Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Mercy of David

Anonymous, David Takes the Spear and Water Jar from the Sleeping Saul and Announces the Theft
From Old Testament Miniatures
French (Paris), c. 1244 - 1254
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 638, fol. 34r

“In those days, Saul went down to the desert of Ziph
with three thousand picked men of Israel,
to search for David in the desert of Ziph.
So David and Abishai went among Saul’s soldiers by night
and found Saul lying asleep within the barricade,
with his spear thrust into the ground at his head
and Abner and his men sleeping around him.

Abishai whispered to David:
“God has delivered your enemy into your grasp this day.
Let me nail him to the ground with one thrust of the spear;
I will not need a second thrust!”
But David said to Abishai, “Do not harm him,
for who can lay hands on the LORD’s anointed and remain unpunished?”
So David took the spear and the water jug from their place at Saul’s head,
and they got away without anyone’s seeing or knowing or awakening.
All remained asleep, because the LORD had put them into a deep slumber.

Going across to an opposite slope,
David stood on a remote hilltop
at a great distance from Abner, son of Ner, and the troops.
He said: “Here is the king’s spear.
Let an attendant come over to get it.
The LORD will reward each man for his justice and faithfulness.
Today, though the LORD delivered you into my grasp,
I would not harm the LORD’s anointed.”

 1 Samuel 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23
(First Reading for the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year)
February 24, 2019

Among the heroes of the Old Testament none are greater than David, who went from shepherd boy to giant killer to king’s son-in-law to king through the favor of God.  Furthermore, for the Christian David is one of a handful of figures from the Old Testament who can be considered as forerunners of Jesus (Matthew 21:9; Mark 11:10).  And, finally, the New Testament holds David to be a blood ancestor of Christ (Matthew 1:6).  Consequently, interest in the life of David has been constant throughout the history of European Christian art. 

Master of Simon of St. Albans and Workshop, Jesse Tree
From the Capucin Bible
French (Champagne), c. 1170-1180
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 16746, fol. 7v
Here David can clearly be seen as a crowned, seated, white bearded king, just above the sleeping figure of his father, Jesse.  Above him are his son, Solomon, and above him, his remote descendents, the Virgin Mary and her Son, Jesus.  Other family members sit on side branches of the main tree stem. 

However, not all the stories that the Old Testament tells about David have been treated equally over the centuries.  By far the most popular images of David have been those which tell the story of David and Goliath.  Perhaps it is the drama of imagining a young boy, a shepherd equipped with only a stone and a slingshot, being able to bring down a hulking giant warrior that has insured the appeal.  

David and Goliath
From Bible historiale of Guiard des Moulins
French (Paris), c. 1300-1325
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Francais 160, fol. 135

This story is closely followed by others, such as David the musician, David dancing before the Ark, David lusting after Bathsheba or lamenting over the death of his rebellious son, Absalom.   
David Playing the Harp
From the Luttrell Psalter
English (Lincoln), c. 1350-1400
London, British Library
MS Additional 42130, fol. 13

Occasionally, one sees a picture of some other aspect of David’s life, under the first king of Israel, Saul.  Most often images focus on the dramatic moment when King Saul, having almost adopted David after the battle with Goliath, suddenly becomes overwhelmed by jealousy of David’s youth and multiple abilities, and tries to kill him with his spear (1 Samuel 18:10-12). 
Guercino, Saul Attacking David
Italian, 1646
Rome, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica
Only a few pictures that I have been able to find illustrate the passage used in today’s readings, where David and one of his companions, Abishai, sneak into Saul’s camp and penetrate to the king’s tent, where they find Saul and his officers sound asleep.  Instead of taking advantage of the situation to kill Saul on the spot, David restrains Abishai and, to illustrate what he could have done, removes Saul’s water jar and spear, presumably the same one which Saul had used to try to kill him. In the morning, David calls the attention of Saul’s army to his deed and to his mercy, “though the LORD delivered you into my grasp, I would not harm the LORD’s anointed”. 
Anonymous, David Takes the Spear and Water Jar from the Sleeping Saul and Announces the Theft
From Psalter-Hours of Ghuiluys de Boisleux
French (Arras), c. 1243-1260
New  York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 730, fo1. 66v
By contrast to some of the other scenes from the life of David that have entered the western tradition as paintings or as sculpture, the scenes of David’s raid on Saul’s tent and his subsequent revelation of the spear and water jar, occur primarily, if not solely, to the realm of Biblical illustration.  Initially, it appears in the form of manuscript illuminations.  

