Saturday, August 27, 2016

Saint Monica – The Persistent Mother

Follower of Master of Guillebert de Mets
St. Augustine and St. Monica
From Book of Hours
Flemish (Tournai), 1435-1445
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M357, fol. 194r
Sometimes saints come in pairs, with one usually having an influence on the other.  They may be friends, or perhaps a mentor and mentee, or perhaps they may be family members.  Indeed, on October 18, 2015, we saw the canonization of a husband and wife, Louis and Zelie Martin, the parents of another saint, Therese of Lisieux.  In Monica’s case, she is part of a pair and her partner is her son, Saint Augustine.  And it is debatable which of them was the more influential.  For, it was Monica’s steady love, example and, above all, her prayers that helped lead Augustine toward his eventual purpose in life. 

According to Augustine, Monica died at age 56 in November 387.1 This would make the year of her birth 331, just a handful of years after the recognition of Christianity as a valid religion for member of the Roman Empire.  Constantine the Great, who had recognized Christianity, was still Emperor when she was born.  The Roman world, therefore, was still predominantly pagan.  Monica, though, seems to have been born into a Christian family, where she lived in an atmosphere of faith and attention to personal conduct.2
Antonio Vivarini, Marriage of St. Monica
Italian, 1441
Venice, Accademia

As a teenager, however, she was given in marriage to a local official, Patricius, who still worshipped the old Roman and local gods.  In spite of bearing three children it does not seem to have been a happy marriage.  Apparently Patricius was not an easy man to live with and the problem was compounded by the fact that his mother also was not an easy person.  Monica managed to survive unscathed in this uncomfortable situation through her peaceful temperament and through the practice of her.  Eventually, her persistent practice led her husband to conversion toward the end of his life.3 

She also persisted in prayers for the conversion of her children, especially for her brilliant son, Augustine.  Infant baptism was still infrequently used at this time, so Augustine had not been baptized as a child.  Her husband had opposed the suggestion as her grew older, save for one period in which he was quite ill.  But as he managed to recover before the baptism could take place, her husband renewed his opposition to it. 

Benozzo Gozzoli, St. Augustine Leaving His Mother
Italian, 1464-1465_
San Gemignano, Sant'Agostino
Apsidal chapel, Scene 3
Monica then had the sorrow of seeing Augustine adopt a dissolute lifestyle, even as he advanced more and more in his studies.  Restless and dissatisfied with the old gods, but not interested in the Christian vision of God, Augustine drifted until he became involved with the Manicheans.  This was a form of Gnosticism that was an outgrowth of Eastern, especially of Iranian, thinking.  It was very influential in the early years following the recognition of Christianity and was quite a threat to it.  For the Manicheans the cosmos is divided into two equal and warring principles:  light and dark.  The light is good and the dark is evil.  Light is identified with the spirit or the soul, while the darkness is identified with the physical or the body.  Since Christianity also uses the metaphors of light and darkness, it was sometimes not so easy to tell them apart at first.  It is only through the working out of the principles of each that the differences become apparent, for, where Christianity declares that the world of created things, including man, is good in itself and pleases God, Manicheanism declares that the world of created things, being physical, is evil.
Pietro di Giovanni d'Ambrogio, Departure of St Augustine
Italian, 1435-1440
Berlin, Staatliche Museen

Augustine remained a Manichean for a considerable time, nine to ten years.  These were the years in Augustine was climbing the ladder of success in Carthage, Rome and Milan and in which Monica never ceased praying for his conversion.  Eventually, in Milan, her prayers were answered.  Augustine had a profound conversion experience and was baptized at Easter of 387 at the age of 33.

