Thursday, December 9, 2021

An Advent of Promise

Claes Brouwer, Jesus Heals the Woman Bent Over and the Parable of the Fig Tree
From a History Bible
Dutch (Utrecht), c. 1420
The Hague, Koniklijk Bibliotheek
MS KB 78 D 38 II, fol. 170r

I have frequently used this image of Jesus healing the woman bent over to represent my own situation.  A few months ago I wrote about my summer of discontent.  I'm finally happy to say that things are better now.

My broken leg healed quite fast, probably because I hated the boot cast so much that I would use it to walk only if absolutely necessary.  My spine doctor advised me to adopt this policy because he said that many of his patients only began to have trouble with their spines when they had to wear one of those boots.  Consequently, I stayed off my feet for about six weeks.  That was truly a late summer of discontent!  Then, happily, the very well known orthopedist who was dealing with my leg told me that I could stop wearing it.  Indeed, he told me that my leg had healed remarkably well.  

Since then I have gradually increased my activities.  It was a bit frightening at first, especially to go out of doors alone, and for several weeks I confined my walks to just the few blocks around my apartment building.  I don't think I was ever more than two blocks away at any time.  But, little by little, I began to go farther and now it's pretty much normal activity again.  

I was able to return to join the rehearsals of my choral group and to participate in the concert we did on November 21.  In spite of my leg and back I managed to mount the podium to my place with the other sopranos (and the timpani and English horn players) and to stand for almost the entire concert, taking breaks only during solo portions.  I astonished myself quite a bit by this much standing.  And I was thrilled to find that I could stand up from a sitting position once again. My right thigh muscles are weak but definitely back on the job.  It made my back hurt, but not unbearably, and not enough to distract me from the music of Mozart and Bach.

I was even able to host a somewhat disastrous Thanksgiving dinner to which I invited two friends.  It was tremendous fun, mostly because it was such a disaster.  It began with the discovery s that the store handling my Thanksgiving order lost most of my items.  All I got was the turkey (thanks be to God), the prepared mashed potatoes (ordered to save my back) and two pears.  They were able to replace a few other items overnight, but the dessert was unobtainable till Saturday, which didn't help at all.  That was disaster number 1.

Disaster number 2 was that the turkey kept rolling over in the pan, just as I was trying to put it in the oven.  Consequently, the butter pats that were on its skin kept falling onto the well heated oven floor, which I could do nothing about at the time.  It took four tries to get the turkey to go in.  And the butter from the previous three tries just stayed on the oven floor, melting away and smoking dreadfully.  My first guest and I were forced to open the door and the windows to clear the smoke.  

Disaster number 3 occurred when my first guest and I started to set the table.  As we began to expand the table it fell apart!  The table is one I inherited from my parents.  It is certainly older than I am as I have very clear memories of it as a child, especially memories of how much my mother cared for it.  She would polish it frequently and sing while she did it.  It was a joy to see her so happily engaged in caring for her lovely table.  I'm afraid that since her death I have not cared for it so well.  I have had few opportunities to use it opened and consequently have skipped on its maintenance.  Indeed the last time I did use it was in 2018.  In the intervening three years I guess the dryness of the wood has increased to the point that the pieces won't hold together.  It came apart in three pieces, possibly more as I haven't moved it or examined it too closely since Thanksgiving.  

The day was saved by the second guest, one of my neighbors.  She arrived right after the table failed, then went back to her own apartment and brought me her folding card table.  We were able to put that in place, set it for dinner and have a lovely time.  Which just goes to show that disasters aren't always as disastrous as we initially think. 

So, at the moment, I am feeling better, even if the underlying issue is not actually getting better.  An MRI taken just before Thanksgiving shows that the situation is even worse than originally thought because the enormous quantity of fluid released by the collapsing disks has been absorbed by my body and is no longer confusing the images.  There are two disks involved this time, so almost my entire lumbar spine area has collapsed.  I will need surgery, but I have told the surgeon that I want to wait awhile.  I will have one or maybe two epidural shots in the near future, but surgery will possibly not happen until late February or early March. 

In the meantime I am trying to maintain an Advent spirit in my daily activities and prayers.  Advent is a season I love.  I love the quality of yearning that one finds in the prayers and hymns associated with the season.  It's the attitude we should maintain in our lives as we await the coming of the Lord in our own hearts and souls.  

I wish you all a blessed Advent and a joyous Christmas season.  