Anonymous, David Takes the Spear and Water Jar from the Sleeping Saul and Announces the Theft
From Histoires bibliques
French (Saint-Quentin), 1350
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Francais 1753, fol.  79

Anonymous, David Takes the Spear and Water Jar from the Sleeping Saul and Announces the Theft
From Toison d'or by Guillaume Fillastre
French (Paris), 15th-16th Century
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Francais 138, fol. 79v

Bible Masters of the First Generation, David Takes the Spear and Water Jar from the Sleeping Saul
From a History Bible
Dutch (Utrecht), c. 1430
The Hague, Koninklijk Bibliotheek
MS 78 D 381, fol. 174v

Jean Colombe and Workshop, David Takes the Spear and Water Jar from the Sleeping Saul
From Hours of Anne of France
French, 1473
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 677, fol. 264r

It also appeared in at least one instance of decorative wall painting, such as the cycle of scenes from the life of David in the Ricci-Sacchetti palace in Rome.

Cecchino del Salviati, Scene from the Story of David, David Takes the Spear and Water Jar from the Sleeping Saul
Italian, c. 1552-1554_
Rome, Palazzo Ricci-Sacchetti, Sala dell'Udienza Invernale

Then, as printing became the primary way in which Bibles were disseminated, it appears in prints or in preparatory drawings for prints.

After Ambrosius Francken I (Published by Gerard de Jode), David Takes the Spear and Water Jar
Flemish, c. 1579
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum

Jean Theodore de Bry, David Sparing Saul
French, c. 1600
Magny-les-Hameaux, Musée de Port-Royal des Champs

Ottavio Semino, David Taking the Spear and Water Jar from the Sleeping Saul
Italian, c. 1590-1600
Paris, Musée du Louvre

Caspar Luyken, David Takes the Spear and Water Jar from the Sleeping Saul
Dutch, 1708
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum

Only in the middle of the nineteenth century was I able to find the first independent paintings on canvas.
Leon Job, David Spares the Sleeping Saul
French, 1849
Paris, École nationale superieure des Beaux-Arts

Richard Dadd, Mercy--David Spareth Saul's Life
English, 1854
Los Angeles , J.Paul Getty Museum

I find it interesting that there seems to have been so little interest in this specific passage.  For it is this act, or rather the deliberate refusal to commit the sin of murder, that set David apart from the men of his age, demonstrates that he has been chosen by God as the next king, and continues to fashion David’s future as king of Israel, founder of a line of kings and, ultimately, ancestor of the Son of God.  And that is of far greater interest and value than the story of a shepherd boy who slays a giant with a slingshot and a stone.

© M. Duffy, 2019

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.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Still Out of Commission, But Improving

Nicolaes Maes, Old Woman Dozing
Dutch, 1656
Brussels, Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts
Almost another month has moved on since my last update on progress and things are getting better, though slowly.  My pain has lessened considerably.  I have now been off all the opioid pain killers for over two weeks, which means I am having to deal with the side effects of coming off them.  It's much worse than following my breast cancer surgery, mostly because that time, in spite of the complications, I was only taking them for about a month.  I've been taking some form of opioid since the beginning of July, so that's a much longer exposure or time to get acclimated to them.  The adjustment will take awhile, according to my pain doctor.  But the main thing is that I am off them now.  What was pain has been reduced to ache.  It aches a lot still, but not sufficiently to make me go back to the oxycodone. 

Among the side effects of dropping the oxycodone has been difficulty sleeping at night.  I can fall asleep quickly, but not stay asleep, awakening frequently, sometimes as much as several times an hour, and then have difficulty getting back to sleep.  Consequently, I sometimes fall asleep suddenly while sitting down.  It's been getting better the last few days, so maybe a corner has been turned.

My surgeon says that all looks good with the new architecture of my back on the inside and I don't need to see him till the end of March.  However, the restrictions still apply (no bending, lifting, twisting).  I still can't manage to do many things I was once able to do as I'm not strong enough right now.

Stamina is another issue.  I must walk, but can't really do a lot of walking.  I'm working on it, little by little.  When I saw the doctor last week I was able to tell him that I could walk half a mile.  This week I began working up to three quarters of a mile.  Maybe within the next couple of weeks I will be able to get as far as one mile.  I would be very happy with that, since it would offer more variety in where I can go on these walks.  And, best of all, the weather will be moving into spring soon!

This past week I have managed to resume blogging with two short posts.  Things will probably continue to be short for some time (unless considerable work was done on the subject before the disc ruptured) as I cannot sit for long.  Everything needs to be broken into small sessions in order to be accomplished.  Look for an upcoming longer work that was partially prepared before last July.