Johann Zick, Baptism of Augustine
German, 1746
Schussenried, Premonstratensian Church of St. Magnus

Ary Scheffer. St. Augustine and St. Monica
French, 1846
Paris, Musee de la vie romantique

Following his baptism, he and Monica, his son Adeodato, and other friends resolved to leave Milan and return to North Africa.  Eventually, they arrived at Ostia, the port city for Rome.  While they were staying there, waiting for a ship, Augustus relates a visionary experience that mother and son shared while sitting together at an open window.4  

Benozzo Gozzoli, Death of St. Monica
Italian, 1464-1465
San Gimignano, Sant'Agostino, Apsidal chapel

A few days later, Monica came down with a fever, probably the malaria for which the area was once infamous.  After a week of suffering she died on November 13, 387.  Before she died she charged Augustine and his friends not to incur the effort of bringing her body back to Africa, but to bury her where she died.  Consequently, she was buried in Ostia.  Later on her body was moved to the church of St. Agostino in Rome in 1430, where it remains.5

Piero della Francesca, St. Monica
Italian, ca. 1460
New York, Frick Collection

Unlike the iconography of St. Augustine, the iconography of St. Monica is not large.  She figures prominently in some of the Augustinian iconography, which is not surprising.  And there is a tradition of paintings in which she stands alone, in her own right.  She is most usually shown wearing the clothing of a widow, often in prayer. 

Francesco Botticini, St. Monica
Italian, late 1480s
Florence, Accademia

Pietro_Maggi, Apparition of the Angel to St.Monica
Italian, 1714
Milan, San Marco

Sometime she is shown holding a black leather belt, which is sometimes straight and sometimes in a bow.  This represents a legend attached to her name.  
Anonymous, St. Monica
Ceramic panel-tiles
Spanish, 17th century
Seville, Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla

She is reported to have had a vision in which the Blessed Virgin appeared to her and gave her a black leather belt, with the promise to give special protection to anyone who would wear it. She is supposed to have passed the belt on to Augustine and others.
Simon Benedikt Faistenberger.
Madonna and Child with Saints Augustine and Monica
Austrian, 1749
_St.Ulrich_am_Pillersee, Parish Church

The black leather belt became part of the habit (clothing) of members of the order of Augustinian Hermits, which grew out of the rule which Augustine wrote for the monks and nuns of his diocese.6  

In addition, she is sometimes shown as patron saint of women who belonged to a third order associated with the Augustinian Hermits. 
Francesco Botticini, St. Monica Altarpiece
Italian, late 1480s
Florence, Church of Santo Spirito

Sebastiano Conca, Madonna and Child with Saints Augustine and Monica
Italian, c. 1750
Gaeta, Museo Diocesano

Most frequently of all, however, Monica is shown in relation to her son.  No doubt this is the imagery that would be most pleasing to both of them.  Her feast day is not celebrated on the day of her death, as is usual, but on August 27th, the day before the feast day of Augustine.

© M. Duffy, 2016
  1.  Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, Book 9. Translated by Marcus Dods. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 2. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1887.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <>.
  2.  Pope, Hugh, "St. Monica." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 10. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 27 Aug. 2016 <>.
  3.  Ibid.
  4.  Augustine of Hippo, Ibid.
  5.  Pope, Hugh, Ibid.
  6.  Holgate, Ian, “The Cult of Saint Monica in Quattrocento Italy: Her Place in Augustinian Iconography, Devotion and Legend”, Papers of the British School at Rome, Vol. 71 (2003), pp. 181-206.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Go See "Unfinished" Before It Finishes!

Titian, The Flaying of Marsyas
Italian, 1570s
Kromeriz Castle (Czech Republic)
Archepiscopal Palace Picture Gallery
All summer I have been planning to say something about the inaugural exhibition at the Met Breuer, the Marcel Breuer building on Madison Avenue that was formerly the home of the Whitney Museum.  However, I have had difficulty organizing my thoughts about it, so I've been putting it off.  Now, with just two weeks remaining to the show, I feel I must say something or "forever hold my peace".  And what I have to say is this "GO SEE IT!"  The exhibition closes on Sunday, September 4.

One reason why I have had such difficulty in setting down my thoughts on the show is that it is, in a certain way, completely overwhelming.  First of all, stepping off the elevator on the third floor, at the beginning of the exhibition, one is immediately confronted with Titian's huge late work, The Flaying of Marsyas (the half man/half goat satyr who lost his foolish challenge to Apollo, who is shown fiddling on the left side of the picture), on loan from the Czech castle of Kromeriz.  That alone announces the quality of the exhibition.  The Met has contrived to blend works from its own enormous collection with major works from other museums and galleries around the world and has even succeeded in persuading numerous families and private collectors to share their riches.  The results are stunning.

