Monday, 19 March 2012

Pictures for Mysteries

In a recent post I mentioned meditating on the mysteries of the Holy Rosary using Art.  A friend has given me a couple of wonderful books: one is the Annunciation and the other is the Crucifixion, as represneted in art. Both contain hundreds of images from the 5th century to the present.  

They are both fabulous books, and provide a rich source of images to choose from, to aid your meditation.  I say images, rather than paintings, as they include pictures of statuary, mosaics, stained glass windows and other media, as well as icons and paintings.

Looking at the Annunciation first; there are many favourites are here, of course, such as Duccio, and Fra Angelico, but there are also many new (to me) things to discover.  I was not familiar with Brice Marden’s Annunciation before (see image), but find it strangely compelling.  There are a few disappointments (there are only so many counter-reformation putti I can take, and Salvador Dalí’s Annunciation leaves me cold), but overall the selection is fabulous, and having them brought together chronologically is fascinating.

Turning to the Crucifixion, it is a similar story: Fra Angelico again turns in a fabulous image, and there's a wonderful Rembrandt etching I hadn't known before. Perhaps there are more pictures in this book which I dislike: but given the subject matter that may, of course, be a good thing.  Incidentally, Dalí’s Crucifixion (based on a drawing by St John of the Cross) is one of his works I really appreciate.

As far as I can see, they are the only two that Phaidon do (but I got bored of looking after checking for Visitation and Nativity, so if you want to prove me wrong: here’s your opportunity).  But they are both rich sources for meditation on these particular mysteries.


Patricius said...

I think it is interesting how all of the traditional fifteen mysteries of the Rosary can be summed up in a clear and recognisable image. Some years ago in a medieval church in Salisbury I saw the traces of some formerly lost wall paintings part of a cycle of which the first three and only surviving were, respectively, the Annunciation, the Visitation and the Nativity. It seems to beg the question: which came first- the pictures or the Rosary?

Patricius said...

Oh, and you refer to a Brice Marden. I do not know him but the image linked-to includes the "Virgin Annunciate" by Antonello da Messina which, I believe, is in the National Gallery. The original is a beauty. I don't see the point of the stripes, though!

Ben Trovato said...


Thanks for your comments: may blog about the Mysteries of LIght...

Have replaced the link with the picture to which I was referring (the pointless stipes).

I like it, for reasons not wholly clear to me.

Ben Trovato said...

PS - And you're right, the Virgin Annunciate by Messina is lovely. But according to Wikipedia, it's in Palermo. Is there another in London?

Patricius said...

Sorry. My mistake. It IS in Palermo. I have seen it reproduced so many times that I associated it with the National Gallery where there is the splendid "St Jerome in his Study".