© M. Duffy, 2019

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Saint Peter Damian, Pray For Us! A Recurring Theme

Andrea Barbiani, Saint Peter Damian
Italian, 18th Century (d. 1779)
Ravenna, Biblioteca Classense

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,
who will judge the living and the dead,
and by his appearing and his kingly power:
proclaim the word;
be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient;
convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.
For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine
but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity,
will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth
and will be diverted to myths.
But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances;
put up with hardship;
perform the work of an evangelist;
fulfill your ministry."
(First Reading for the Memorial of Saint Peter Damian, February 21)

February 21 is the feast of Saint Peter Damian, who lived from 1007 to 1072, a period that perhaps to most of us seems impossibly far away, literally a thousand years ago.  However, a look at the life and times of Peter Damian is, in some ways, even more shocking because it sounds uncomfortably like today.  It is, therefore, extremely interesting that the much commented on meeting of the heads of every bishops’ conference, worldwide, to discuss the abuse of minors should open on his feast day.

Peter Damian was born into a noble family in the area around Ravenna, on the Adriatic coast of Italy.  Once this had been the capitol of the Byzantine Empire in Italy.  However, by the time of his birth it had lessened in importance versus the rising star of the Adriatic, Venice.  Being noble doesn’t, by itself, guarantee wealth, either then or now, and Peter’s family seems to have been large and poor.  His parents died when he was still a child and his care was assumed by one of his older brothers.  This brother sounds a bit like the evil sisters in Cinderella, for he sent his own brother to work as a shepherd and deprived him of status and birthright.  After a few years, a different brother, a man who was a priest in the diocese of Ravenna, learned of his younger brother’s plight, adopted him and took him with him to Ravenna for an education.  In gratitude for this brotherly kindness, Peter added that brother’s name, Damian, to his own name. 

Peter Damian grew up to be a fine scholar and a notable teacher.  He contributed a great deal to the ongoing creation of medieval philosophy.  However, in spite of his success, Peter Damian was uncomfortable with the corruption he saw around him, especially corruption within the Church. He gave up his academic career in favor of life in a recently formed monastery called Fonte Avellena.  This was one of a series of monastic foundations that were shaking up the face of western European monasticism.  Up until this time the great Benedictine foundation of Cluny in France had been the summit of the monastic life.  From this point on a variety of other possible ways of living out an orderly, vowed, existence would be possible in many different ways, from multiple religious orders. 

Attributed to Girolamo Muziano, Peter Damian Writing the Rule for His Hermits
Italian, 16th Century
Vatican, Vatican Museums,  Apostolic Palace, Map Rooms

Fonte Avellena was a monastery of hermits.  Many years later it would be merged into another religious order, called the Camaldolese Order, founded around this time by Saint Romauld (also from the Ravenna area).  But at the time it seems to have been a sole institution, not affiliated with any other religious foundation.  Saint Peter Damian eventually became Abbot of Fonte Avellena.  He wrote a rule for his monastery and also contributed much to philosophy and theology and is remembered today primarily for these writings. It is for these works that he is placed in Heaven by Dante Alighieri, in his third book of the Divine Comedy, Paradise.

Giovanni di Paolo, Dante and Beatrice Meet Saint Peter Damian
From Paradiso, Canto XXI of the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
Italian, c. 1450
London, British Library
MS Yates Thompson 36, fol. 167r

However, in the last year or so, renewed interest has focused on another of his activities, as a monastic and Church reformer.  The last years of the tenth century were bad ones for the Church.  One might say with some justice that there is a recurring flow within the greater history of the Church.  Approximately every 500 years a wave of sin seems poised to overwhelm the Church, to nullify its mission and to destroy it from within.  One such occurred in the fifth century, when the wave of barbarians from outside combined with the lack of faithfulness within.  But great reformers such as Saint Benedict and Saint Gregory the Great arose and redirected the Church toward a more rigorous following of the Gospel.  Similarly, the year 1500 found the Church in the hands of the horribly corrupt Pope Alexander VI, with his string of acknowledged children, reigning over a corrupt and venal clergy.  The disgust among the faithful caused by this was one of the factors that led within a few years to the beginning of the Protestant upheaval, to the Council of Trent and, eventually, to the great reforming saints of the sixteenth century.

