Friday, July 17, 2015

St. Anne on Madison Avenue

St. Anne on Madison Avenue
View of Antiquarium, Ltd. window
Until a few days ago St. Anne was prominently featured in a shop window on Madison Avenue!  Near my apartment there is an art gallery that specializes in art and artifacts that date from the Ancient Near East through the Classical Greek and Roman periods through the Middle Ages.  They are especially noted as a source for ancient jewelry (sometimes made wearable again through discreet repairs effected by jewelers trained in ancient techniques at the Jewelry Arts Institute).

Over the last few months I have been both a bit astonished and also very pleased to see that one of their windows featured a carved stone statue of The Education of the Virgin, showing St. Anne teaching Mary to read. The gallery website informs us that the statue was made in the middle of the fifteenth century (ca. 1450) in the county of Franche-Comte in France.

Education of the Virgin
French, ca. 1450
New York, Antiquarium, Ltd.
948 Madison Avenue at 75th Street

The gallery is Antiquarium, Ltd. and is located at Madison Avenue and East 75th Street.  Starting today and a mere three blocks away the church of St. Jean Baptiste on Lexington Avenue and 76th Street will celebrate the 123rd annual Novena in Honor of St. Anne.  The novena continues until the feast of St. Anne and her husband, St. Joachim, on July 26th,

Read more about the iconography of St. Anne by using the subject guide I have provided.

© M. Duffy, 2015

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Some Sad News

Museum of Biblical Art
Yesterday I received an email from the Museum of Biblical Art.  It was sent to their mailing list and announced that at the end of the current exhibition, Sculpture in the Age of Donatello, the museum will close.  That is a very sad situation and says a lot about the current state of affairs in New York real estate and the dilemma of non-profit institutions.  The museum website has the same announcement.
The museum has been in existence for ten years.  It was founded to provide a venue for the study of what has been one of the major themes of Western art for centuries, biblical stories.  It was able to operate because it had a favorable arrangement with the American Bible Society which contributed space in its building on Broadway near Lincoln Center.  That landlord-tenant relationship proved to be a happy one.  The museum went on to host some very interesting and well-received exhibitions, some of which I have previously written about. 
Giovanni D'Ambrogio, Annunciation
Italian, late 14th Century
Florence, Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore
Now, however, the relationship that allowed the museum to thrive has turned sour.  For various reasons the American Bible Society decided last year that they would be better off selling their building and moving out of New York.  They have relocated to Philadelphia.   Apparently, plans for the move were not shared with the museum until virtually the last minute, leaving the museum administration to scramble at short notice to find a new location and the funding to support it in an overheated real estate climate that is not friendly to an underfunded non-profit institution in search of a new home.  This is a great pity. 
The museum will remain open until the end of the current exhibition on June 14.  I saw the exhibition about a month ago and was overwhelmed by what it contains, in spite of the fact that there are relatively few pieces on display.  But what pieces!  I intend to write about it, but want to make a second visit to absorb more of the details.  However, in the interim, I urge you to go and see it as soon as you can.  It is well worth a visit.  It is unfortunate that no future exhibitions will follow it.

© M. Duffy, 2015

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Empty Tomb

Veronese, Resurrection of Christ
Italian, 1570-1575
Dresden, Gemaeldegalerie
Christ is Risen! 
Alleluia! Alleluia!

I wish everyone a Blessed and Joyful Easter.

The iconography of the Resurrection is a topic that I examined extensively in 2011, so I refer you to the essays on the subject listed below.  I intend to update these articles with new materials during the Easter season, so please visit the links occasionally during this time.

The Women at the Tomb

Noli Me Tangere

The Incredulity of St. Thomas (Doubting Thomas)

Emmaus -- The Journey

Emmaus -- The Recognition

Climbing from the Tomb

Hovering over the Tomb

Bursting from the Tomb

The Lake of Galilee -- The Disciples Go Fishing

Commission to Peter -- The Good Shepherd Transfers Responsibility

The Commission to the Apostles

Christ Appears to His Mother

and also An Awkward Resurrection Image

Christ is Risen!  Alleluia, Alleluia!  Below is video of the great triple alleluia sung only at Easter Vigil.  It is followed by the reading of the Gospel from Easter Vigil (filmed at the Brompton Oratory in London, England, 2008).

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Day of Gloom and the Coming of the Light

Paolo Veronese, Dead Christ Supported By Angels
Italian, 1587-1589
Berlin, Staatliche Museen
On Holy Saturday the church is quiet, the tabernacle empty, the altar stripped.  People come for services such as Tenebrae, made up of readings, songs and symbolic acts such as the snuffing out of candles or for Confession to ask God for forgiveness.  Basically, the prevailing mood is quiet, a little gloomy even, but with a hint of excitement nonetheless.

We remember the hours between the evening of Good Friday, when the body of Jesus was laid hurriedly in the tomb with little ceremony, and the morning of Easter Sunday, when the women who were coming to complete the proper burial customs found an empty tomb.

But, underneath it all is the sense of expectation.  And, late in the afternoon, the church will close and the flowers, which have been hidden since their delivery will be brought out, the altar will be dressed and the church made ready for the amazing event recollected in the evening at the Easter Vigil.
Deacon Singing the Exultet from  an Exultet Roll
In this scene he gestures toward the Paschal Candle,
which is being incensed
Italian (Montecassino), ca. 1072

As the massive newly carved and lit Paschal Candle is carried down the aisle of the darkened church, and as people light their own small candles from its flame, we are confronted with a symbolic image that has come down to us from remote centuries, for the light represents the Risen Christ.  As each of us lights his/her smaller hand-held candle from it we begin to see ourselves and those around us as bearers of a bit of that same light.  And, when all have lit their candles the church is ablaze with candle light.  What was obscure and gloomy just moments ago is now seen clearly.  It is a magnificent symbol of the Resurrection, of the share we each have in it and of the effect that spreading that light can have on the world.

For more information on the images that relate to both the day of waiting and of the Paschal Candle, please click on the following:

The Harrowing of Hell here

The Dead Christ in the Tomb here

Easter Vigil and the Paschal Candle here

©  M. Duffy, 2015