Saturday, August 25, 2018

Prefiguring Salvation -- Manna in the Desert and the Bread from Heaven, Part III


The Fall of Manna
German, c. 1470
Detroit, Institute of Arts








This is the third of a series of three articles regarding the interpretation of the miracle of the manna and its relationship to Jesus' statements about his flesh as the bread from heaven.  Please be sure to read all three.  Links are provided in the first paragraphs of text below the quotation from Saint John.











"Jesus said to the crowds:
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world."

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
"How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" 
Jesus said to them,
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you. 
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day. 
For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink. 
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him. 
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me. 
This is the bread that came down from heaven. 
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever."

John 6:51-58 (Gospel for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, August 19, 2018)

Miracle of the Manna
From the Egmont Breviary
Dutch (Utrecht), c. 1435-1445
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
 MS M87, fol. 253r


In this essay we continue to explore the ways in which artists' depiction of the miracle of the manna in the desert (Exodus 16) prefigures the self-giving sacrifice of Jesus and his gift of the Eucharist.

The lectionary for Mass is arranged so that the several portions of John 16 that describe Jesus’ response to the crowd’s request for a miracle are read as the Gospel for the four Sundays of August in Year B.1  

In Part I, we looked at the ways in which the miracle of manna was combined with other Old Testament events to throw light of the events of the New Testament.

In Part II we looked at the ways in which the miracle of the manna was combined with those New Testament events to point to a deeper reality.

Here we continue to explore the iconography of this great miracle, which sustained the Jewish people in their early wanderings and pointed the way for an even greater food that was to come for the human spirit.




Additional Images

When considering pictures that depict the scene of the manna in the desert we need to bear in mind that a particular image may be a sole image or it may be the still unidentified part of a larger whole.  
There are a large number of pictures whose original location is often obscure.  They may have a
pendant2 picture that was destroyed in one of the numerous European wars, or they may have a pendant that still exists, unrecognized as such, in a public or private collection, possibly now on another continent, or they may indeed be solitary pictures, standing without any reference to another but with no clear indication of their original location and purpose.  
Master of the Manna, The Israelites Gathering Manna
(Pendant to a panel of the Crucifixion)
Dutch, Late 15th Century
Douai, Musee de la Chartreuse

Simply Gathering

Most of them present the scene of the miraculous fall of manna in the desert as an activity for several people in a group.  Initially all the individuals shown were men, but figures of women and children were soon added.  


Miraculous Rain of Manna
German, c. 1300
Meldorf, Evangelical Church Of St. John the Baptist

Michiel van der Borch, Gathering of Manna and Quail
From Rhimebible by Jacob van Maerlant
Dutch (Utrecht), 1332
The Hague, Meermano Museum
MS RMMW 10 B 21, fol. 26r
This is perhaps the most puzzling of all the images I've seen.  I have no idea why all the figures, especially the soldiers, clad in contemporary chain mail look so very glum.  Perhaps it's the monotony of quail and manna every day.  






































Master of Death, Israelites Gathering Manna
From Histoire de la Bible et de l'Assomption de Notre-Dame
French (Paris), c. 1390-1400
New  York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 526, fol. 16



Hektor Mullich and Georg Mullich, Miracle of Manna
From a German Textual Misellany
German, c. 1450-1460
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M782, fol. 26v
Israelites Gathering Manna
Italian, 16th Century
Verona, Santa Maria in Organo
Bernardino Luini, Israelites Gathering Manna
Italian, c. 1509-1510
Milan, Pinacoteca di Brera
The Dalziel Brothers, After Arthur Boyd Houghton, Israelites Gathering Manna
English, c. 1865-1881
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art

James Tissot, Gathering of Manna
French, c. 1896-1902
New York, Jewish Museum



Scenes with Moses or Aaron

Many of the pictures show the figures of Moses, Aaron or Joshua overseeing the work and sometimes joining in themselves. 
Israelites Collecting Manna
From Histoires bibliques
French (Saint-Quentin), c. 1350
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Francais 1753, fol. 35
Israelites Gathering Manna
Woodcut from the Nuremberg Bible
German, 15th Century
Cleveland, Museum of Art
Israelites Gathering Manna
From Weltchronik by Rudolf von Ems
German (Regensburg), c. 1400-1410
Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum
MS Ms. 33, fol. 81v
Here the manna has the look of small bread rolls rather than the thin, wafer-like consistency it appears to have in some images.  
Moses and the Israelites Offering Thanks to God for the Manna
Italian, c. 1415
Riffian, Nostra Signora al Cimitero
This image is rather unusual in that it shows Moses and the people offering thanks to God for the manna.  Usually they are depicted as simply collecting it.  
Master of Catherine of Cleves, Isrealites Gathering Manna with Moses and Aaron
From Hours of Catherine of Cleves
Dutch (Utrecht), c. 1435-1445
New  York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M945, fol.137v
This is interesting in the way in which it depicts Moses and Aaron.  Moses is the figure at the extreme right, holding a rod and gesturing toward the sky.  He is identifiable by his traditional two "horns".  Aaron is the elaborately dressed figure in the center.  He is identifiable by his two peaked headdress, a sign of his priestly office.
Fall of Manna
German, 16th Century
London, Victoria and Albert Museum
Bacchiacca, Israelites Gathering Manna
Italian, c. 1540-1545
Washington, National Gallery of Art
Jan Sadeler I, After Crispijn van den Broeck, Israelites Gathering Manna
From Thesaurus sacrarum historiarum veteris testamenti
Flemish, 1585
London, British Museum
Francesco Bassano, Israelites Gathering Manna
Italian, c. 1590
Richmond-upon-Thames (UK), Ham House, National Trust
Guido Reni, Israelites Gathering Manna
Italian, c. 1614-1615
Ravenna, Cathedral


