory of my first encounter with Catholic doctrine. I recall a freezing hall, the sing-song voice of a priest who was talking about strange stories which I could not follow through to the end and the chorus of our answers spoken out loud, always the same and always incomprehensible.

Within me, there were already great and terrible questions which were boiling. Why is there evil? Why does everything end? Why are we born? Why do we die? And instead of answers, I only received some «stories» which were not able to draw me in their folds. I had been waiting for the beginning of catechism with great excitement, I hoped to receive some answers to my worries, but that excitement, afternoon after afternoon, parable after parable, was slowly dissipating, leaving me more and more unsatisfied and deluded....

I remember my childhood like a prolonged insomnia, sometimes I had the impression that my head would explode for the many questions floating in it, for the total absence of an adult who was capable of taking me by the hand and accompanying me through the answers. In this absolute solitude of mine, only two images were very peaceful for me: the Guardian Angel and the Holy Spirit. Both had vaporous, white wings, both lived next to men, but were not men, they flew above us, participating in the events of the earth without being captured, far from hate and betrayal which had killed Jesus.

In my book of doctrine, The Guardian Angel was represented next to a child who, having his books under his arm, is crossing the street to go to school. And so, effectively, I felt his presence in every moment of the day and night: behind, above me, to my right. He alleviated my solitude, to him, in a silent way, I spoke and asked advice. The Angle, however, was «easy» to understand. Less understandable was that strange dove which emanated light and who, in ways absolutely beyond my reach, was kin with Jesus and God and Abraham.

The day of Confirmation I remember having raised my eyes to the sky to look for, amongst all the gray and fat pigeons of the city, my white dove. I anxiously waited for its ray of light: it was to have come down from the sky and illuminate my bewildered and frightened life, transforming it in a strong and courageous one, like a «soldier of Christ», as they used to say at the time in catechism. With Her, thanks to Her and for Her, I would have been able to confront any vicissitude without stopping and without being confused."

Antiveduto Grammatica was a proto-Baroque Italian painter, active near Rome.

He began his association with the Accademia di San Luca in 1593.

Caravaggio worked for him for a month in 1594

He worked for Ferdinando Gonzaga from 1610 to 1619.

He gained great familiarity with the two protectors of the Academy, Cardinals Federico Borromeo and Francesco Maria Del Monte (the patron of Caravaggio), and was closely attached to the latter.

His son, Imperiale Gramatica (1600 ca. - 1636 ca) was also an artist and collabortor of his father..

He was elected to the highest office of the association as "principe" in 1624.