Thursday, September 9, 2021

The Summer of Our Discontent

Pierre LeGros, Saint Stanislaus Kostka on His Deathbed
French, 1702-1703
Rome, Church of Sant'Andrea al Quiriniale, Cell of Saint Stanislaus Kostka
Saint Stanislaus Kostka is a patron saint of broken bones.

With all due respect to Shakespeare, it is not just winters that can bring discontent.  There is no need to mention all the reasons why the summer of 2021, and especially the bitter last days of August, may have caused discontent from a national and global perspective.  But, on the purely personal side, this summer has been one of particular personal discontent for me.

Followers of this blog will remember that three years ago I had a summer and autumn of extreme discontent and pain when my spine finally collapsed after years of growing arthritis.  Spinal fusion surgery in December 2018 repaired that terrible damage and recovery has been steady, if made somewhat uneven by enforced inactivity in the early days of the COVID pandemic.  

Things began to pick up markedly following completion of vaccination in February of this year.  I became almost fully active again, even though some of my most cherished activities, such as volunteering at the Metropolitan Museum, going to the opera and choral singing were still in hiatus.  My walker was finally being left behind and I felt better than I have for several years.

Alas, I may have been too frisky.  Some home projects had been waiting for months and, at the end of May, I started working on them.  Closets got reorganized, donations of the unworn were bagged up ready to go, I began to plan for a summer of sewing.  You get the picture.  

Unfortunately, it was too much.  Early in June I began to hurt.  By mid-June the pain was becoming worse.  By early July I seemed to be back where I started, with the exception of still being able to stand up straight.  An MRI late in June showed another disk had partially ruptured.  I began to have to stay home and rest.  The pain became intense.  Epidural injections were scheduled.

Then, on July 21 I paid a routine visit to my primary care doctor.  She took one look at me and told me she was going to call an ambulance to take me to the ER.  She had noticed that I had almost collapsed during the short walk from her waiting room to her office.  I told her that the pain had suddenly worsened that morning.  She judged me to be a fall risk.  

An MRI done at the emergency room revealed that the rupture had gotten worse in the weeks since the previous one was done.  And I was a definitely a fall risk.  I have had several small falls since that day.  The communication between the nerves of my spine and the muscles of my thighs had been cut off by the flood of spinal fluid released from the disk.  Messages just weren't getting through.  So, commands about standing up, stepping up and balancing were not being received.  The muscles weren't responding because they were receiving no signals about what to do.  This is a terrifying situation to be in, as well as causing minor embarrassment regarding getting into vehicles or out of chairs.  

A second epidural shot in mid-August helped greatly, as did physiotherapy.  But, they made me too optimistic, I think.  I began to plan a walking program every day to regain strength faster.  Instead of that goal, all I accomplished for my first day of the program was another trip to the emergency room -- this time for a broken leg!

So, this is the explanation of some of the sluggishness readers may have noticed in my blog housekeeping.  Sitting at the computer is now quite difficult as the leg has to be kept elevated.  There is also some additional pain, making me less able to spend as much time as I would like doing just about anything.  

So, for the present and for the next month or two things will be in abeyance.  I will still try to do a monthly refresh of the side listings, but there will not be any new material added in the main column.  

I hope that two months will be sufficient to heal both issues, or at lease to make them less troublesome in this regard.  

Have a blessed autumn.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Iconography of Saint Anne -- Subject guide

Hans Wydyz (or Weiditz),Madonna and Child with Saint Anne
German, c. 1520
Freiburg-im-Briesgau, Augustinermuseum

Here's a list of my remarks on the iconography of Saint Anne.  You can link directly from the list to the article you want to read. 

1.   Introduction, Background of Joachim and Anne plus Annunciation of Mary's Birth
2.   The Meeting of Anne and Joachim at the Golden Gate
3.   Birth of Mary
4.   Presentation of Mary in the Temple
5.   Saint Anne as Teacher (Education of the Virgin Mary)
6.   Anne, Root of the Tree of Salvation (the Anna selbdritt image)
7.   Saint Anne, Grandmother
8.   Saint Anne, Matriarch of the Holy Kindred
9.   Saint Anne in the Communion of Saints
10. Saint Anne, Patron and Intercessor

I have added new material for the iconography of Saint Anne most of the years since 2011.  Please refer to the annual July links below or on the right for these.  

An unforeseen health condition made it impossible to post one for 2021.  But I hope to make up for this in the next few days with an update for 2022.

Please pray for me and especially ask Saint Anne to intercede for me so that I can continue to add to the available knowledge of her iconography through the centuries.

