The Pentecost | Art for Pentecost C

The Pentecost
The Pentecost
1596-1600
Oil on canvas, 275 x 127 cm
Museo del Prado, MadridEl Greco,(b. 1541, Candia, d. 1614, Toledo)
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Commentary by Hovak Najarian
The Pentecost, Oil on Canvas, c.1600, El Greco, 1541-1614

Domenikos Theotokopoulos, a Greek native of Crete, first studied Byzantine art with the intention of becoming an icon painter. Crete was a Venetian colony at that time and at about age twenty Domenikos went to Venice to study the paintings of masters such as Titian. Following his stay in Venice, he worked and taught in Rome and then moved to Spain where he became known simply as El Greco (The Greek). Spain became his home for the remainder of his life and by the time “The Pentecost” was painted for an Augustinian seminary in Madrid, his style was dramatically different from his earlier work. In this late style, El Greco’s paintings have elements of expressionism and often are described as having a sense of mystery.

In Acts of the Apostles an account is given of the day of Pentecost when the twelve apostles, as well as Mary and people of many nationalities were gathered in one place. All at once the sound of a mighty rushing wind came from heaven and filled the room: “And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:2-4)

El Greco’s “Pentecost,” (now in the Prado Museum, Madrid) was painted to be an altarpiece. Its height above floor level would place the seminarians at the lower part of the painting and they would see the subject matter increase in complexity as their gaze moved upward toward Mary, the apostles, and the plumes of fire. A dove at the top of the painting represents the Holy Spirit; its wings are spread and the light that surrounds it is radiating downward over the gathering. The two men in the foreground at the bottom of a short flight of stairs have lifted their arms and are leaning back slightly in order to look at the dove. Mary (dressed in red and blue) is seated at the center of the painting with apostles gathered around her; two other women are included in the painting. The woman at Mary’s left shoulder is thought to be Mary Magdalene and the fourth person from the left side may be Martha. [Acts states that when the apostles prayed, they did so with “…women and Mary.”] El Greco also included himself in this painting. His face is second from the right; he is the man with a white beard who seems to be in deep thought and is not looking up toward the dove.
Although the term, “Expressionism,” did not come into use until the twentieth century, it is an apt term for El Greco’s late paintings. Expressionism is the result of an artist’s effort to project emotional intensity and inner feelings into a work. The figures in “The Pentecost” are not posing for a formal group portrait. They are an animated informal mix of people who in body language and facial expression are reacting individually, and yet they are part of the collective experience. They are responding with awe and excited emotional involvement as they take part in this miraculous event.

Hovak Najarian © 2013

Bastiani’s Pentecost| Art for B Pentecost

John 15:26 Jesus said to his disciples, “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf.

Bastiani’s Pentecost
BASTIANI, Lazzaro
(b. ca. 1430, Venezia, d. ca. 1512, Venezia)
Pentecost
1484-90
Tapestry in wool, silk and silver thread
Santa Maria della Salute, Venice

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Commentary by Hovak Najarian

Post: from May 27,2012

The importance attributed to artists by scholars can be determined usually by how many of their works are projected onto a screen in an art history class. Lazzaro Bastiani’s work is seldom shown or discussed and often he is left out entirely from textbooks. A reason for this is that his contemporaries were the major artists of his time; the fame of Renaissance artists such as Botticelli, Raphael, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Durer continue to overshadow Bastiani to this day. Bastiani did not work for the Medici in Florence or the pope in Rome; even in Venice where he lived, the artists of the Bellini family were more widely known. Yet, like a good journeyman, he was employed steadily and produced respectable work.

Before the early Renaissance, there was no separation of the arts but in the fifteenth century, painting came to be regarded as being of a higher order. Craft workers were erroneously thought to be occupied only with repetitious handwork whereas the arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture were recognized as having intellectual content. Although the weaving process was associated with the crafts, tapestries in effect were akin to painting and were admired. Artists such as Bastiani, were commissioned to make cartoons (full scale preparatory designs) that were reproduced in woven form. The creator of a cartoon, however, did not participate in the weaving process; a tapestry was made usually by a guild or a family of weavers

In Bastiani’s Pentecost, the fine wool, silk and silver threads make up a richness of texture that differs from the surface of an oil painting. The materials are different yet, in style, the Pentecost is in keeping with fifteenth century Venetian painting. Because contacts through trade had been going on with the Near East for many centuries, the rebirth of classicism during the Renaissance was not as strong in Venice as it was in Florence and Rome. The influence of Greek sculpture in works such as The Birth of Venus by Florentine artist Sandro Botticelli gives his painting a neat, uncluttered effect. Bastiani on the other hand, seems to be determined to fill all spaces with ornate details. In the tapestry, symbols of rebirth, resurrection, immortality, and purity are found in the form of such fauna as a hare, peacock, and stag; in flowers we are reminded of the transient nature of life and eternal life is symbolized by a palm tree. Unlike the setting described in the Book of Acts (2:1-21), Bastiani does not place the apostles in a room but instead he presents the scene as if it were an outdoor stage with Mary enthroned in the center. He places the apostles in two groups but does not place a tongue of fire resting above them individually as described by Luke. Bastiani gives us simply an overall reddish glow above their heads.

