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
MS 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  Sorrows 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 Staatsgemäldesammlungen,
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, Musée 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 Künste

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 M 93, fol.136v
Man of Sorrows with Instruments of the Passion
From a Breviary
French (Toulouse), c. 1485-1495
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 463, 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.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Meditation on the Passion – The Instruments of the Passion


Instruments of the Passion of Christ
From a Prayer Book
French (Paris), c. 1485-1495
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS H 3, fol. 13r


In 2012 I examined the image of the Man of Sorrows, one of the greatest and most wide spread of the images related to the Passion of Jesus Christ in the medieval world.  This year I have edited that original article and added many new images of the simplest forms which this iconography took as it developed from its introduction, from the Byzantine Empire, in thirteenth-century Italy until it largely died out in the seventeenth century.  It is my plan to continue to introduce commentary on the development of this image in Western Europe, where the simple image was succeeded by a variety of what one might call visual tropes not seen in the Byzantine realm.  The first “trope”1 I will look at is that of the Man of Sorrows with Instruments of the Passion.  However, before I examine this theme I would like to make a digression of sorts and discuss the Instruments of the Passion.  This is not an idea that is very familiar in contemporary Christian spirituality and may need some explanation.






The Instruments of the Passion


The Instruments of the Passion, also known as the Arma Christi (the weapons of Christ or the arms, in the heraldic sense, of Christ), are the objects used in the torture and killing of Jesus from the time he was betrayed by Judas to His death on the Cross.  They include such objects as:  the whips, the ropes, the column against which He was scourged, the crown of thorns, the cross, the nails, the hammer, the inscription above His head, the ladder, the sponge on a reed, the lance that was used to pierce His side, the pliers used to extract the nails from His dead flesh.  Sometimes the crowing rooster, His robes, or even the dice with which the Roman soldiers cast lots for His clothing are included.  

Instruments of the Passion
From the Sacramentary of Gellone
French, c. 775-800
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 12048, fol. 76v
This is one of the earliest pictures I found which depicted instruments 
of the Passion.  Here, there is the Cross (and those of the thieves)
plus the nails.
Instruments of the Passion
From a Book of Hours (Fragment with
a Life of St. Margaret)
French (Saint-Omer), c. 1320-1330
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M754.105r

























Sometimes the basin and pitcher used by Pilate to wash his hands of Jesus’ blood are also included.  In some cases, the heads or hands of the torturers or other actors in the Passion (Pilate, Herod, the High Priest, etc.) are depicted, rather surreally floating in the air.  Occasionally, the veil of Veronica, with its infused image of Jesus’ face also appears. And, sometimes, the thirty pieces of silver given to Judas for betraying Him also figure in the list.  Even the dice used to cast lots for Jesus' clothing may be included.

Master of the Bible of Jean de Sy
Instruments of the Passion
From a Book of Hours
French (Verdun), c. 1370-1380
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 90, fol. 224v
Master of the Bible of Jean de Sy
Instruments of the Passion
From a Book of Hours
French (Verdun), c. 1370-1380
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 90, fol. 225r























Instruments of the Passion
From the Breviary of Martin of Aragon
Catalan, c. 1398-1430
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Rothschild 2529, fol. 215


Boucicaut Master, Arma Christi
From Hours of Marechal Jean de Boucicaut
French (Paris) , c. 1405-1408
Paris, Musée Jacquemart-Andre
MS 2

Instruments of the Passion
From a Book of Hours
Dutch (Utrecht), c. 1455-1460
The Hague, Koninklijk Bibliotheek
MS KB 135 E 40, fol. 111r
Arms of Christ Between the Blessed Virgin
and St. John the Evangelist
From Blason des armes de notre redemption
French, c. 1475-1500
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Francais 14357, fol. 2

Arms of Christ Between the Blessed Virgin
and St. John the Evangelist
From Blason of the Arms of Our Redemption
French, c. 1475-1500
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Francais 5939, fol. 1
















