The Fallen Angel | Art for Proper 9C

The Fallen Angel
Gustave Doré 1832 – 1883
The Fallen Angel
engraving — 1866
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Commentary by Hovak Najarian

The Fallen Angel, Wood Engraving, 1866, Gustave Doré, 1832-1883

During the fifteenth century as painters increased their skills, it was noted their activity entailed more than physical labor. Their work was not the same as that of artisans whose activity often required repetitive handwork. Scholars became aware that critical thinking was taking place as a painting or sculpture was being created; intellectual and emotional content was evident in the work. This assessment led to the belief that painting and sculpture were of a higher order than other human-made forms (e.g. chairs, tables, dinnerware, and pottery). To this perceived higher order the term “art” was given and specialized image makers became known as “artists.” Thus “art” came into being and a hierarchy was established. Painting, sculpture and architecture were regarded as “fine arts” and others were regarded as “minor arts” or even “miscellaneous arts.” Prints such as woodcuts, engravings, and etchings ranked higher than the handcrafts but they were still part of the minor arts despite the work of masters such as Albrecht Durer and Rembrandt.

Photography was invented during the nineteenth century but the halftone process for printing photo images (as in reproductions of black and white photographs in newspapers and books) was not being used until after the 1880s. The medium of choice for illustrations during the nineteenth century was engraving and very skilled artists devoted time to it. Yet even today, the art of book illustration is not usually an area of study among art historians. Gustave Doré is praised for his very original work and exceptional engraving skills, but he did not open the way to new directions in painting as did his contemporaries, the Impressionists. Instead, his work is associated with nineteenth century romanticism which favored drama and exoticism in art. Doré’s illustrations for John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” provided an opportunity to illustrate highly dramatic moments and at the end of Book III, an illustration is shown of Satan’s fall. Satan is alone in a freefall from heaven. Rays of heavenly light are breaking through the darkness and stars are in their places as Satan is entering the outer atmosphere of the earth which is shrouded partially by clouds.

The Bible does not say angels have wings but image makers of the Middle Ages reasoned they possessed some means of locomotion. Wings sounded logical and they often depicted them to be spectacular and sometimes in rainbow colors. Satan also has been given wings but they are not the usual graceful and colorful wings seen on angels. Doré has depicted Satan with primitive bat-like wings; the type associated with Gothic horror novels. The falling figure of Satan attracts our attention immediately because of its context. It is difficult to move your eyes away from its active angular shape which contrasts strikingly with the passive softness of the clouds; even the earth seems soft. Satan’s intense darkness against the light grey sky ensures that this “fallen angel” remains the focal point of our attention. In Doré’s engraving there is a sense that something sinister is approaching the earth.

Hovak Najarian © 2013

The Ecstasy of St. Paul | Art for B Proper 9

2 Corinthians 12:2 I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven– whether in the body or out of the body I do not know;

The Ecstasy of St Paul
POUSSIN, Nicolas
(b. 1594, Les Andelys, d. 1665, Roma)
The Ecstasy of St Paul
1649-50
Oil on canvas, 148 x 120 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

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Commentary by Hovak Najarian
(Previous post July 4, 2012)

At the end of the fifteenth century, Renaissance artists had opened the way for an expansion of ideas but the direction art would take was not clear until the latter part of the century that followed. Whereas Renaissance artists retained a connection to classicism, the art that began in the late sixteenth century and lasted until mid-eighteenth century – referred to collectively as “Baroque” – moved beyond classicism into an area of drama and fantasy. During this time the boundaries of art were pushed and the classical images of the Renaissance gave way to exuberant and ornate forms. Often painting, architecture and sculpture were coordinated for dramatic effects that tended to overwhelm the senses. It was a time when technical difficulties did not stand in the way of artists. Light and shadow, perspective, foreshortening, and virtually all other problems dealing with the creation of an illusion of three dimensions on a surface had been overcome. Artists could give free reign to their ideas and imagination.

In 1624, Nicolas Poussin, left Paris to settle in Rome and through his work became the most renowned French artist of the seventeenth century. In subject matter, he became attracted to mythological as well as real life heroes of ancient Rome and although it was a time when art tended to be full of unbridled activity, his work tended to be restrained; his working methods were deliberate. When asked about his well thought out compositions, he said, “I am forced by my nature towards the orderly.” During the mid-1630s, in addition to painting subjects from mythology and history, Poussin turned his attention to subjects from the Bible.