Jan van Eyck, St. Barbara
Flemish, 1437
Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten

The premise of the exhibition is a meditation on the meaning of an unfinished work of art and how this meaning has changed over time.  The exhibition begins with works of the Renaissance period and ends with very contemporary works.  Some works were left incomplete because of circumstances:  the patron objected, the artist became ill, the subject refused to sit, the artist died.  Other works are records of the process by which an artist arrived at the final form for his or her thought, leaving unfinished sketches and drawings as his or her thoughts evolved.  Still others were left partially incomplete by artists who wanted to create texture in their works, especially important in an era that expected a high degree of finish for any painting.  This latter reason seems to be the reason for the inclusion of Titian’s Flaying of Marsyas, which includes areas of high finish and areas of broad visible brushwork.

I think the exhibition’s greatest strength lies in the earlier works, which are on display on the third floor of the Breuer building.  Indeed, it is the works done before the middle of the nineteenth century that are the most interesting.  With the advent of Impressionism and the movements that came after it, the focus of the artist changed from the creation of a somewhat objective view of reality to one dominated by the subjective attitude of the artist, with the Impressionist artists in the position of having one foot in both camps.  Their works are, therefore, the dividing line between the two approaches to the question of when a work of art is "finished".

Albrecht Durer, Salvator Mundi
German, c.1505
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art
That said, it was a revelation to discover that, even in periods when a high state of finish was common and expected, there was a range of options for when a work could be considered "finished".  The exhibition includes all of these, including a variety in which some areas of a work, be it painting or sculpture, could be left in an unfinished state deliberately, a condition called "non finito". 

The first and most obvious meaning to the term "unfinished" are those works that were abandoned, for whatever reason, by the artist before completion.  For example, in the second room of the exhibition, a painting of Saint Barbara, which is the oldest object in the exhibition, shows the incredibly detailed underdrawing that van Eyck used to achieve the enchanting reality of his paintings.   Other, later works similarly showing the abandonment of a work before completion are works by Albrecht Dürer, Perino del Vaga, Federico Barocci, El Greco, Gonzales Coques, Joshua Reynolds, Anton Raphael Mengs, Thomas Lawrence, Jean-Louis-Andre-Theodore Gericault and James Drummond.   Very often these works were prized and even collected because of the respect felt for the artists who made them. 
Perino del Vaga, Holy Family with St. John the Baptist
Italian, 1528-1530
London, Courtauld Gallery

Federico Barocci, Assumption of the Virgin
Italian, 1604-1605
Urbino, Galleria Nazionale delle Marche

El Greco, Vision of St. John
Greco-Spanish, c.1609-1614
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Sir Joshua Reynolds, Portrait of a Young Man
English, ca. 1770
Houston, The Menil collection

Sir Thomas Lawrence, Emilia, Lady Cahir,
Later Countess of Glegall
English, c.1803-1805
Private Collection

Jean-Louis-Andre-Theodore Gericault, Horace Vernet
French, 1822-1823
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art

The works by Mengs and Drummond are rather eerie because they present highly polished representations of the clothing and surroundings of the figures, but these figures lack faces. Furthermore, the Mengs portrait also leaves an unpainted lapdog-shaped space, presumably for the lady's favorite pooch.
Anton Raphael Mengs, Portrait of Mariana de Silva y Sarmiento,
Duquesa de Huescar
German, 1775
New York, Private Collection
James Drummond, The Return of Mary Queen of Scots to Edinburgh
Scottish, c.1870
New York, Private Collection

No doubt this is a reflection of the practice of the artist, to paint the figures first and then the faces.  On the other hand, the Portrait of Michelangelo by Daniele da Volterra shows the opposite side of the coin.  The face and hands are highly detailed, while the clothing and setting are unfinished.   