Tapestry with the Arma Christi
Flemish, c. 1475-1550
New  York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cloisters Collection

Glass Roundel with Instruments of the Passion
English, c. 1490-1510
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cloisters Collection
Workshop of Hieronymous Bosch, Instruments of the Passion
Dutch, c. 1496-1500
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts
Crucifixion with Instruments of the Passion in the Margins
From a Book of Hours
Flemish (Antwerp), c. 1500-10
Hague, Koninklijk Bibliotheek
MS KB 128 G 34, fol. 13r

Instruments of the Passion
From a Book of Hours
Flemish (Liege), c. 1500-1525
The Hague, Koninklijk Bibliotheek
MS KB 133 D 11, fol. 18r

Leonard Limosin, Crucifixion with  Scenes from the Passion
and Angels Holding Instruments of the Passion Passion
with Portraits of Francois I and Eleanor of Austria
French, 1553
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Leonard Limosin, Resurrection with the Agony in the
Garden, the Meeting with Mary Magdalene and
Angels Holding Instruments of the Passion,
with Portraits of Henri II and Catherine de Medici
French, 1553
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Instruments of the Passion in Pictographs
From the Codex Mexicanus
Mexican (Aztec), c. 1560-1600
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Mexicain 23-24, fol. 52-53
This remarkable image shows that, scarcely 50 years from the arrival of the Conquisitadores in Mexico, the traditional images of the Instruments of the Passion were current in Mexican native culture.
Jean Antoine Belleteste, Instruments of the Passion
French, 1761
Dieppe, Chateau Musée
Francesco Tanadei, Isntruments of the Passion
Italian, c. Late 18th-Early 19th Century
Private Collection

























Campbell Brick and Tile Company, Instruments of the Passion
English, c. 1875-1882
London, British Museum

Angels with the Instruments of the Passion

The “arms” are often shown held by angels.  What is probably the most famous of such depictions is the grouping of ten statues that stand on the famous Ponte Sant’Angelo2 which spans the Tiber between the Castel Sant’Angelo and the Centro Storico of Rome.  Executed between 1678 and 1682, by Bernini and his assistants, they are probably entirely puzzling to the majority of visitors.  Each of the ten holds one “instrument”.  The two statures personally carved by Bernini himself were moved indoors long ago and replaced by faithful copies.  The two originals stand today in the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte, located between the Piazza di Spagna and the Via del Tritone, and just across the street from Bernini’s final residence on Via di Capo le Case.
Gianlorenzo Bernini, Angel with the Crown of Thorns
Italian, c. 1668-1671
Rome, Church of Sant'Andrea delle Fratte
Gianlorenzo Bernini, Angel with the Superscription
Italian, c. 1668-1671
Rome, Church of Sant'Andrea delle Fratte


























Workshop of Gianlorenzo Bernini
Angel with the Column
Italian, c. 1668-1671
Rome, Ponte Sant'Angelo
Workshop of Gianlorenzo Bernini
Angel with the Column
Italian, c. 1668-1671
Rome, Ponte Sant'Angelo


























Workshop of Gianlorenzo Bernini
Angel with the Cross
Italian, c. 1668-1671
Rome, Ponte Sant'Angelo
Workshop of Gianlorenzo Bernini
Angel with the Nails
Italian, c. 1668-1671
Rome, Ponte Sant'Angelo



























Workshop of Gianlorenzo Bernini
Angel with the Robe and the Dice
Italian, c. 1668-1671
Rome, Ponte Sant'Angelo
Workshop of Gianlorenzo Bernini
Angel with the Veil of Veronica
Italian, c. 1668-1671
Rome, Ponte Sant'Angelo


























Workshop of Gianlorenzo Bernini
Angel with the Sponge
Italian, c. 1668-1671
Rome, Ponte Sant'Angelo
Workshop of Gianlorenzo Bernini
Angel with the Lance
Italian, c. 1668-1671
Rome, Ponte Sant'Angelo























The angels on Ponte Sant’ Angelo are a self-contained ensemble, chosen to remind pilgrims of the sacred nature of their visit and to advertise some of the treasures of the Vatican, for several of the objects are believed to be located in the Basilica of Saint Peter.  Among these are the lance and the veil of Veronica. 

