Dives and Lazarus | Art for Proper 21

“If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” Luke 16:31

Dives and Lazarus
BASSANO, Leandro
(b. 1557, Venezia, d. 1622, Venezia)
Dives and Lazarus
c. 1595
Oil on canvas, 100 x 123 cm
Private collectionClick image for more information.

Commentary by Hovak Najarian

Dives and Lazarus, oil on canvas, c.1595, Leandro Bassano, 1557-1622

Dives (Dye-veez) – Latin for “rich” or “rich man” – did not deny himself anything that would bring pleasure. Leandro Bassano depicts him at dinner in fine clothes, surrounded by the people who serve him. He is having a sumptuous meal as he did everyday, and while he is dining, musicians entertain him and a prostitute sits at his side. There is not room on the table for all of the food that is served. In front of Dives are full plates of food piled on top of full plates, and more food is on its way.

In Christ’s parable (Luke 16:19-31), Lazarus is a starving man who is covered with sores. He went to the rich man’s house to lie down by the gate with the hope that something to eat would be given to him. In his painting, Bassano, using artistic license, places Lazarus inside the house and directly at the dinner scene with Dives. Lazarus, on the floor beside the rich man, is looking up and reaching out with an open hand but is being ignored; the table is overflowing with food but not even a morsel is tossed to him. Two playful spaniels have arrived at Lazarus’ feet and are licking his sores while at the same time a servant is threatening to beat him with a stick. Dives had no pity on those in need and lived his life in a heartless and self-indulgent manner. There was no empathy for those who were less fortunate.

Upon death, Lazarus was taken to heaven and the uncaring Dives was sent to hell. When Dives looked across a deep chasm that divided them he saw Lazarus in heaven in Abraham’s bosom. He called to Abraham and pleaded that Lazarus be sent with water on a finger to place on his tongue but his plea was denied. Abraham said, “Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here and you are in anguish in this flame.” (Luke 16:25)

The artist Leandro Bassano was the youngest son of a family of artists. His father, Jacopo da Ponte, studied in nearby Venice and then returned to the city of Bassano and, like many other artists, became known by the name of the city where he lived and worked. His four sons worked closely with him and it is believed some of the work attributed to the father, Jacopo, were the work of his sons. Leandro’s work is closest in style to his father’s paintings.

Note:

The story of “Dives and Lazarus” became an old English folk song and the Christmas carol, “Oh Sing a Song of Bethlehem” is sung to its melody. Anglican and Episcopal hymns also have been set to this melody and Ralph Vaughn Williams’ composition for harp and string orchestra – “Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus” – is based on this folk song as well.

Hovak Najarian © 2013

The Banquet of Esther and Ahasuerus, Art for B Proper 21

Esther 7:1 The king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. On the second day, as they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, “What is your petition, Queen Esther?

The Banquet of Esther and Ahasuerus
The Banquet of Esther and Ahasuerus
VICTORS, Jan
(b. 1619, Amsterdam, d. 1676, East Indies)
Dutch, Amsterdam, about 1650
1640s
Oil on canvas, 170 x 230 cm
Staatliche Museen, Kassel

Click image for more information.

Commentary by Hovak Najarian
(Previous post September 30, 2012)

The principal participants in Dutch artist Jan Victors’ The Banquet of Esther and Ahasuerus are:

Ahasuerus (seated on the right): King of a vast Persian Empire that extended from India to Ethiopia and included people of many nationalities.
Esther (standing): A beautiful young Jewish woman who was chosen to be Ahasuerus’ queen after his former queen, Vashti, defied him. Esther did not reveal she was Jewish until the dinner that is illustrated in Victors’ painting.
Haman (seated at the left): An official who was promoted by King Ahasuerus to be above all other princes. People were to bow to him.

Not in the painting but an important part of the story is:

Mordecai: The nephew of Esther’s father. When Esther’s parents both died, Mordecai adopted Esther and raised her as his own child.

When Esther was chosen to be queen, Mordecai remained protective of her and stayed near the gates of the palace to be aware of what was taking place. He would not bow or grovel at the sight of the egotistical and self-important Haman. This angered Haman to the extent that he devised a plan to hang Mordecai and to kill all other Jews in the kingdom as well. King Ahasuerus was not aware of Haman’s plan but Mordecai learned about it and sent word to Esther. In response, Esther set up her own plan. She organized a banquet at which Haman would be seated with Ahasuerus. The king loved Esther and offered earlier to grant anything she requested even half his kingdom.

In Victors’ painting, Esther has just revealed that she is Jewish and told Ahasuerus about Haman’s plan. She requested that her people be saved. The surprised king raised his scepter in anger. He arranged immediately to have Haman hanged along with his ten sons on the same gallows that was built to hang Mordecai. Further, a decree was given to allow Jews to kill anyone who would rise up against them. Today, the holiday Purim continues to commemorate the deliverance of the Jewish people from Haman’s plot.

Note

In lighting, clothing, and biblical subject matter, Jan Victors’ painting is influenced by Rembrandt’s style. Victors name is listed among Rembrandt’s pupils but the word “pupil” is often used loosely so this is not a certainty. Among Dutch artists of the seventeenth century, the imagery found in the Book of Esther was a favorite source of subject matter and a version of “Esther’s Banquet” also was painted by Rembrandt.

King Ahasuerus is believed to have been King Xerxes. Susa, where Ahasuerus’ palace was located, is in western Iran, about 150 miles east of the Tigris River. It is known today as the city of Shush (Shoosh).

The decision to include the Book of Esther in the Bible has been a source of debate. Martin Luther, who disagreed with the inclusion of several books, including Esther, took an extreme position and stated: “I am such an enemy to the book of Esther that I wish it did not exist…”

______________

© 2012 Hovak Najarian

Moses Drawing Water from the Rock / Ezekiel| Art for A Proper 21

Exodus 17:1-7
From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.”

Moses Drawing Water from the Rock
ASSERETO, Gioachino
Moses Drawing Water from the Rock
Oil on canvas, 254 x 300 cm
Museo del Prado, MadridClick image for more information.
Click for artist bio.

Ezekiel 18:1
The word of the LORD came to me:

Ezekiel
MICHELANGELO Buonarroti
Ezekiel
1510
Fresco, 355 x 380 cm
Cappella Sistina, Vatican
Click image for more information.
Click for artist bio.

B Proper 21 Art for September 30, 2012

VICTORS, Jan
(b. 1619, Amsterdam, d. 1676, East Indies)
Click to open Web Gallery of Art Artist Biography and to explore other works by this artist.

The Banquet of Esther and Ahasuerus
1640s
Oil on canvas, 170 x 230 cm
Staatliche Museen, Kassel
Click to open Web Gallery of Art commentary page. Click image for large view.

Related art commentary by Hovak Najarian.

The Banquet of Esther and Ahasuerus, c. 1640, Oil on Canvas, Jan Victors 1619-1676

Commentary by Hovak Najarian

Related post B Proper 21 Art for September 30, 2012

The principal participants in Dutch artist Jan Victors’ The Banquet of Esther and Ahasuerus are:

Ahasuerus (seated on the right): King of a vast Persian Empire that extended from India to Ethiopia and included people of many nationalities.
Esther (standing): A beautiful young Jewish woman who was chosen to be Ahasuerus’ queen after his former queen, Vashti, defied him. Esther did not reveal she was Jewish until the dinner that is illustrated in Victors’ painting.
Haman (seated at the left): An official who was promoted by King Ahasuerus to be above all other princes. People were to bow to him.

Not in the painting but an important part of the story is:

Mordecai: The nephew of Esther’s father. When Esther’s parents both died, Mordecai adopted Esther and raised her as his own child.

When Esther was chosen to be queen, Mordecai remained protective of her and stayed near the gates of the palace to be aware of what was taking place. He would not bow or grovel at the sight of the egotistical and self-important Haman. This angered Haman to the extent that he devised a plan to hang Mordecai and to kill all other Jews in the kingdom as well. King Ahasuerus was not aware of Haman’s plan but Mordecai learned about it and sent word to Esther. In response, Esther set up her own plan. She organized a banquet at which Haman would be seated with Ahasuerus. The king loved Esther and offered earlier to grant anything she requested even half his kingdom.

In Victors’ painting, Esther has just revealed that she is Jewish and told Ahasuerus about Haman’s plan. She requested that her people be saved. The surprised king raised his scepter in anger. He arranged immediately to have Haman hanged along with his ten sons on the same gallows that was built to hang Mordecai. Further, a decree was given to allow Jews to kill anyone who would rise up against them. Today, the holiday Purim continues to commemorate the deliverance of the Jewish people from Haman’s plot.

Note

In lighting, clothing, and biblical subject matter, Jan Victors’ painting is influenced by Rembrandt’s style. Victors name is listed among Rembrandt’s pupils but the word “pupil” is often used loosely so this is not a certainty. Among Dutch artists of the seventeenth century, the imagery found in the Book of Esther was a favorite source of subject matter and a version of “Esther’s Banquet” also was painted by Rembrandt.

King Ahasuerus is believed to have been King Xerxes. Susa, where Ahasuerus’ palace was located, is in western Iran, about 150 miles east of the Tigris River. It is known today as the city of Shush (Shoosh).

The decision to include the Book of Esther in the Bible has been a source of debate. Martin Luther, who disagreed with the inclusion of several books, including Esther, took an extreme position and stated: “I am such an enemy to the book of Esther that I wish it did not exist…”

______________

© 2012 Hovak Najarian

B Proper 20 Art for September 23, 2012

REMBRANDT Harmenszoon van Rijn
(b. 1606, Leiden, d. 1669, Amsterdam)
Click to open Web Gallery of Art Artist Biography and to explore other works by this artist.

The Little Children Being Brought to Jesus (“The 100 Guilder Print”)
1647-49
Etching and drypoint, 1st state, 278 x 388 mm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Click to open Web Gallery of Art commentary page. Click image for large view.

Related art commentary by Hovak Najarian.

Little Children Being Brought to Jesus (The Hundred Guilder Print), c. 1647-1649, Etching, Rembrandt Harmenzoon van Rijn, 1606 -1669

Commentary by Hovak Najarian

Related post B Proper 20 Art for September 23, 2012

In the Hundred Guilder Print, Rembrandt has combined several subjects taken from the nineteenth chapter of Mathew into a composite image. As a result it is known by several titles. Among them are: Little Children Being Brought to Jesus, Christ Healing the Sick, and Christ Preaching. In Rembrandt’s lifetime it was known famously as the “Hundred Guilder Print” and it continues to be known by that title today. As a masterpiece, it was first sold for a hundred guilder; a very high price at the time.

Mathew’s account tells of Jesus departing Galilee and going to Judea where multitudes followed him; many were healed. While he was there, Pharisees came and he answered their questions. When mothers brought their children to him to be blessed, the disciples rebuked them but Jesus said: “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” A young rich man asked Jesus what he must do to enter heaven and was told to first give all of his possessions to the poor and then, “follow me.” Jesus noted it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. References to all of these subjects were combined in Rembrandt’s print.

In the center of this etching, Jesus is standing as he speaks to the crowd that surrounds him. At the far upper left a group of Pharisees are debating among themselves and to the right, the old and sick are trying to get closer to Jesus; one of them was brought in on a wheelbarrow. Others are coming in from the right as Peter (behind the pleading woman whose shadow is cast on Jesus’ robe) stretches out his arm to indicate there are too many people in the crowded space already. The rich man has returned to his camel (in the doorway); he is leaving because he cannot give up his possessions. In the central area are a variety of people of humble origins and differing needs. A woman with a child in her arms approaches Jesus (her foot is on the raised area on which Jesus is standing). Another woman (lower left) is holding her child’s hand as he reaches toward Jesus. The child’s dog is nearby. In this etching, Rembrandt demonstrates his remarkable ability to integrate and balance diverse subjects and to unify them in a single composition; the print is a superb example of his genius.

Note

Etching: An etching is made from a copper or zinc plate that has been covered with liquid asphaltum (an acid resistant ground). The artist draws an image on the plate with a scriber but scratches only through the asphaltum surface to expose the plate. The prepared plate is placed in an acid solution that eats into it and creates fine shallow grooves in the areas that have been exposed. The asphaltum then is removed, ink is pressed into the grooves, and the surface of the plate is wiped clean. A slightly moistened paper is placed over it and it is run through a press. The pressure pushes the paper against the ink and, as the paper is pulled away from the plate, it lifts the ink out of the grooves and reveals the image (in reverse).

Intaglio (Italian, from intagliare – to engrave): This term is used for a family of prints in which the ink is held in grooves beneath the surface of a plate. In an etching, acid is used to create the grooves. When making an engraving, the artist removes the metal directly with a burin. When making a drypoint, the grooves are created by scratching with pressure into the surface of a plate (this makes a groove but leaves a burr). Etchings, engravings, and drypoints are all intaglios. Although the Hundred Guilder Print is primarily an etching, it was easier for Rembrandt to use drypoint and engraving techniques when touching up and refining some areas of the plate after it was etched.

______________

© 2012 Hovak Najarian