© M. Duffy, 2022

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Saint Anthony’s Image and When It Got That Way

Willem van Herp the Elder, Saint Anthony Distributing Bread
Flemish, c.1662
London, National Gallery

Happy Feast of Saint Anthony! After completing the article of yesterday regarding the Miracle of the Mule, I became intrigued to find out when it was that the popular image of Saint Anthony, the one with the Infant Jesus, began to drive out the other possible images of the saint.*

From a somewhat cursory review of the iconography of Saint Anthony, it appears that up till about 1600 his iconography was quite varied.

Early Images

The earliest images showed a very serious Saint Anthony, sometimes in company with Saint Francis, as would be appropriate for an early Franciscan saint.  However, there is no agreed upon "portrait".  Different artists saw him at different ages, with different hair styles, sometimes bearded, sometimes clean shaven, etc.  This is not surprising for a period in which the idea of portrait resemblance, such as we know today, was impossible.

(Fascinating details about his life, which I was not aware of for many years, for example, that he was not from the town of Padua and that his name was not Anthony, can be found in my earlier article "The Saint Anthony I Never Knew".)

Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Anthony of Padua
from Livre d'images de Madame Marie
Belgian (Hainaut), 1285-1290
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Nouvelle acquisition francaise 16251, fol. 94v

Simone Martini, Saint  Anthony of Padua and Saint Francis of Assisi
Italian, 1317
Assisi, Basilica of San Francesco

Sometimes he is accompanied by other Franciscan saints.

Alvise Vivarini, Virgin and Child with Saints Louis of Toulouse, Anthony of Padua, Francis of Assisi and Bernardino of Siena
Italian, 1480
Venice, Galleria dell'Accademia

Moretto, Saint Bonaventure and Saint Anthony of Padua
Italian, c. 1500-1550
Paris, Musée du Louvre

Sometimes he is seen alone or with other non-Franciscan saints or with various donors.

Maso di Banco, Saint Anthony of Padua
Italian, c. 1340
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Tommaso del Mazza, Saints John the Baptist and Anthony of Padua with Donor
Italian, c. 1386
Avignon, Musée du Petit Palais

Benozzo Gozzoli, Saint Anthony of Padua with Angels and Donors
Italian, 1450s
Rome, Santa Maria in Aracoeli

Rather quickly he became a youngish, clean shaven man.  Almost always he is shown carrying a book, an obvious reference to his acclaimed knowledge of the Bible and to his own writings. Sometimes he also carries a burning flame, probably symbolic of his preaching ministry.  Lilies were added later.

Vincenzo Foppa, Saint Anthony of Padua
Italian, c.1495-1500
Washington, National Gallery of Art

Bernardo Zanale, Saint Anthony of Padua
Italian, 1502-1507
Milan, Museo Poldi Pezzoli

In the Sacra Conversazione

From the 15th century he also appears in the genre known as the Sacra ConversazioneIn this kind of picture the Madonna and Child are shown in company with several saints. The 15th century also appears to be the period in which the lily first appears as an attribute in addition to the book. The lily is a traditional symbol of purity. 

Giovanni Mazone, Nativity with Saints Francis and Anthony of Padua introducing Pope Sixtus IV and his nephew, Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere
Known as the Della Rovere Triptych
Italian, c. 1489
Avignon, Musée du Petit Palais

This is not a Sacra Conversazione in the strictest sense, but I include it for the interest in the main characters.  In the left wind, Saint Francis introduces Pope Sixtus IV while, in the right wing, Saint Anthony of Padua introduces the Pope's nephew, Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere.  Giuliano della Rovere followed in his uncle's footsteps, becoming Pope Julius II in 1503.  He was the great patron of the Roman High Renaissance, famously employing Michelangelo on his tomb and on the Sistine Chapel ceiling and Raphael in the Vatican Stanze.  

Titian, Madonna and Child with Saint Anthony of Padua and Saint Roch
Italian, c. 1508
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

Garofalo, Virgin and Child with Saints
Italian, 1517
London, National Gallery

Claudio Coello, The Virgin and Child between the Theological Virtues and Saints
Spanish, 1669
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

Life of Saint Anthony

Other depictions focus on events from Saint Anthony's life and the legends that surrounded him.  Among them are images of his preaching activities.  