In the years around 1000 the problems were no different.  There was terrible corruption, among them the selling of sacramental offices, such as that of bishop, and worst of all, much sexual sin among the clergy.  Priests were still permitted to marry at this time, but there were those who were unfaithful to their wives, unmarried priests with mistresses and a huge wave of homosexual activity among the clergy, especially in the abuse of boys, young men and fellow clerics.  Indeed, it sounds like virtually the same situation we find ourselves in today. 

When, last summer, Pope Francis called the heads of the bishops’ conferences worldwide to Rome for a meeting on the topic of sex abuse and the protection of minors and announced the date of February 21 as the opening day, many commentators mentioned the irony of the choice of dates.  For it is the feast day of Saint Peter Damian. 

Ercole de Roberti, Virgin and Child with Saints Anne, Elizabeth, Augustine and Peter Damian
Italian, c. 1479-1481
Milan, Pinacoteca di Brera

In his day, Peter Damian was asked by a string of reforming popes to undertake the task of cleaning up the situation.  He was somewhat reluctant to undertake this as he was very contented with his monastic life and with his work.  However, he accepted the job and went on to become a very effective reformer, traveling considerable distances to do his work.  By reminding the world what following Christ should look like and contrasting it with the debauched lives many were leading, he persuaded them to repent and sin no more.  He used the information he gained from the work to write a book called The Book of Gomorrah, which was recently published in a new translation1.  It makes hair raising reading that, sadly, sounds like it comes directly from current 2019 newspaper accounts    Then, as now, it is evident that for some clerics the Church is a career path and not a vocation, leading to a cynical attitude to all aspects of church life.  So, not much has changed in a thousand years!

Josef Ferdinand Fromiller, Virgin and Child Appearing to Peter Damian
Austrian, c. 1740-1750
Osslach, Monastery Church

Peter Damian worked tirelessly for several years preaching and writing and guiding the clergy and the monks back to fidelity, to renounce their sin.  Along the way he was made the Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia and was also sent on diplomatic missions for the popes.  However, he eventually renounced his titles and position and returned to the life of his monastery, from which he had been called by necessity and obedience.  He did continue to undertake some missions for the Holy See and on one of these he died in 1072.

Up till now, the Church has been rescued from these recurring periods of clerical vice by great reforming voices.  In our current period they have not yet appeared.  We can pray that the event of the Vatican meeting, opening on Saint Peter Damian’s feast day, will be the first event of a new reform movement, with great saints among it, to lead the Church away from sin and back to fidelity to the Lord. 

Philipp Veit, Scenes from Dante's Paradiso
German, c. 1818-1824
Rome, Casino Massimo

“Grant, we pray, almighty God, that we may so follow the teaching and example of the Bishop Saint Peter Damian, that, putting nothing before Christ and always ardent in the service of your Church, we may be led to the joys of eternal light. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.” 2

© M. Duffy, 2019

1.  Saint Peter Damian, The Book of Gomorrah and Saint Peter Damian’s Struggle Against Ecclesiastical Corruption, Translated and Annotated, with Biographical Introduction by Matthew Cullinan Hoffman, New Braunfels, Texas, Ite Ad Thomam Books and Media, 2015. 
2.  Optional Prayer for Feast of Saint Peter Damian. 


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.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Calling Peter: From Fish to Men

The Calling of Peter and Andrew
From Sermons by Maurice de Sully
Italian (Milan or Genoa), c. 1320-1330
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Francais 187, fol. 19r

"While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening
to the word of God,
he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.
He saw two boats there alongside the lake;
the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.
Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,
he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.
Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,
"Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch."
Simon said in reply,
"Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,
but at your command I will lower the nets."
When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish
and their nets were tearing.
They signaled to their partners in the other boat
to come to help them.
They came and filled both boats
so that the boats were in danger of sinking.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said,
"Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man."
For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him
and all those with him,
and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
who were partners of Simon.
Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid;
from now on you will be catching men."
When they brought their boats to the shore,
they left everything and followed him.”

Luke 5:1-11
Gospel for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
February 10, 2019

Early in his mission Jesus called to himself a group of people who became his followers, his disciples and, ultimately, for eleven of the twelve men named in the Gospels, his Apostles.  The stories of the men he called are found in the various Gospel accounts.  All of them held modest positions in their own time.  None of them were among the elite of the era.  Four of them in particular were working at their craft, that of being fishermen on the lake of Galilee, Genneseret, as related by the Gospel of today.  These four men, and especially the three named Simon, James and John, would become the nucleus of the group of disciples.  One of them would have his name changed from Simon to Peter because of his rock like personality.  The lives of all would be changed forever by that single night’s fishing expedition and they would go on to spread the word about the Word and change billions of lives over twenty centuries.  Each year the Church reminds us of the event, of its consequences and that we too are called to follow in the footsteps of these fishermen, farmers and tax collectors.