The placement of Mary on a throne (an image derived from Byzantine sources) in the center of the tapestry has made her the focus of attention. She is noted in the Book of Acts (1:14) as being in the upper room prior to Pentecost and she was there apparently during the event but Luke does not single her out as being a central figure. Instead, Bastiani’s placement of Mary seems to be a result of the extraordinary growth in the veneration of Mary that started in the early thirteenth century and continued through the Renaissance.

Like information on Bastiani himself, the original setting for the Pentecost tapestry is obscure. At the present time it is on the altar of Santa Maria della Salute (Basilica of St. Mary of Health) but the church had not been built at the time the tapestry was woven.

Note:

When preparing to weave a tapestry, strong parallel threads are stretched close to each other and tied onto a loom. These are the warp threads through which the weft – the threads that cross over and under them – are passed. If warp and weft are equal in size, color, and texture the fabric will be uniform throughout. When making a tapestry, however, a wide range of colors are used for the weft as the weavers follow an image that was designed by a painter. The result is like a painting except instead of pigments being placed on a woven piece of cloth (a canvas), the pigments are in the threads themselves and are an integral part of the fabric.

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Commentary 2012 Hovak Najarian

Pentecost | Art for A Pentecost

Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.

Pentecost
DORFFMEISTER, István
Pentecost
1782
Oil on canvas, 55 x 33 cm
Magyar Nemzeti Galéria, Budapest
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Pentecost
MILDORFER, Joseph Ignaz
(b. 1719, Innsbruck, d. 1775, Wien)
Pentecost
1750s
Oil on canvas, 55 x 33 cm
Magyar Nemzeti Galéria, Budapest
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Same work – two guys- can anyone sort them out????

Pentecost in 2 minutes

Yesterday (5/19/13) we shared this video in the Sunday Morning Forum. For those of you unable to join us, please enjoy this 2 minute look at Pentecost offered by the folks at Busted Halo.

Have other questions? Please use our Comment section to continue the conversation.

Hail Thee, Festival Day

In many churches, including Episcopal churches, the Day of Pentecost is a day to sing “Hail Thee, Festival Day” with joy and thanksgiving. The hymn is often used on Easter, the Feast of the Ascension, and Pentecost. Here is a version shared on Easter (but sure to get you into the joy of Pentecost, listen for the verse beginning “Spirit of life and of power”):

Want to know more about the hymn? Check out Hymnary.org for this particular version of the hymn.

Do you have a favorite “Pentecost Hymn”? Let us know in the Comment section.

Wind Chimes: 18 Jan 2013 — Day 1

A Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Readings for Day One — Walking in conversation

Genesis 11:1-9 | The story of Babel and legacy of our diversity
Psalm 34:11-18 | “Come … listen.” God’s invitation to conversation
Acts 2:1-12 | The outpouring of the Spirit, the gift of understanding
Luke 24:13-25 | Conversations with the Risen Jesus on the road

Quote . . .To walk humbly with God means to walk as people speaking with one another and with the Lord, always attentive to what we hear. And so we begin our celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity by reflecting on scripture passages which speak of the essential practice of conversation. 2013-WPCU-Readings-and-Prayers

Prayer on Day One

2013 Week of Prayer (Cover)Jesus Christ, we proclaim with joy our common identity in you, and we thank you for inviting us into a dialogue of love with you. Open our hearts to share more perfectly in your prayer to the Father that we may be one, so that as we journey together we may draw closer to each other. Give us the courage to bear witness to the truth together, and may our conversations embrace those who perpetuate disunity. Send your Spirit to empower us to challenge situations where dignity and compassion are lacking in our societies, nations, and the world. God of life, lead us to justice and peace. Amen

divider lineImage: School of Theology & Ministry, Seattle University

The endless gift of Pentecost

Continuing in the breath, wind, and fire of Pentecost here is the meditation of one of my favorite bishops. Brian Prior is the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota. You’ll want to read the whole post, of course, but here is how it starts:

It is illusive…but ever present.

Many expect to experience it only  as a lighting bolt while missing the still small voice. There are those who believe it is always manifested in a radical, almost “other- worldly” way, while the ‘everyday-ness’ goes unnoticed. Others have no expectations while the truly miraculous goes unacknowledged.  Some assume that it is brought forth by their own volition all the while it is unquestionably a gift.

Yet once you have had a moment, an experience, an awareness or an openness to its movement in your life…

Keep reading on the Bishop’s Blog.