Nicolas Poussin, Israelites Collecting Manna
French, c. 1637-1649
Paris, Musee du Louvre
Jacob Willemszoon de Wet, Israelites Gathering Manna
Dutch, c. 1650
Ticknall, Derbyshire (UK), Clake Abbey, National Trust
Israelites Gathering Manna
English, c. 1685-1689
London, Victoria and Albert Museum
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Israelites Gathering Manna
Italian, c. 1750
Oxford, Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology


Unusual Uses
Images of the miraculous fall of manna also seem to have been very popular among enamel workers and potters during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (i.e., 1500-1700). 
Plate with Gathering of Manna
Italian, c. 1523-1525
London, Victoria and Albert Museum
Orazio Fontana, Wine Cooler with Israelites Gathering Manna
Italian, c. 1565
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum
Workshop of Pierre Reymond or Jean Reymond_Israelites Gathering Manna and the Destruction of Pharoah's Host
French, c. 1575-1600
New York, Frick Collection
Antoine Conrade Workshop, Dish with Gathering of Manna
French, c. 1620-1645
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Tabernacle with Gathering of Manna
Italian, Late 19th Century in the Style of the 17th Century
Philadelphia, Museum of Art

Unusual Images

Every now and then an odd image appears, as for example, the image from a German Book of Hours, dated to 1204, which shows a group of men, wearing typically “Jewish” hats, holding up cloths presumably filled with manna.  
Miracle of the Manna
From a Book of Hours
German (Bamberg),  c. 1204-1219
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M739, fol. 16r
They stand, immobilized, against a green curtain, on a red colored ground.  Above their heads is the German statement “Hie regent in das himmlische brot vom himmel” (or “The heavenly bread (from heaven) is falling here.”  They are neither gathering manna, nor expressing joy or amazement, or indeed, doing anything except standing.

Another oddity is this seventeenth-century version by Dirk Metius.  
Dirck Metius, The Gathering of Manna with a Family Portrait of Willem van Loon, Margaretha Bas and Their Children
Dutch, 1648
Amsterdam, Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen
It is a Dutch family portrait masquerading as a “history” painting.  In it, the family of Willem van Loon and his wife, Margaretha Bas, and their three boys and two girls, pose as a Hebrew family, depositing the manna they have collected in the brass vessel they have reserved for this purpose.

Links to Parts I and II:
Prefiguring Salvation – Manna in the Desert and the Bread from Heaven, Part I,
Prefiguring Salvation -- Manna in the Desert and the Bread from Heaven, Part II

__________________________________________________________
1,  These readings are: 
  • Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – John 6:24-35  
  • Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – John 6:41-51
  • Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – John 6:51-58                                                                  
  • Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time – John 6: 60-69


2.  Pendant.  In this sense and usage, means a companion piece.  Pendant paintings are usually ordered together by the patron.  The two (or more) paintings, when seen together, tell a more complete story than can either one alone, or they can illuminate a concept that could not be grasped so easily if shown in one picture.  One useful example, that can clarify what I mean by this, can be found in a recent exhibition in New York.  From February into April of this year the Frick Collection was host to an exhibition of 13 gigantic imaginary portrait paintings by the seventeenth-century Spanish painter, Francisco de Zurbaran.  The subjects were Jacob and his twelve sons.  Twelve of the paintings came from Auckland Castle in County Durham (UK).  One came from Grimsthorpe Castle, in the County of Lincolnshire (UK).  Each painting could easily stand on its own as a great work of art.  However, taken together they tell us something else.  Through the variety of costume, facial expression, gesture and stance, even through their hair styles and hats, they reveal their personalities and the ways in which they have fulfilled the prophecies made on them by their father, revealing their family dynamic and even commenting on their descendants, the twelve tribes of Israel.  So, while seeing each is an interesting aesthetic experience, seeing them together as a group, as they were intended to have been seen, adds many more layers of meaning to the experience for the viewer. 



© M. Duffy, 2018


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.

Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

No comments: