The Good Samaritan | Art for Proper 10C

The Good Samaritan (after Delacroix)
GOGH, Vincent van
(b. 1853, Groot Zundert, d. 1890, Auvers-sur-Oise)
The Good Samaritan (after Delacroix)
May 1890, Saint-Rémy
Oil on canvas, 73 x 60 cm
Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo
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Commentary by Hovak Najarian

The Good Samaritan (after Delacroix), Oil on Canvas, 1890, Vincent van Gogh, 1853-1890

In response to a lawyer’s question, “And who is my neighbor?” Christ told a parable about a man who was traveling and beset by robbers. He was left lying by the roadside, stripped, beaten, and half dead. A priest saw him and passed by on the other side. A Levite did the same. A Samaritan, however, stopped and gave him aid. He lifted him onto his “beast” and took him to an inn and cared for him. The following day the Samaritan paid the innkeeper and asked him to continue caring for the man; saying if more money was needed he would pay when he returned. Christ asked rhetorically which of these three proved to be a neighbor to the man, and answered, “The one who showed mercy…” He then said, “Go and do likewise.” This parable was of interest particularly to artists who favored biblical stories of human warmth and compassion; many notable artists, including Rembrandt, painted “The Good Samaritan.” In the early nineteenth century, Eugene Delacroix (del a crwah) the leader of the French Romanticists also painted it and a reproduction of it was published. Shown here is Vincent van Gogh’s interpretation of Delacroix’s painting based on a black and white lithograph copy.

In May of 1890, van Gogh was still a patient at the hospital at Saint-Remy. In warmer weather he would go into the fields to paint but he had been mostly indoors throughout the winter months. Books were comforting to him; in them he could study the paintings of the artists he admired. While remaining indoors, he began using reproductions as source material for his own paintings and he had empathy particularly with the subject of Delacroix’s “The Good Samaritan.” Van Gogh had several bouts of illness during the winter months and he himself was in need of compassion. The cause of his illness has not been determined with certainty even today.

When painting the “The Good Samaritan” van Gogh was working from a copy made by Jules Laurens. The lithograph produced a reversed image of the painting and because van Gogh’s composition followed the lithograph, it too was in reverse. The interpretations of the paintings made by van Gogh at this time were not intended to be copies; instead, he painted subjects in the colors he believed would be appropriate. The reproductions in books were used as source material and were modified in much the same way a musician changes the orchestration or makes variations on another composer’s theme.

A few weeks after painting, “The Good Samaritan,” van Gogh boarded a train to Paris. After visiting his brother and his wife, and his recently born nephew, he settled in nearby Auvers-sur-Oise and was under the care of Dr. Gachet. The auditory and hallucinatory attacks from his illness, however, became more frequent and van Gogh determined it would be for the good of all if he ended his life. He shot himself in the chest and died. His brother, Theo, went into a physical and emotional decline and died six months later.

Hovak Najarian © 2013

Eight Van Gogh Sowers. | Art for A Proper 10

7/13
Matthew 13:1-3 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow.

Scroll down for Eight Van Gogh Sowers.

The Sower
The Sower (after Millet)
Oil on canvas
80.8 x 66.0 cm.
Saint-Rémy: Late October, 1889
F 690, JH 1837
Collection Niarchos
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The Sower
The Sower (after Millet)
Oil on canvas
64.0 x 55.0 cm.
Saint-Rémy: October-November, 1889
F 689, JH 1836
Otterlo: Kröller-Müller Museum
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The Sower
The Sower (study)
Oil on canvas
19.0 x 27.5 cm.
The Hague: August, 1883
F 11, JH 392
Location unknown
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The Sower
The Sower
Oil on canvas
64.0 x 80.5 cm.
Arles: June, 1888
F 422, JH 1470
Otterlo: Kröller-Müller Museum
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The Sower
The Sower
Oil on canvas
32.0 x 40.0 cm.
Arles: November, 1888
F 451, JH 1629
Amsterdam: Van Gogh Museum
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The Sower
The Sower
Oil on burlap on canvas
73.5 x 93.0 cm.
Arles: November, 1888
F 450, JH 1627
Zurich: Foundation E.G. Bührle
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The Sower
The Sower
Oil on canvas
72.0 x 91.5 cm.
Arles: October, 1888
F 494, JH 1617
Winterthur: Villa Flora
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The Sower
The Sower
Outskirts of Arles in the Background
Oil on canvas
33.6 x 40.4 cm.
Arles: September, 1888
F 575a, JH 1596
Los Angeles: The Armand Hammer Museum of Art
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Herod and Salome | Art for B Proper 10

Mark 6:25 At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: “I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”

Herod and Salome
ROMANESQUE SCULPTOR, French
(active c. 1120 in Toulouse)
Herod and Salome
c. 1120
Stone
Musée des Augustins, Toulouse

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Commentary by Hovak Najarian
(Previous post July 15, 2012)

The word capital is known to us as both a monetary term and as the location of a seat of government. Unless a person is familiar with architecture, the head of a column may not come to mind. Stone columns were at first replacements for tree trunks but as architectural forms developed, psychological as well as physical factors came into play. At the bottom of a column a supporting base gives it the appearance of resting on the floor, not growing out of it. The “capital,” an embellishment at the top of a column, gives it a sense of completeness. Capitals of Egyptian columns were often in the form of lotus blossoms. Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian are names given to capitals used by the Greeks; these are familiar to us today because we continue to see them in classical revival architecture. In Romanesque church architecture, capitals of basket weave and intertwining vines were often carved but also they depicted biblical events. In Herod and Salome we see a detail from a capital that was once in the cloister of Saint Etienne, Toulouse, France. [The cloister was destroyed completely and this relief is now in a museum in Toulouse.]