Giovanni Antonio Requesta, Saint Anthony Preaching
Italian, c. 1510-1511
Padua, Scuola del Santo, Sala Capitolare

Arnould de Vuez, Saint Anthony Preaching
French, c. 1700-1720
Lille, Musée des Beaux-Arts

Anonymous, Saint Anthony Preaching Before Pope Gregory IX
Peruvian, 18th Century
Philadelphia, Museum of Art

Sermon to the Fish

While artists did depict Anthony preaching to human audiences, more frequently they show the audience to be composed of fish.  These pictures refer to a charming story about his decision to preach to the fish of the Adriatic when the people of the nearby town of Rimini refused to listen.  According to the story, the fish came close to the shore, arranged themselves in orderly rows and stuck their heads out of the water to listen attentively.
Girolamo Tessari, Saint Anthony Preaching to the Fish
Italian, c. 1335-1337
Camposampiero, Santuario del Noce

Simon Bening, Saint Anthony Preaching to the Fish
From the Da Costa Hours
Flemish (Bruges), c. 1510-1520
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 399, fol. 308v 

Paolo Veronese, Saint Anthony Preaching to the Fish
Italian, c. 1580
Rome, Galleria Borghese

Attributed to Francisco de Herrera the Elder, Saint Anthony Preaching to the Fish
Spanish, c. 1630
Detroit, Institute of Arts

Juan Carreňo de Miranda, Saint Anthony Preaching to the Fish
Spanish, 1646
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

Gilles Hallet, Saint Anthony Preaching to the Fish
Flemish, Second Half of the 17th Century
Rome, Church of San Isidoro, Cappella di Sant'Antonio

Arnold Böcklin, Saint Anthony Preaching to the Fish
Swiss, 1892
Zürich, Kunsthaus Zürich

Like the Miracle of the Mule, this story reveals that the association of the Franciscan spirit with the natural world has been recognized for centuries.

Miracles of Saint Anthony

Other miracles of Saint Anthony of Padua were also depicted from time to time.  

Among them are:

The dramatic story of Saint Anthony's Miracle of Bilocation to assist his father, who was wrongly accused of murder.  Not only did Anthony bilocate to Portugal, while remaining in Italy, but he also revived the dead man who testified that Anthony's father was not his murderer.

Willem van Herp the Elder, Bilocation of Saint Anthony of Padua
Flemish, c. 1660-1670
Dijon, Musée national Magnin

There are also other scenes of Anthony reviving the dead, including the miracle in which he brought a dead child back to life.

Donatello, Miracle of the Dead Child
Italian, c. 1447-1450
Padua, Basilica de Sant'Antonio, Altar

Piero della Francesca, Saint Anthony Raises a Dead Child
From the Polyptych of Saint Anthony
Italian, c. 1460
Perugia, Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria

Antonio Lombardo, Miracle of the Dead Child
Italian, c. 1500-1504
Padua, Basilica di Sant'Antonio

Titian, Miracle of the Dead Child
Italian, 1511
Padua, Scuola del Santo

Andrea Sacchi, Saint Anthony Reviving a Dead Man
Italian, c. 1635
Edinburgh, National Galleries of Scotland

Francisco de Goya, Miracle of Saint Francis
Spanish, 1798
Madrid, Church of San Antonio de la Florida

Adeodato Malatesta, Miracle of Saint Anthony
Italian, Second Half of 19th Century
Sassuolo, Palazzo Ducale di Sassuolo

Another famous miracle was the healing of a horrific self-inflicted injury, in which a young man cut off his own foot out of remorse following an argument with his mother. Saint Anthony's prayers and actions healed the terrible injury.

Donatello, Miracle of the Repentent Son
Italian, c. 1447-1450
Padua, Basilica de Sant'Antonio

Antonio Lombardo, Miracle of the Remorseful Son
Italian, c. 1500-1504
Padua, Basilica di Sant'Antonio

Titian, Healing of the Wrathful Son
Italian, 1511
Padua, Scuola del Santo

Sebastiano Ricci, Miracle of the Repentant Son
Italian, c. 1725-1730
Paris, Musée du Louvre

Saint Anthony in Eternity

And, finally, Saint Anthony has been depicted as a saint, doing what saints do in eternity.  That is, they join the angels in offering praise to God and intercede through their prayers for those still in the living world.  

Saint Anthony of Padua Serenaded by Angels
from Heures de Louis de Savoie
French (Savoy), c. 1445-1460
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 9473, fol. 171v

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, Immaculate Conception with Saints Francis of Assisi and Anthony of Padua
Italian, c. 1649-1550
Minneapolis, Institute of Art

Follower of Basilio Santa Cruz Pumacallao, Saint Bonaventure and Saint Anthony of Padua
Peruvian, c. 1670-1690
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Donato Creti, Glorification of Saint Anthony of Padua
Italian, c. 1700-1725
Paris, Musée du Louvre

Giovanni Battista Gaulli, Triumph of the Franciscan Order
Italian, 1707
Rome, Church of Santi Apostoli

Giovanni Battista Pittoni, Saints Presenting a Woman Donor to the Virgin and Child
Italian, c. 1720s
Cleveland, Museum of Art

Saint Anthony with the Christ Child --  The Best Known Image

However, the most common depiction of Saint Anthony, the one which most people would recognize immediately falls into none of these modes.  This is the subject of Saint Anthony of Padua with the Infant Jesus.

