Tuesday, July 26, 2016

2016 -- Saint Anne Update

Bernardino Luini, Saint 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 Saint Anne
French, c.1500
Douai, Musée 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 M 452, fol. 140r

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

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

Defendente Ferrari, Madonna and Child with Saint Anne
Italian, 1528
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Dirk van Hoogstraten, Virgin and Child with Saint 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 Saint Anne, Holy Kindred
Netherlandish, 1475
Philadelphia, Museum of Art

Master of the Legend of Saint 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, Musée du Louvre

Saint 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.

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

St. Anne, Patron and Intercessor

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

 Prayer to Saint Anne
"O glorious Saint 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."

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Saint Margaret of Antioch – Dragon Slayer

Charles Alphonse Dufresnoy, St. Margaret of Antioch
French, 1656
Evreux, Musée d'Art Histoire et Archéologie
There are several women honored as saints or blesseds by the Catholic Church who are named Margaret.  For example, there are St. Margaret of Scotland, St. Margaret of Cortona, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Blessed Margaret Pole and St. Margaret Clitherow.   But all of them (and I myself) draw their names from a woman who may or may not have lived.  This is St. Margaret of Antioch,  who is remembered by the Church on July 20.  She is little remembered today, but was a major saint in the Middle Ages through the Baroque.
This first St. Margaret was reputedly born in Syria, in the area around Antioch.  Antioch is a city with a long, long Christian tradition.  Indeed, it is in Antioch that the followers of the new way in Judaism were first called “Christians”.  It is the city that saw saints Peter and Paul preach and is the city of one of the best known of the very early Christian martyrs, St. Ignatius of Antioch.   Ignatius was bishop of Antioch (the third ever, the first being St. Peter) in the latter decades of the first century and his letters tell us much about the beliefs and disciplines of the early Church.   The letters we have were written while he was in transit, under guard, from Antioch to Rome, where he died, as he had expressly hoped, torn to pieces by the big cats of the new Flavian Amphitheatre (which we know as the Colosseum).1  With this background, it is not surprising that a young woman named Margaret, who was a Christian, may have been born near the city, 

Guercino, St. Margaret of Antioch
Italian, c. 1630
Rome, S. Pietro in Vincoli

Margaret is, in fact, a name with deep roots in the Middle East, for it is derived from the Persian word for “pearl”.  In many languages there is a close association between the words for pearl and daisy.2  In French, for example, daisies are known as “marguerites”.  And women with the name Margaret have sometimes been gifted with the nickname “Daisy” in addition to the more common Margie, Maggie and Meg.  So, Margaret, probably in the sense of pearl, would not be an unusual name to find in a Syrian woman.

Chances are that there may have been an early Christian woman martyr in Syria or southern Anatolia named Margaret during one of the persecutions that beset the Church in the Roman Empire.  However, as with many of the early saints her story became embellished over time with stories of horrendous cruelties and fairytale elements.  In Margaret’s case these elements came to completely overshadow her human story.
According to the legend, Margaret was born on Antioch near the end of the third century, the daughter of a priest of one of the pagan cults, presumably for one of the gods or goddesses of the Roman pantheon.  Since her mother died when she was a baby, she was given to a wet nurse to raise.  The woman happened to be both a wool worker and a Christian and introduced Margaret to both.

On her coming of age, she was requested in marriage by a high ranking Roman official.  She refused him and refused to renounce her faith as well.  For this she was tortured (in some pretty horrific ways) and thrown into prison.  In prison she was attacked by Satan in two forms.  First, as a handsome young man who attempted to persuade her to surrender to the pleasures of the flesh.  Having failed at that, he decided to try terror, assumed the form of a dragon and swallowed her whole.  

Nothing daunted, Margaret either cut her way out of the dragon with a cross she had been holding when swallowed, or was miraculously released by the spontaneous explosion of the dragon when she made the sign of the cross from within his stomach.  For this reason, she is most frequently shown holding a cross and with a dead or dying dragon at her feet.

However, this reprieve was only temporary.  She was eventually beheaded during the persecution of Diocletian (303-305).4

Richard de Montbaston, Martyrdom of Margaret of Antioch
from Golden Legend by Jacobus de Voragine
French (Paris), 1348
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Français 241, fol.159v

Margaret was an extremely popular saint during the medieval period and remained so into the Renaissance and Baroque periods.  She is the patron saint of a number of things and events, including pregnant women and childbirth.

In art we see different aspects of her life.  Sometimes she is shown as a shepherdess or wool worker, a reference to the supposed occupation of her foster mother.

Jean Fouquet, St. Margaret of Antioch Spinning Wool
from Hours of Etienne Chevalier
French (Tours), ca. 1450-1460
Paris, Musée du Louvre
MS MI 1093

Mahiet and Collaborators, St. Margaret of Antioch as a Shepherdess
from Speculum historiale by Vincentius Bellovacensis
French (Paris), c.1335_
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Arsenal 5080, fol. 288

Francisco de Zurbaran, St. Margaret of Antioch
as a Shepherdess
Spanish, 1630-1634
London, National Gallery

At other times it is the scene of her eventual martyrdom that we are shown.

Master of the Roman de Fauvel, Martyrdom of St. Margaret
from Vies de Saints
French (Paris), 1300-1325
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Français 183, fol. 86v
This miniature shows both her escape from the dragon and her martyrdom.

Lodovico Carracci, Martyrdom of St. Margaret
Italian, 1616
Mantua, San Maurizio, Cappella di Santa Margherita

At times she is seen in her place in heaven as a martyr saint.  Here the dragon may appear as one of her attributes but always as a subdued, barely hinted at presence.    What is more important is the cross or martyr's palm that she holds.  She also is frequently shown holding a book.