In the familiar biblical story, Herod was attracted to his brother’s wife, Herodias. She decided to divorce her husband and marry Herod. John the Baptist was quite vocal in stating this marriage was unlawful; this angered Herodias so she asked Herod to imprison him. When Herodias’ daughter danced at Herod’s birthday banquet, Herod was pleased immensely and promised her anything she would ask. Her mother, who despised John for criticizing her marriage, told her to ask for the head of John the Baptist. Herod felt he could not go back on his word and granted the wish.

This relief of Herod and Salome is on a capital that was placed on double columns next to a wall. On the front (not shown) is a scene of a table set with food and people are gathered there to celebrate Herod’s birthday. Around the corner on the left side (pictured here) we see Herod seated with his step-daughter standing next to him; her feet are crossed at the ankles in a dance position. Herod’s left hand is placed gently under her chin in a tender moment as he looks at her in admiration. In this relief, she is child-like and unlike the “Salome” depicted usually as a seductive symbol of wickedness. This event is given in narrative form and is completed on the opposite side. On the right side of the capital, (around the corner from the banquet scene), John the Baptist is leaning over being beheaded.

Note

In the Gospel of St. Mark the name of Herodias’ daughter’s is not given. Historian Flavius Josephus, in his Antiquities of the Jews, supplied us with the name “Salome.” The “Dance of the Seven Veils,” said to have been performed by her, also is not mentioned. This dance is likely the result of transferring and embellishing the story of Assyrian and Babylonian fertility goddess Ishtar’s visit to the underworld. On her way she shed a piece of clothing as she passed through each of seven gates. Because of its emotional content, the story of Herod and Salome often is told with vivid imagination and has been exploited in all of the arts.

______________

© 2012 Hovak Najarian

Herod and Salome (detail from The Feast of Herod capital) c.1120, Limestone, Gilabertus de Toulouse (12th century)

Commentary by Hovak Najarian

Related post B Proper 10, Art for July 15, 2012

The word capital is known to us as both a monetary term and as the location of a seat of government. Unless a person is familiar with architecture, the head of a column may not come to mind. Stone columns were at first replacements for tree trunks but as architectural forms developed, psychological as well as physical factors came into play. At the bottom of a column a supporting base gives it the appearance of resting on the floor, not growing out of it. The “capital,” an embellishment at the top of a column, gives it a sense of completeness. Capitals of Egyptian columns were often in the form of lotus blossoms. Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian are names given to capitals used by the Greeks; these are familiar to us today because we continue to see them in classical revival architecture. In Romanesque church architecture, capitals of basket weave and intertwining vines were often carved but also they depicted biblical events. In Herod and Salome we see a detail from a capital that was once in the cloister of Saint Etienne, Toulouse, France. [The cloister was destroyed completely and this relief is now in a museum in Toulouse.]

In the familiar biblical story, Herod was attracted to his brother’s wife, Herodias. She decided to divorce her husband and marry Herod. John the Baptist was quite vocal in stating this marriage was unlawful; this angered Herodias so she asked Herod to imprison him. When Herodias’ daughter danced at Herod’s birthday banquet, Herod was pleased immensely and promised her anything she would ask. Her mother, who despised John for criticizing her marriage, told her to ask for the head of John the Baptist. Herod felt he could not go back on his word and granted the wish.

This relief of Herod and Salome is on a capital that was placed on double columns next to a wall. On the front (not shown) is a scene of a table set with food and people are gathered there to celebrate Herod’s birthday. Around the corner on the left side (pictured here) we see Herod seated with his step-daughter standing next to him; her feet are crossed at the ankles in a dance position. Herod’s left hand is placed gently under her chin in a tender moment as he looks at her in admiration. In this relief, she is child-like and unlike the “Salome” depicted usually as a seductive symbol of wickedness. This event is given in narrative form and is completed on the opposite side. On the right side of the capital, (around the corner from the banquet scene), John the Baptist is leaning over being beheaded.

Note

In the Gospel of St. Mark the name of Herodias’ daughter’s is not given. Historian Flavius Josephus, in his Antiquities of the Jews, supplied us with the name “Salome.” The “Dance of the Seven Veils,” said to have been performed by her, also is not mentioned. This dance is likely the result of transferring and embellishing the story of Assyrian and Babylonian fertility goddess Ishtar’s visit to the underworld. On her way she shed a piece of clothing as she passed through each of seven gates. Because of its emotional content, the story of Herod and Salome often is told with vivid imagination and has been exploited in all of the arts.

______________

© 2012 Hovak Najarian