It is at the end of the fifteenth century when this iconography appears to begin. The image recalls the apparition of the Christ Child that may or may not be a legend.  The event is claimed to have taken place in France (though there is also an Italian location that claims it). According to the story, a bright light was observed in St. Anthony’s room in a house where he was staying overnight. The householder went to investigate this unusual occurrence and saw Saint Anthony holding the Divine Child (from whom the light was emanating) in his arms.  Consequently, the Christ Child began to appear in works of art almost as if it was one of the attributes of the saint, like the lilies or the book.

Workshop of Juan de Carrion, Saint Anthony of Padua
from  Hours of Infante Don Alfonso of Castille
Spanish (Burgos), c. 1465-1480
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 854, fol. 196r

Hans Memling, Saint Anthony of Padua
Flemish, c. 1485-1490
Chicago, Art Institute

Gerard David and Workshop, 
Saint Anthony of Padua
From the Saint Anne Altarpiece
Dutch, c. 1500-1520
Washington, National Gallery of Art

Gerard David, Saint Anthony of Padua with a Nun
Dutch, c. 1500
London, Victoria and Albert Museum

Simon Bening, Saint Anthony of Padua
From a Book of Hours
Flemish (Bruges(, 1531
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 451, fol. 122v

El Greco, Saint Anthony of Padua
Greco-Spanish, c.1580
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

Attributed to Pedro de Obregon the Younger, Saint Anthony of Padua
Spanish, 17th Century
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

Anthony Van Dyck, Saint Anthony of Padua Adoring the Christ Child
Flemish, c. 1630-1640
Brussels, Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique

Francisco de Zurbaran, Saint Anthony of Padua
Spanish, 1635-1650
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

Gaspard de Crayer, Saint Anthony of Padua
Flemish, 1655
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

Antonio de Pereda, Saint Anthony of Padua
Spanish, Second half of the 17th Century
Budapest, Museum of Fine Arts

Guercino, St. Anthony of Padua
Italian, c. 1656
Private Collection

Alonso Cano, Saint Anthony of Padua
From the Capilla de Santa Maria de Jesus, Alcala de Heneres
Spanish, c. 1660
 Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

Francisco de Herrera el Mozo, Saint Anthony of Padua
Spanish, c. 1650-1685
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

Bartolome Esteban Murillo, Saint Anthony of Padua
Spanish, 1668
Seville, Museo de Bellas Artes

Claudio Coello, Saint Anthony of Padua
Spanish, Second Half of the 17th Century
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

This became by far the most widely known image of Saint Anthony from the seventeenth century to our own day. Over time, the details of the event (the room, the light) were replaced by a simplified image of Saint Anthony standing, holding the lily, the book and the Holy Child.

Giuseppe Bazzani, Saint Anthony of Padua
Italian, 1740-1750
London, National Gallery

Johann Jakob Zeiller, St. Anthony of Padua
Austrian, c.1762
Ottobeuren, Monastery Church of Saints Theodore and Alexander

Giambattista Tiepolo, Saint Anthony of Padua
Italian, 1767-1769
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Saint Anthony of Padua
French, c. 1825-1850
Paris, Musée du Louvre

© M. Duffy, 2011, updated 2017. Revised and updated 2021.

*  This article was originally written ten years ago, in June of 2011.  Those intervening ten years have seen an explosion in the amount of information and images that are available online.  Indeed, this is one area in which the disastrous pandemic caused by the COVID virus has had a beneficial effect.   Museums and libraries were closed and, therefore, had to turn to the internet to keep their presence alive.  Much more information about collections was shared during this past year by some museums than they have shared in the last ten!  

It has been my continual practice to periodically revisit my prior essays so as to incorporate new information or newly available or updated images.  Refinements in the technology of images and the availability of increased bandwidth means that newer images are generally far more detailed and rich than those available in earlier years.  For this reason I am constantly searching for and replacing images.  

This year I found so much new material on Saint Anthony and the miracles he performed, as well as the charming story of his sermon to the fish that I decided to totally revamp the article.  To all intents and purposes it is a new article.