Early Images

The subject of the calling of the apostles has been a constant one in the history of western art, but it has not been highly popular, at least not the calling of the first disciples, like Peter, Andrew, James and John.  The dramatic conversion of Matthew, the tax farmer, has always been more famous.  Nevertheless, there is a nice trail of iconography, even if a narrow one.

Christ Calling of Peter and Andrew
Reproduction of a Sixth Century Original
Byzantine, c. 1924
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art

For the first 1,500 years of Christianity (although not much “art” was produced in the first two hundred or so) the story was told very simply.  Initially, Jesus stands on the shore directing the men to put down their nets.  

The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew
English, c. 1160-1180
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters Collection
The words engraved on the banderol above the hand of Jesus are "Venite post me" ("Come, follow me"), a paraphrase of his invitation to the two brothers.  The word "post" is abbreviated in typical medieval fashion.  The abbreviation is indicated by the apostrophe that follows the letter p. 

Duccio, The Calling of Peter and Andrew
Italian, c. 1308-1311
Washington, National Gallery of Art

Lorenzo Veneziano, The Calling of Peter and Andrew
Italian, c. 1370
Berlin, Gemäldegalerie der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin

Giovanni di Benedetto and Workshop, The Calling of Peter and Andrew
From A Missal
Italian, c. 1385-1390
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 757, fol. 367r

This isn’t exactly how the story is told in Luke, but is probably a bit of a fudge between the story of the calling of the Apostles and the scene in Galilee after the Resurrection, where the risen Jesus summons them to breakfast and a miraculously large catch.  However, we can be fairly certain which story is really meant by several clues:  the presence of another (or even several other boats) and the absence of a fire, since one of the points of the post-Resurrection account is that Jesus is seen to cook and eat fish, proving He is no ghost, but a real Person.

Master of the Soane Josephus and Others, The Calling of Peter and Andrew
From Bible Historiale of Edward IV by Guyart des Moulins
Flemish, c. 1479
London, British Library
MS Royal 15 D I, fol. 368r

By the fifteenth-century the story begins to be told accurately, with Jesus located in a boat, instead of on the shore.  Several episodes from the same story might be depicted in the same frame, so we might see Jesus sitting in more than one boat.  In such works the artist was trying to honor the several different points at which Jesus can have been active in the story. And, as had been true from the beginning, the images were to a certain extent highly symbolic.  That is, the image is like a tableau.  There is little or no attempt to depict motion.  Each image stands for, or symbolizes, the Biblical chapter on which it is based, but the storytelling is not dynamic.

Christ Calling Peter and Andrew
From a Gospel Lectionary
Italian (Padua), 1436
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 180, fol. 105r

The Influence of Raphael

In 1515, the very important artistic genius, Raphael, was commissioned to design a set of tapestries for use in the lower lever of the Sistine Chapel.  The hangings were to be used only on extremely special occasions, which is why they survive today in beautiful condition.  They were woven in Flanders, then part of the territory controlled by the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V.  

Raphael, The Calling of Peter and Andrew
Full Size Tapestry Cartoon
Italian, 1515
London, Victoria and Albert Museum

Since Raphael could not abandon his many projects then underway in Rome (such as the painted decoration of many parts of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican) he prepared full sized “cartoons” to direct the weavers.  This kind of cartoon is a full-scale, highly detailed, painted version of the artist’s intentions.  For many years they had been used to assist artists in transferring their ideas onto the wet plaster which is the surface on which frescoes are painted.  They were similarly used to transfer outlines of works to canvas or panel for moveable paintings.  And they were used for tapestry.  The tapestry cartoons were placed behind the upright looms on which the weavers worked, so that they could see what they were supposed to be creating.  That is why, incidentally, directions are reversed on the tapestry, since weavers also face the back of the piece they are making.  Therefore, the front of the tapestry, which actually faces the cartoon surface reproduces it backwards, so that left is right. 

Raphael, Completed Tapestry of the Calling of Peter and Andres
Flemish, c. 1519
Vatican, Musei Vaticana, Pinacoteca

By a kind of miracle, the weavers kept the cartoons once the tapestries were finished in 1519.  They produced additional sets for wealthy collectors in the Low Countries and elsewhere in Northern Europe.  The cartoons eventually ended up (again somewhat miraculously) in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.  It is extraordinary that for this major work by a major artist of the High Renaissance we have both the original and the contemporary tapestry copy, complete.  One can see the original cartoons in London and some (occasionally all) the tapestry copies in Rome. 