St. Margaret of Antioch
Spanish (Burgos), c.1275-1325
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art

St. Margaret of Antioch
Catalan (Lleida), 1330-1340
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters Collection

St. Margaret of Antioch
from Cologne Missal
German (Cologne), 1150
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
 MS Latin 12055, fol. 164v

Rogier van der Weyden, Saints Margaret and Apollonia
Flemish, 1445-1450
Berlin, Gemäldegalerie der Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Jacques de Besançon, The Court of Heaven
from Golden Legend by Jacobus de Voragine
French (Paris), 1480-1490
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Français 244, fol.156
In this image Margaret takes her place among the front ranks of the female martyrs.  She stands in the first row, wearing a dark blue dress and brownish cloak and carrying a cross over her right shoulder.

Annibale Carracci, St. Margaret of Antioch
Italian, 1597-1599
Rome, S. Caterina della Rosa

Peter Candid, St. Margaret of Antioch
Flemish, ca. 1600
Private Colletion

Jan Brueghel I, St. Margaret of Antioch
Flemish, 1600-1625
Private Collection

Ernest Hebert, St. Margaret of Antioch
French, c. 1877
Paris, Musée national Ernest Hebert

But, primarily she is seen in relation to her victory over the devil/dragon.  These images come from all the time periods.  Sometimes the dragon is a truly fierce monster, but quite frequently he is seen almost as a pet. Sometimes, Margaret is seen to be popping out of the dragon.  At other times she has already been completely liberated.  At still others she is standing victoriously atop the beast.

St. Margaret Emerging from the dragon
from Livre d'images de Madame Marie
Belgian (Hainaut), 1285-1290
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Nouvelle acquisition française 16251, fol. 100
St. Margaret Emerging from the dragon
from Sermons of Maurice de Sully
Italian (Milan or Genoa), 1320-1330
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Français 187, fol. 41

Workshop of Agnolo Gaddi, St. Margaret of Antioch
Italian, c.1390
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art
In this image Margaret is being ejected by the dragon by mouth rather than bursting through his belly.

Master of Marguerite d'Orléans, St. Margaret of Antioch
from Heures de Marguerite d'Orléans
French (Rennes), c. 1430
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 1156 B, fol. 176
I suggest that you click on this image to enlarge it so you won't miss the detail of Margaret as a shepherdess in the right side of the margin and the two rather charming little dragons in the bottom margin who are looking up approvingly at the devil's discomfiture.
St. Margaret of Antioch
French (Toulouse), c. 1475
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Jean Bourdichon, St. Margaret of Antioch
from Grandes heures d'Anne de Bretagne
French (Tours), 1503-1508
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 9474, 205v

The dragons in these two images above seem almost domesticated, almost pet-like.  Obviously, this was one little bit of fantasy that painters and sculptors (and even potters) could relate to, a kind of comic relief in their usual work of preparing images of the martyr saints that were often far from comic.

Workshop of Maestro Giorgio Andreoli, St. Margaret of Antioch
Majolica dish
Italian, 1527
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lehman Collection

However, Raphael (known through several copies by his students, such as Giulio Romano) and Titian suggest that there may have been a struggle to escape from the dragon.

Giulio Romano (after Raphael), St. Margaret of Antioch
Italian, c. 1518
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Titian, St. Margaret of Antioch
Italian, 1565
Madrid, Museo del Prado

At the end of the seventeenth century, an artist working in the circle of Giacomo Ceruti imagined the vanquished demon as partially returned to human form, a much more unsettling image for we see Satan resuming his appearance as a fallen angel.

Studio of Giacomo Ceruti, St. Margaret of Antioch
Itaian, c. 1601-1623
Private Collection
Even given the comic relief aspect, there is a deeper reference here, one with a Biblical foundation. For, it refers to what had been foretold in the book of Genesis, when God rebuked the "snake" who tempted Eve to sin "Then the LORD God said to the snake:  Because you have done this, cursed are you among all the animals, tame or wild; On your belly you shall crawl, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.  I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; They will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel."  (Genesis 3:14-15)  

The dragon that devoured Margaret is the same snake that tempted Eve, both are personifications of Satan, the Devil, the Enemy who is both an enemy to God and to humanity.  Margaret is here seen as a reflection of the Virgin Mary, the quintessential "woman" of Genesis and of Revelation and the Second Eve, who, with the offspring of both her body (Jesus) and her faith (Margaret, the saints, and by extension, all Christians) will strike at his head. 5

© M. Duffy, 2016

  1.       For St. Ignatius of Antioch see http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07644a.htm, which includes links to his letters.  O'Connor, John Bonaventure. "St. Ignatius of Antioch." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 20 Jul. 2016
  2.         https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret
  3.           The story of the dragon was too much of a strain on the credulity of Jacobus de Voragine, who was quite happy with a great many other fantastic stories.  In his The Golden Legend, written in  he says “This swallowing and breaking of the belly of the dragon is said that it is apocryphal.” From The GOLDEN LEGEND or LIVES of the SAINTS, Compiled by Jacobus de Voragine, Archbishop of Genoa, 1275 First Edition Published 1470, ENGLISHED by WILLIAM CAXTON, First Edition 1483, VOLUME FOUR.  From the Temple Classics Edited by F.S. ELLIS First issue of this Edition, 1900 Reprinted 1922, 1931< http://legacy.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/goldenlegend/GoldenLegend-Volume4.asp&gt
  4.        MacRory, Joseph. "St. Margaret." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 20 Jul. 2016 .
  5. For more on the connections between the snake, the Virgin Mary and both Genesis and Revelations, see the articles "Annunciation – The World Created Anew" and "The Immaculate Conception"