Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Man of Sorrows with Instruments of the Passion

Fra Angelico and assistants, Meditation on the Passion, The Man of Sorrows with
Instruments of the Passion with the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Thomas Aquinas
Italian,  c.1441-1442
Florence, Convent of San Marco
In the same manner in which Fra Angelico showed Mary and St. Dominic meditating on
the Mocking of Jesus this picture (worked on mostly by assistants) shows Mary and 
Saint Thomas Aquinas.  Thomas appears to be in the act of preparing to write down his 
thoughts.  The figure of Jesus is surrounded by (from left to right) the sponge on the reed,
the lance, slapping right hand, Judas in the act of betrayal, Peter being challenged by 
the serving maid, the Cross and inscription, the attack on His blindfolded head, 
truncheon, a spitting head and the 30 pieces of silver changing hands.  



 “The Lord GOD has given me
a well-trained tongue,
that I might know how to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse them.
Morning after morning
he opens my ear that I may hear;
and I have not rebelled,
have not turned back.
I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
my face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting.

The Lord GOD is my help,
therefore, I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.”
Isaiah 50:4-7 (First Reading of the Mass for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion)





In 2012 I first presented an essay on the image of the Man of Sorrows (view here), that is (originally) on the image of Jesus Post-Crucifixion, with the imprint of the nails and the lance, wearing the Crown of Thorns, positioned at the center of the image, no longer alive but not part of a Pietà image nor an Entombment image.  Such pictures are devotional images, introduced into western Europe from the Byzantine Empire during the 13th century, through Venice.  


In the Byzantine world this image remained fairly static.  However, in western Europe it took on many variations or, as I call them, “tropes”1.  Among the early tropes is the Man of Sorrows Surrounded by the Instruments of the Passion.  I have examined the idea and image of the Instruments of the Passion in a separate essay (here). 

This trope on the Man of Sorrows motif is remarkably consistent in nearly all the images of it that I have found.  In the main expression of the trope, Jesus as the Man of Sorrows is shown half-length, positioned as if emerging from the sepulcher and surrounded by the instruments of the Passion, some placed on the ground in front of the sepulcher (in the majority of cases) or draped over it and some seen as if suspended in the air around Him.  In some images Jesus may hold one or two of the items. 


Associate of the Bedford Master, Man of Sorrows
with the Instruments of the Passion
From a Book of Hours
Flemish, c. 1400-1425
London, British Library
MS Royal 2 A VIII, fol. 55v
Attributed to the Bedford Master, The Man of Sorrows
with Instruments of the Passion
From a Book containing works by Christine de Pizan
French (Paris), c. 1410-1414
London, British Library
MS Harley 4431, fol. 257





























A Master of the Gold Scrolls Group, The Man of
Sorrows with the Instruments of the Passion
From a Book of Hours
Flemish (Bruges), c. 1415-1425
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 76, fol.70v
Christ as the Man of Sorrows
Single Leaf from a Manuscript
Czech, c. 1420
Private Collection





























The Man of Sorrows as the Ecce Homo,
Holding Instruments of the Passion
From a Missal
German, c.1430-1440
London, British Library
Harley 2855, fol. 3v
Follower of Masters of the Gold Scrolls
The Man of Sorrows with the Instruments of the Passion
From a Book of Hours
Flemish, c. 1440
The Hague, Meermano Museum
MS MMW 10 F 11, fol. 65v





























The Man of Sorrows with Instruments of the Passion
From a Book of Hours
Dutch, c. 1450-1475
London, British Library
MS Harley 2966, fol. 84v
The Man of Sorrows with Instruments of the Passion
From a Book of Hours
Flemish, c. 1450-75
London, British Library
MS Harley 2985, fol. 140v





























Master of Riglos, Man of Sorrows with Instruments
of the Passion
Spanish, c. 1435-1460
Oxford, University of Oxford, Campion Hall
Willem Vrelant, Man of Sorrows with the
Instruments of the Passion
From the Arenberg Hours
Flemish (Bruges), c. 1460-1465
Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum
MS Ludwig IX 8, fol. 234





























Man of Sorrows with Instruments of the Passion
English, c. 1465-1470
Chicago, Art Institute
Man of Sorrows with Instruments of the Passion
Italian (Umbrian), c. 1476-1500
Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud



























Man of Sorrows with Instruments of the Passion
From a Book of Hours
French (Paris), c. 1490-1500
The Hague, Koninklijk Bibliotheek
MS KB 76 F 14, fol. 213v
Giovanni di Pietro, Called Lo Spagna, Man of Sorrows with Instruments of the Passion
Italian, c. 1490-1500
St. Petersburg, State Hermitage Museum

The vast majority of images present Jesus in this way, but a few show Him seated or standing outside of the sepulcher.