Other images of angels with the Arma Christ also offer them to the viewer as objects for contemplation.
Master of Guillebert de Mets, Angel with the Arma Christi
From a Book of Hours
Flemish (Ghent), c. 1415-1425
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 46, fol. 103v
Two Angels 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 109r




Angels with Instruments of the Passion
Flemish, First Half 16th Century
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts
Lazzaro Bastiani, Madonna and Child with Angels Holding Instruments of the Passion
Italian, 15th-16th Century
Berlin, Gemäldegalerie der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin 
Jean Bourdichon, Angels Holding the Crown of Thorns
From Grandes heures d'Anne de Bretagne
French (Tours), c. 1503-08
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 9474, 211v
Simon Bening, Christ Child with Angels Holding
Instruments of the Passion
From the Prayer Book of Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg
Flemish,  c. 1525-1530
Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum
MS Ludwig IX 19, fol. 31v

Pietro da Cortona, Angels with Instruments of the Passion
Italian, c. 1633-1634
Rome,  Church of Santa Maria in Vallicella

The Instruments of the Passion at the Last Judgment

However, most of the time the angels with the ensemble appear in representations of the Last Judgment.  In these images the Instruments act as the record of the sufferings endured by Jesus in His Passion. They also demonstrate the validity of His judgment on humanity because, through them, He won salvation for the human race.  Those souls which rejected the salvation offered to them have refused to accept His sacrifice and have, therefore, condemned themselves. 

The Second Coming of Christ
From the Benedictional of Aethelwold
English, c. 963-984
London, British Library
MS Additional 49598, fol. 9v
The Last Judgment
From the Westminster Psalter
English (London), c. 1275-1300
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 10433, fol. 9




























Angels with Instruments of the Passion
Italian, 13th Century
Florence, Cathedral Baptistery

The Last Judgment
From Jugement et des XV signes
French (Northern), c. 1250-1300
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Arsenal 3516, fol. 154v
The Resurrection of Dead
From Livre d'images de Madame Marie
Flemish (Hainaut), c. 1285-1290
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Nouvelle acquisition francaise 16251, fol. 52




















Last Judgment
From Breviari d'Armor
Catalan, c. 1375
London, British Library
MS Yates Thompson 31, fol. 174v
Boucicaut Master, Last Judgment
From Heures de Jeanne Bessonnelle
French (Paris), c. 1400-25
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 1161, fol. 137

The Last Judgment
From De Civitate Dei by St. Augustine of Hippo
French (Paris), c. 1400-1425
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Francais 173, fol. 2
Master of the Echevinage and His Workshop, Last Judgment
From De Civitate Dei by St. Augustine of Hippo
French (Rouen), c. 1475-1500
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Francais 28,fol. 2

Michelangelo Buonarotti, Last Judgment (detail of upper portion)
Italian, c. 1537-1541
Vatican City, Sistine Chapel
Most people are likely so fixated on the central drama of Christ's appearance amid the saints and the individual dramas of salvation and damnation being worked out in the lower portion of the picture that they probably fail to notice the angels struggling with the Instruments of the Passion in the upper portion.  On the top left the angels bring the Cross and the Crown of Thorns, while at the right they struggle with an immense Column.
To the materialist mind it may seem strange to exalt and venerate such cruel objects as nails, thorns, whips and to even some Christians it may seem distasteful.  However, it is through these terrible items and through the injury and pain that they caused to one Person that Evil was overcome and a pathway opened to the Divine.  Through them mankind was saved from its own inclination to sin.  Viewed in this way one can say that they are indeed objects worthy of respect, veneration and even love.

© 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.
  2. For information on the Ponte Sant’Angelo see:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponte_Sant%27Angelo

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.