Ambrogio Bergognone - The Agony in the Garden; National Gallery, London, England; 1501
Francis Alys - Fabiola (2008)
“The story of St. Fabiola, a 4th-century Roman aristocrat from the Fabia family who is supposed to have been an early Mother Teresa, became popular in the late 19th century, and an 1885 portrait of her by a French academician (which is now lost) has since been endlessly copied around the world.
Appearing on postcards, posters and religious trinkets, Fabiola has been a beloved subject for countless painters, most of them amateurs. The portrait’s format is almost always the same: Fabiola is seen in profile facing left, her head covered by a rich red veil.
Mr. Alys, who was born in Belgium in 1959 and moved to Mexico City in 1990, began collecting Fabiola paintings—as the genre is called—about 15 years ago, buying them at thrift shops, flea markets and antiques stores primarily in Mexico and Europe. He has previously shown his collection three times, when it was much smaller; the current presentation includes more than 300 works.”
Rose-Shaped Map of Bohemia (1677)
"A map that shows Bohemia as a stylised Hapsburg rose. The stem firmly connects the flowering Bohemian rose to the fertile soil of Vienna, the Habsburg’s political centre. The Latin text at the bottom explains:
“’There grew a graceful Rose in the Bohemian woods, and an armoured lion standing guard next to her. That Rose had grown out of the blood of Mars, not of Venus. […] Do not fear, lovely Rose! There comes the Austrian. […] The Rose of Bohemia, bloody for all the centuries, where more than 80 battles were waged. She has been now drawn in this form for the first time.’”
Mary, Jesus and Joseph (La Familia?), 17th Century, Cuzco School (based in Cusco, Peru, former capital of the Inca Empire).
The Cusqueña paintings of the period (16th-18th Centuries) were created for moral and instructional purposes in the Roman Catholic artistic tradition of the Cuzco School. Objects depicting the native flora and fauna were often incorporated in the milieu. Most of the paintings were created anonymously due to the Pre-Columbian tradition that “art” was communal, although there were a few exceptions, namely, Diego Quispe Tito and Basilio Santa Cruz Pumacallao.
A choreographed record of Moving the Vatican Obelisk, from Domenico Fontana’s manuscript Della Trasportatione dell’Obelisco Vaticano (1590), illustrated by Natale Bonifacio.
The Symbolism of Flowers
Portinari-Altar, Gesamtansicht (1476-78) painted by Hugo van der Goes on commission for Sant d’Edigio chapel in the Santa Maria Nuova Hospital, Florence, Italy.
The flowers in the vase (center front, see detail) were chosen for their symbolism: violets for humility; blue and white irises for purity and heavenliness; lilies for the symbol of Mary and her purity; columbines for the Holy Spirit; and three red carnations for love and the Trinity.
Apocalypse with Pictures, published in 1498 (Dürer), was a series of woodcuts with scenes from the Book of Revelation. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse refers to Revelation 6:1-8 (NIV)
6 I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” 2 I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.
3 When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword.
5 When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. 6 Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “Two pounds[a] of wheat for a day’s wages,[b] and six pounds[c] of barley for a day’s wages,[d] and do not damage the oil and the wine!”
7 When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.
In 1511, Dürer published a second edition of Apocalypse.
Pallas Athene, Goddess of Wisdom.
The branches of an olive tree are entwined around her head and body. The Olive Tree is a sacred symbol of peace, wisdom and triumph.
Photogravure (1915), from the painting Athene and the Centaur c. 1482, Sandro Botticelli.
Written in Latin, a French prayer book on parchment. Notice the drop-shadows behind each of the illustrations, allowing the images to float off the page….
A French book of hours (15th century) in the National library of Denmark
Pretty medieval manuscript of the day is another leaf from the Van Alphen Hours… I love it because of the peas in the border. Aren’t they great? They remind me of this manuscript we looked at earlier in the year, and this one. I love these themed borders!
The illuminated letter H includes a depiction of the Veronica veil, with its miraculous imprint of Christ’s face.
Image source: Walters Museum MS W.782. Creative Commons licensed via Flickr.
Joan de Burgunya - Virgin and Child with the Infant Saint John; Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain; c. 1515 - 1525
ca. 1700. From the collection of Manly Palmer Hall, Canadian-born author and mystic, who acquired much of his collection in the 1930’s during trips to England and France. The creator of these watercolours is unknown.
Description for the oval heart illustration: the mercury of art symbolised by a heart surrounded by the crown of thorns in the centre of a cross, because the philosopher’s stone is the physical proof of the redemption by Jesus.
ALCHEMICAL ALBUM – The Vessels of Hermes – quarto atlas containing five beautiful colour plates very artistically executed and with explanatory caption. Vol. half vellum.
Vintage postcard (above), early 1900’s, depicting the Dun Cow at Durham Cathedral in England (south of Hadrian’s Wall). The cathedral was built late in the 11th Century (1093) by William of St. Carilef, the first prince-bishop appointed by King William I (William the Conqueror).
The Legend of the Dun Cow
The Viking devastation to Northumbria’s abbey on the island of Lindisfarne was notorious: it was reported in the year 793 that monks were murdered in the abbey, thrown into the sea, or carried away as slaves along with the church’s treasures.
So in the year 995, when word reached a group of monks in the Lindisfarne community that the Vikings were on their way again, they escaped the Kingdom of Northumbria by fleeing with their treasures and relics, including the remains of their beloved Saint Cuthbert (regarded as the Patron Saint of Northern England).
According to legend, Monk Eadmer was struck with a divine vision when the cart carrying the remains of Saint Cuthbert became immovable on a hill at Warden Law. Monk Eadmer’s vision revealed that they should travel to Dunholme (now known as Durham), but the monks did not know the way to this supposed sanctuary, until they overheard a passing milkmaid inquiring about her cow that had wandered away. A local woman advised her that she had seen it walking towards Dunholme, at which point the milkmaid continued along in that direction.
The monks quickly set to work to free their cart in order to follow the milkmaid, but found that it was no longer pinned in place. Divine intervention! The monks continued to Dunholme where Saint Cuthbert was finally laid to rest in the structure they built for him, Durham Cathedral. The Legend of the Dun Cow is commemorated on an exterior wall of the cathedral.
Illustration: British Library, The New Dun Cow of Durham, Samuel Grimm.
The letter L ~ Genesis, The Wenceslas Bible (1389).
Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia (1361-1419) is known for the Wenzel Bible, an illuminated manuscript, which he drew up between 1390 and 1400.
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea. Matthew 3:1 (NIV)
Illustration: Miniature of John the Baptist, with Agnus Dei, facing the text of a prayer to St. John the Baptist. (Record for Royal 2 A XVIII, Part 1 ff. 3-24)