The Man of Sorrows with Instruments of the Passion Showing the Five Wounds
From a Cathusian Miscellany
English, c. 1425-1475
London, British Library
MS Additional 37049, fol. 23
Seated Man of Sorrows with Instruments
of the Passion
Nothern French, c. 1470
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts
Master of Edward IV, Man of Sorrows with Instruments of the Passion
From a Book of Hours
Dutch (Utrecht), c. 1495-1505
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS G 5, fol. 59v

Man of Sorrows with Instruments of the Passion
From a Book of Hours,
Flemish, c. 1500
London, British L
MS King's 9, fol. 231v
Israhel van Meckenem, Man of Sorrows with
Inatruments of the Passion
From an Album of 12 Prints
Dutch, Late 15th Century
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art
























A further group includes the images of angels, saints or donors who may mourn, or meditate, or pray or appeal directly to the viewer to participate. 

Roberto Oderisi, The Man of Sorrows with
the Virgin Mary and Saint John the Evangelist
Surrounded by the Instruments of the Passion
Italian, c. 1354
Cambridge (MA), Harvard Art Museums
Giovanni di Benedetto and Workshop, The Man of Sorrows
with the Virgin Mary and Saint John the Evangelist
Surrounded by the Instruments of the Passion
From a Missal
Italian, (Milan), c. 1385-1390
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 757, fol. 237





























Master of Saint Veronica, The Man of with the Virgin and St. Catherine
Surrounded with the Instruments of the Passion
German, c. 1400-1420
Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten
Master of the Brussels Initials and Workshop
The Man of Sorrows with the Virgin Mary and the
Instruments of the Passion
From the Hours of Charles the Noble, King of Navarre
French, c. 1405
Cleveland Museum of Art
MS 1964.40, fol. 128
Bedford Master or His Workshop, Deposition
Surrounded by Angels with the Instruments of the Passion
From the Hours of Charlotte of Savoy
French (Paris), c. 1415-1430
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 1004, fol. 63v






























Master of the Harvard Hannibal, The Man of Sorrows
with Instruments of the Passion, Supported by an
Angel and  Venerated by a Bishop
Single Leaf from a Book of Hours
French (Paris), c. 1420
Private Collection

Masters of the Gold Scrolls, The Man of Sorrows
Supported by an Angel, with Instruments of the Passion
From a Prayer Book
Flemish, c. 1450
The Hague, Koninklijk Bibliotheek
MS KB 130 E 17, fol. 31v





























Man of Sorrows with Angels and Instruments of
the Passion
German, c. 1475-1485
London, British Museum
Master of the Oberaltaicher, Man of Sorrows with
the Instruments of the Passion Adored by Donor
German, c. 1515-1520
Munich, Bayerische Staatsgemaeldesammlungen,
Alte Pinakothek




























The Altarpiece of Boulbon, The Man of Sorrows with the Instruments of the Passion as the Second Person of the Trinity
to Whom the Donor is Presented by Saint Agricola of Avignon
French, c. 1530
Paris, Musee du Louvre

In some of these images Jesus gestures toward the wound in His side, to emphasize the piercing of His heart.  This image will eventually lead to the devotion to the Sacred Heart (see here).  

Meister Francke, The Man of Sorrows Supported
by an Angel with Angels Bearing the Instruments of
the Passion
German, c. 1420
Leipzig, Museum der Bildenden Kuenste

Jean le Tavernier and Follower, The Man of Sorrows with Instruments of the Passion
From Meditation de la PassionFlemish, c. 1450-1460
The Hague, Koninklijk Bibliotheek
MS KB 76 F 2, fol. 221r
Man of Sorrows with Instruments of the Passion
Flemish, c. 1450-1500
Barnard Castle, County Durham (UK),  Bowes Museum

Master of the Dutuit Mount of Olives
The Man of Sorrows with Instruments of the Passion
German, c. 1455-1470
London, British Museum
Willem Vrelant, The Man of Sorrows with
Instruments of the Passion
From the Hours of Catherine of Aragon
Flemish, c. 1460
The Hague, Koninklijk Bibliotheek
MS KB 76 F 7, fol. 173v





























Man of Sorrows Supported by Angels and
Surrounded by Instruments of the Passion
From a Book of Hours
Flemish, c. 1465-1475
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M93, fol.136v
Man of Sorrows with Instruments of the Passion
From a Breviary
French (Toulouse), c. 1485-1495
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M463, fol.54r
This image is a little unusual because of the very prominent
position given to the dice, which are usually not so pointedly
 featured.







Goswijn van der Weyden, Triptych of Abbot Antonius Tsgooten
Flemish, 1507
Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten
Workshop of Albrecht Bouts, Man of Sorrows with Insturments of the Passion
Dutch, c. 1530
Budapest, Szepmusveszeti Muzeum
All images of the Man of Sorrows are meant to be devotional images, for the contemplation of the sacrifice of Calvary and the price of salvation.  This trope represents a further intensification of the meditation on the sacrifice of the Cross as we are reminded of the torture that occurred before the nailing to the Cross. 

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

© M. Duffy, 2018

  1. Here “trope” is used in the original sense of “a phrase or verse added as an embellishment or interpolation to the sung parts of the Mass in the Middle Ages”.  Merriam-Webster.com, Merriam-Webster, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/trope. Accessed 23 Mar. 2018.

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