Danele da Volterra, Michelangelo Buonarroti
Italian, c.1544
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Perhaps the most interesting example of finished/unfinished in portraiture is the picture of a man and boy attributed to Gonzales Coques, in which faces and surroundings are highly finished, but the bodies are merely indicated, presumably to be completed at a later date, which never came.
Attributed to Gonzales Coques
Portrait of a man, full-length, handing a letter to a boy,
in an interior (The Young Messenger)
Belgian, c. 1640s
Private Collection

But, what happens if the figural subject refuses to sit for the artist? The exhibition includes an example that has a definite historical interest for Americans.  This is the unfinished group portrait of the American representatives to the Paris peace talks that ended the American Revolution.  Apparently, the American envoys all showed up for their portrait sittings, but the British representatives failed to come. Presumably this was by way of being a snub to the Americans and to West, the transplanted American painter.  Whatever the reason, West was never able to complete the picture.
Benjamin West, The American Commissioners of the Prelimnary Peace Negotiations with Great Britain
American, 1783 (begun)
Winterthur,DE, Winterthur Museum

Other objects in the exhibition represent the stages by which an artist plans for the finished work.  There are, therefore, drawings by both Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, as well as sketches by Tintoretto and David. 
Leonardo da Vinci, Head of a Woman (La Scapigliata)
Italian, 1500-1505
Parma. Galleria Nazionale di Parma

Michelangelo. Studies for the Libyan Sibyl
Italian, c.1510-1511
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Tintoretto, Doge Alvise Mocenigo Presented to the Redeemer
Italian, 1577
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Jacques-Louis David, Death of Barat
French, 1794
Avignon, Musee Calvet

There are also roughly finished works, showing a loose handling of paint, part sketch, part finished work.  These are represented by works of Frans Hals, Nicolas Poussin, Rembrandt, Velazquez and Jacques-Louis David.  Similar effects in sculpture can be seen in the work of Auguste Rodin. 
Frans Hals, The Smoker
Dutch, c.1623-1625
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Rembrandt, Hendrickje Stoffels
Dutch, mid-1650s
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Nicolas Poussin, Midas Washing at the Source of the Pactolus
French, c.1627
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Diego Velazquez. Peasant Girl
Spanish, c.1649-1650
Private Collection

Jacques-Louis David, Mme de Pastoret and Her Son
French, 1791-1792
Chicago, Art Institute
Auguste Rodin, Madame X (Countess Anna-Elizabeth de Noailles)
French, c.1907
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art

The exhibition also includes a painting that has a fascinating history, which shows what could have happened to many of the unfinished paintings of the Old Masters.  It is a portrait of a woman and her daughter by Titian.  It is thought that the figures may be members of Titian's own family.
Titian, Portrait of a Lady and Her Daughter
Italian, c.1550
Private Collection
Overpaint of Titian painting
Tobias and the Archangel Raphael
Removed during restoration.

 Left unfinished at Titian’s death, the almost finished painting was overpainted by someone else and became a painting of Tobias and the Archangel Raphael, presumably so that it would be easier to sell.  The painting led a peripatetic life, ending up in a bombed out garage in the Bayswater section of London at the end of the Second World War.  It was x-rayed in 1948, which uncovered the original painting underneath.  Restoration to remove the overpainting took over 20 years.1    

J.M.W. Turner, Sunset from the Top of the Rigi
English, c.1844
c 2016 Tate, London
The exhibition also includes a room filled with prints, demonstrating the process of printmaking and the various levels of “finish” that can be produced by artists working in print media.  And there is a room filled with partially finished works of Joseph Mallard William Turner, on which I have commented previously.2 These paintings represent an early stage in Turner’s creation of the final work, which only ended at “varnishing day” at the Royal Academy gallery, when he would put his final touches on his work.  These are the atmospheric backgrounds, all fog and color, which were later transformed by the addition of shapes representing the narrative he had in mind.  Hence, they were for him part of the process, while for us they can stand alone as works of great beauty.

Gustav Klimt. Posthumous Portrait of Ria Munk #3
Austrian, 1917-1918
Private Collection

As artists adopted the aims and techniques of Impressionism and later of Abstraction in its many forms the idea of the “finished” work of art as the goal of the artist became less and less accurate.  The process became more important than the final product and a work was to be considered finished when the artist said it was finished or ready for presentation.  Still, even in this later world, some works can still be defined as “unfinished”.