However, Raphael’s masterful version of the scene had a huge impact.  It is dynamic, without being showy.  Peter is moved to acknowledge his sinfulness to Christ, with his brother not far behind, while around him the other men go about their attempts to contain the fish. Not surprisingly, it set the standard for many years afterwards.  In the later part of the sixteenth century artists frequently copied it virtually verbatim in their own work on the subject.  The quotation was sometimes disguised by setting it into the background of a genre scene.

Jacopo Bassano, The Calling of Peter and Andrew
Italian, 1545
Washington, National Gallery of Art

Battista Franco, The Calling of Peter and Andrew
Italian, c. 1550
Paris, Musée du Louvre, Département des Arts graphiques

However, one of Raphael’s admirers and early biographer, Giorgio Vasari, returned to the idea of the encounter being on the shore.  He did this not once, but twice. 

Giorgio Vasari, The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew
Italian, 1551
Arezzo, Badia di Santi Flora e Lucilla

Vasari also returned to the earlier method of telling other parts of the story in the background.  In the background of his painting in the Vatican Andrew points Jesus out to Peter, a story narrated in the Gospel of John (John 1:35-41).

Giorgio Vasari, The Calling of St. Peter and St. Andrew
Italian, No Date (Lived 1511-1574)
Vatican City, Apostolic Palace, Former Room of the Swiss Guard

From this point on, throughout the centuries, the narrative of the meeting between Jesus and the man who would one day be the foundation for the living Church that He would establish could be seen by artists as taking place either on land or in the boats, but they were never the simply static, symbolic images of an already known story.  That is, until the 20th century, with its techniques of deconstruction and minimalism.

Attributed to Marteen de Vos, Scenes from the Life of Christ and the Apostles
Flemish, 16th Century
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

Il Cigoli, The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew
Italian, 1607
Florence, Galleria Palatina, Palazzo Pitti

Juan de las Roelas, The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew
Spanish, c. 1610
Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes

Peter Paul Rubens, The Calling of Peter
Flemish, c. 1618-1619
London, National Gallery

Luca Giordano, The Calling of Peter and Andrew
Italian, c. 1670-1700
Pittsburgh, Frick Art and Historical Center

Michel Corneille II, The Calling of Peter and Andrew
French, 1673
Rennes, Musée des Beaux-Arts

Jean Jouvenet, The Calling of Peter and Andrew
French, c. 1700
Paris, Musée du Louvre

Charles Joseph Natoire, The Calling of Peter and Andrew
French, c. 1750
Pau, Musée des Beaux-Arts

Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps, The Calling of Peter and Andrew
French, 1853
London, Wallace Collection

James Tissot, The Calling of Peter
French, c. 1886-1896
New York, Brooklyn Museum

They now depicted landscapes that could be seen as real places and the deep emotions of surprise, penitence and commitment that are included in the Gospel account.

However, no artists appear to have pursued the astonishing example of Caravaggio's recently recovered painting of the subject.  

Caravaggio, The Calling of Peter and Andrew
Italian, c. 1602-1604
Hampton Court Palace, Royal Collection Trust

This quiet painting of psychological encounter is equal to the artist's better known painting of the Calling of Saint Matthew.  The picture, which had been classed for years as a copy of a lost work, was re-examined and reassessed during a recent cleaning.  Its provenance is impressive, as it was one of the painting acquired by King Charles I of England in the formation of his fabulous (now largely dispersed) collection only decades after the artist's death in 1610.  Upon the king's execution in 1649 it was included in the sale of the contents of his several palaces, but was reacquired by Charles' son, Charles II, at the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.  It has been part of the Royal Collection ever since.  

However, with the dawn of the era of modern art, such expressions of emotional content have been abandoned.  The resulting images of the calling of these two apostles has, in a sense, come full circle back to the more symbolic representations of a much earlier era.

Two twentieth-century stained glass windows from Switzerland make this evident.

Eugene Dunand, The Calling of Saint Peter
Swiss, 1927
Geneva, Eglise Saints-Pierre-et-Paul, Meinier

Paul Monnier, "Follow Me and I Will Make You Fishers of Men"
Swiss, 1964
Geneva, Church of Saint Bernard de Menthon, Plan-les-Ouates

© M. Duffy, 2019 with additional material 2022 and 2024

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.