One such is the Posthumous Portrait of Maria Munk III by Gustav Klimt.  This was the third posthumous portrait of the young woman that Klimt did.  The first two had been rejected by her family, who had commissioned the portrait after her suicide.  Alas, this third portrait was never completed either, since Klimt died while still working on it.  However, it does reveal the way in which he went about planning some of his best known works, such as the famous Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (The Woman in Gold) of 1907.
Gustav Klimt, Adele Bloch-Bauer I
Austrian, 1907
New York, Neue Galerie

The later portions of the exhibition, from the Impressionists (on the third floor) to the most contemporary works on the fourth floor held less interest, I thought.  Once the principal of process over product, with completion at the caprice of the artist and lacking an objective definition of what is “finished” the work can be anything from a few lines on paper to a massive installation.  Such works are well represented, as are several that play with the concept of finishing itself.  One such is a pile of wrapped hard candies, which passersby are invited to dip into, thus changing the work of art endlessly as the candies are removed and replenished (Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.) by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, 1991).  For this reason, this work can (theoretically at least) never be "finished".
Janine Antoni, Lick and Lather
American, 1993-1994
Private Collection

 Another example is composed of two self-portrait busts by the artist Janine Antoni, called Lick and Lather (1993-1994).  One bust is made of chocolate, the other of soap.  After completing them, Ms. Antoni licked the chocolate one and bathed using the soap one, thus eroding their “finish”.  Also, due to their organic nature both will continue to decay, even without licking or lathering, as opposed to being “finished” and “set in stone” like the traditional marble or bronze bust.

All in all, the “Unfinished” exhibition is at once spectacular, interesting and thought provoking.  It is definitely worth the trip to 75th Street and Madison Avenue.  So, GO!

© M. Duffy, 2016

1. More information can be found at the following links:
2. “A Summer of Turner in New York” at

Monday, August 15, 2016

Saint Tarsicius – Guardian of the Eucharist

Alexandre Falguiere, St. Tarsicius
French, 1868
Paris, Musee d'Orsay
(Another version of the same statue is in the collection of the
Metropolitan Museum.  See below.)
On August 15th the universal Church celebrates the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  However, there is another feast on that same day that is little known.  It is the feast day of St. Tarsicius, one of the Roman martyrs from the third or early fourth century.   We know of him from two sources, his tomb in the Catacomb of St. Callixtus and a short epigram written by Pope St. Damasus I (born ca. 304, died 384).1  In his epigram Pope Damasus compared the martyrdoms of St. Stephen, the first martyr, and Tarsicius, both murdered by hostile crowds, using stones and clubs.2  For this reason, it is believed that Tarsicius was a deacon, a helper to the clergy, as Stephen had been a helper to the Apostles (Acts, Chapters 6 and 7). 

It is believed that Tarsicius was a young man, perhaps as young as 12, who was charged with bringing the Eucharist to Christians unable to attend the liturgy (Mass).  As he was carrying the Eucharist through the streets of Rome he was spotted by a crowd who stopped him and demanded that he surrender what he was carrying.  Tarsicius refused and was accosted.  In spite of the brutal beating he received he refused to give up what he was carrying and was beaten until he died.  His body was placed in the catacomb and his story was remembered by the community.  Repeated by Pope Damasus and compared with St. Stephen, there is no doubt that the Christian community numbered him among the martyr saints.  That he is an early saint there is no doubt because of the dating of his feast day, August 15th.  This date did not become the fixed date of the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary until about 500.3   That Tarsicius’ feast day is set on the same date is a strong argument for its existence in the Roman calendar before 500.

Martyrdom of St. Tarsicius
from Legendier
French, ca. 1250
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Nouvelle acquisition française 23686,
fol.107v (detail)
Tarsicius is the patron saint of altar servers (based on a later interpretation of his office as that of an acolyte, instead of a deacon), first communicants and of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.   He is a reminder that those who accept the role of assisting at Mass, and of bringing the Eucharist to those unable to attend in person, have a responsibility to protect and defend that Eucharist with their lives if the need arises. 

Visually, the overshadowing of his feast by the feast of the Assumption has resulted in a scarcity of pictorial representations of Tarsicius.   Diligent searching of numerous internet art collections brought only a few examples, and only one from the middle ages.  The medieval image I found shows the saint, dressed as an altar server, but full grown, carrying a veiled ciborium (vessel in which consecrated Hosts are stored) and being set upon by a group of men.  Other examples may exist, but may be misclassified, making them hard to find.  Tarsicius does not seem to have been a well-known saint in the middle ages, as is shown by his absence from Jacobus de Voragine’s Golden Legend, the popular medieval collection of lives of the saints.

However, interest in Tarsicius seems to have grown considerably during the nineteenth century.  Reasons for this may be two-fold.  The first is that a period that had witnessed a revival of Catholicism after the experience of seeing it driven underground in England and Ireland under the Penal Laws or in parts of France during the Terror was more likely to appreciate the sacrifice of Tarsicius.  Further, archeological investigations into the catacombs by pioneer archeologists, such as Giovanni Battista de Rossi (1822-1894), had begun to uncover the story of the early days of Roman Christianity, including discovering the ancient catacombs, after their long burial in the ruins of ancient Rome. 4

In the English speaking world some of Saint Tarsicius’ increase in recognition during the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century may have been due to the publication in 1854 of a novel by Nicholas Cardinal Wiseman of Westminster called Fabiola, Or the Church of the Catacombs.  Written to encourage the Catholics of England who were just coming out of the period of outright and semi-persecution that had lasted since the time of Queen Elizabeth I, by telling of early Christian bravery, it popularized for English speakers many of the early Roman martyrs, previously little known outside of Italy. 

Alexandre Falguiere, St. Tarsicius
French, ca. 1868
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art
One interesting example of nineteenth-century images of St. Tarsicius is on display at the Metropolitan Museum as part of the permanent collection.  This is an 1868 statue by Alexandre Falguiere.  It shows the young Tarsicius, prayerfully clutching a large Host to his chest as he is about to expire.5  

Jacques-Louis David, Death of Barat
French, 1794
Avignon, Musee Calvet
It is obviously derived from a famous work by Jacques-Louis David, “The Death of Barat”.  David’s painting was something of a sensation in its time.  Currently on loan to the Metropolitan Museum for the great exhibition, Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible, which inaugurates the new Met Breuer building, David’s painting records the death of a young Republican drummer boy, shot down by Royalist forces for having responded “Long Live the Republic” to their shout of “Long Live the King”.  Barat was seen by revolutionaries such as David as a secular martyr for the cause of the French Republic.  In his painting, David has stripped the body of the boy in reference to classical antiquity (one of the artistic themes of the French Revolution) and has shown him clasping his hands as he dies.  Falguiere has made conscious reference to this pose in presenting Tarsicius, although his boy is modestly clothed and more actively shown in prayer.  He has, therefore, turned the pose of David’s revolutionary, secular martyr, back toward the Christian roots of the concept of martyrdom, willingly giving your life for the sake of the faith. 

Another, early twentieth-century, image of the saint is found in one of the stained glass windows of the church of St. Jean Baptiste in New York by the Charles Lorin Studio of Chartres, France. The window fills a lunette window over the doors of one of the shallow transepts of the church.  It shows Tarsicius as a young man, kneeling at the door of a building that seems to be set into the earth, probably implying a catacomb.  He is holding a vessel to receive the Host which the priest is shown holding in front of him. 

Unfortunately, after about the time in which the Lorin window was installed in the church (1920) images of Tarsicius of good quality seem to have ceased altogether, being replaced by sentimental “holy card” images.
 © M. Duffy, 2016
  1.  Kirsch, Johann Peter. "St. Tarsicius." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 14 Aug. 2016 <>.
  2.  Shahan, Thomas. "Pope St. Damasus I." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 14 Aug. 2016 <>.  See also Damasus I, Pope. Ed. Maximilian Ihm, Damasi epigrammata; accedunt Pseudodamasiana aliaque ad Damasiana inlustranda idonea. Recensuit et adnotauit Macimilianus Ihm. Adjecta tabula, Leipzig, B.G. Teubner, 1895, p. 21 (notes and comments 21-24).  Retrieved:  Accessed 8/14/2016 
  3. Holweck, Frederick. "The Feast of the Assumption." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 14 Aug. 2016  <>.
  5. Another, slightly earlier, version of the same statue is also in the collection of the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

St. Anne Update – 2016

Bernardino Luini, St. Anne
Italian, 1523
Philadelphia, Museum of Fine Art
July 26th is the feast day of Saints Anne and Joachim, the parents of the Virgin Mary and the grandparents of Jesus.  They, especially St. Anne, have been important saints for most of the life of the Church and frequently featured in Christian art.  

Over several years I have posted various images of Saints Anne and Joachim.  The number keeps growing because, as the internet becomes a more widely available tool, the number of museums and libraries that are making their collections available online keeps growing.  Further, museums and libraries that were early participants in making collections available by releasing parts of their holdings keep adding to their online presence.  Since Anne and Joachim have been important for so long, we are still only seeing the tip of the iceberg of images that probably exist.
Each year I propose to continue to add to the collection of images available through this blog as new ones become accessible.   I will endeavor to link these images with the essays about their iconological type which I did in 2011. 

So, now I present the 2016 additions to the iconography of St. Anne.

Jean Bellegambe, Pregnant St. Anne
French, c.1500
Douai, Musee de la Chartreuse

Master of the Getty Epistles, Education of the Virgin Mary
from Book of Hours
French (Tours), 1525-1540
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M452, fol. 140r

Education of Virgin (ivory carving)
 (Chinese?), 17th century
Paris, Musee Guimet, Musee national des Arts asiatiques

Anna Selbdritt
German (Bavarian), 1472
Paris, Musee de Cluny, Musee nationale du  moyen age
Circle of Daniel Mauch, Anna Selbdritt
German, c.1500
Marseille_Musee Grobet Labadie

Defendente Ferrari, Madonna and Child with St. Anne
Italian, 1528
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Dirk van Hoogstraten, Virgin and Child with St. Anne
Dutch, 1630
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum

Jean Fouquet, Holy Kindred
from Hours of Etienne Chevalier
French (Tours), 1452-1460
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Nouvelle acquisition latine 1416

Master of the Legend of St. Anne, Holy Kindred
Netherlandish, 1475
Philadelphia, Museum of Art

Master of the Legend of St. Anne, Holy Kindred
Netherlandish, 1475
Philadelphia, Museum of Art
Attributed to  Matthaeus Gutrecht the Younger, Holy Kindred
German, c.1500-1510
Philadelphia, Museum of Art

Wood Carving, Holy Kindred
Austrian (Tyrol), c.1515-1520
London, Victoria and Albert Museum

Colin Nouailher, Holy Kindred
French, 1545
Paris, Musee du Louvre

Jan Provost, St. Emerencia, Mother of St. Anne
Flemish, c.1500
Paris, Musee du Louvre

St. Anne's mother, identified by the name of Emerencia or Emerantia, was often included in the Holy Kindred or the Anna Selbdritt images.  But, occasionally, she was accorded an image of her own.

Bartel Bruyn the Younger, Catharina von Siegen, nee Kannegiesser, with St. Anne and Virgin and Child
German, c..1565-1575
Philadelphia, Museum of Art

 Prayer to Saint Anne
"O glorious St. Ann, you are filled with compassion for those who invoke you and with love for those who suffer! Heavily burdened with the weight of my troubles, I cast myself at your feet and humbly beg of you to take the present intention which I recommend to you in your special care.

Please recommend it to your daughter, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and place it before the throne of Jesus, so that He may bring it to a happy issue. Continue to intercede for me until my request is granted. But, above all, obtain for me the grace one day to see my God face to face, and with you and Mary and all the saints to praise and bless Him for all eternity. Amen."