In The Ecstasy of St. Paul, Poussin depicts Paul being escorted by three angels as he starts his journey heavenward. The lead angel is pointing the way. In organizing this composition, Poussin was faced with a problem of how to deal with so many arms, legs, and angel’s wings. He resolved the problem by having some of the limbs out of sight and connecting others by touch. Paul, in the center of what seems to be an entangled scene, is in a laid-back position with arms raised. The angel on the left has a hand under the knee of his right leg. The angel on the right, whose face is in shadow, has a hand on the ankle of Paul’s left leg. The uppermost angel is touching his left hand lightly as if to guide him upward but no real lifting is being done. The angels are there primarily to accompany Paul while a sweeping landscape and billowing clouds serve as a backdrop. Below them are the symbols associated with Paul; a book that represents the word of God and a sword. The sword indicates he was at one time a persecutor of the Church and then, after his conversion, took up the Sword of the Spirit; the bound book refers to his epistles.

Note

“Baroque” first came into use as a somewhat derisive term. It was used in France to mean something unusual, bizarre, or even poorly made, but the source of the word is unclear. It may have come from the Spanish word berrucco for an irregular (uncultured) pearl or from the Portuguese barroco for hilly or uneven ground. The root of these words may be from the Latin verruca meaning a slight flaw. In view of the turning, undulating, and convoluted shapes found in a great deal of Baroque art, any of these suggested origins are plausible.

______________

© 2012 Hovak Najarian

Eliezer and Rebecca (Track 1) Entry Into Jerusalem ( Track 2 )| Art for A Proper 9

RCL Track 1
Genesis 24:43-44 I am standing here by the spring of water; let the young woman who comes out to draw, to whom I shall say, “Please give me a little water from your jar to drink,” and who will say to me, “Drink, and I will draw for your camels also” –let her be the woman whom the LORD has appointed for my master’s son.’

Eliezer and Rebecca
BRAY, Salomon de
Eliezer and Rebecca
1660
Oil on canvas, 90 x 156 cm and three sketches
Musée de la Chartreuse, Douai
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Click here for artist biography.
Eliezer and Rebecca
BRAY, Salomon de
Eliezer and Rebecca
1659
Pen in brown, brush, grey wash, 86 x 145 mm
Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich
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Click here for artist biography.
Eliezer and Rebecca
BRAY, Salomon de
Eliezer and Rebecca
1659
Pen in brown, brush, grey wash, 89 x 145 mm
Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt
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Click here for artist biography.
Eliezer and Rebecca
BRAY, Salomon de
Eliezer and Rebecca
1660
Pen in brown, brush, grey wash, 182 x 312 mm
Kunsthalle, Hamburg
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Click here for artist biography.

RCL Track 2
Zechariah 9:10
Lo, your king comes to you;
triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey

Entry Into Jerusalem
Manuscript illumination
ca.1030-1040
Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment
232 mm (9.13 in). Width: 160 mm (6.3 in).
Getty Center, Los Angeles
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The Ecstasy of St. Paul, 1649-50, Oil on Canvas, Nicolas Poussin (1594- 1665)

Commentary by Hovak Najarian

Related post B Proper 9, Art for July 8, 2012

Hovak Najarian

At the end of the fifteenth century, Renaissance artists had opened the way for an expansion of ideas but the direction art would take was not clear until the latter part of the century that followed. Whereas Renaissance artists retained a connection to classicism, the art that began in the late sixteenth century and lasted until mid-eighteenth century – referred to collectively as “Baroque” – moved beyond classicism into an area of drama and fantasy. During this time the boundaries of art were pushed and the classical images of the Renaissance gave way to exuberant and ornate forms. Often painting, architecture and sculpture were coordinated for dramatic effects that tended to overwhelm the senses. It was a time when technical difficulties did not stand in the way of artists. Light and shadow, perspective, foreshortening, and virtually all other problems dealing with the creation of an illusion of three dimensions on a surface had been overcome. Artists could give free reign to their ideas and imagination.

In 1624, Nicolas Poussin, left Paris to settle in Rome and through his work became the most renowned French artist of the seventeenth century. In subject matter, he became attracted to mythological as well as real life heroes of ancient Rome and although it was a time when art tended to be full of unbridled activity, his work tended to be restrained; his working methods were deliberate. When asked about his well thought out compositions, he said, “I am forced by my nature towards the orderly.” During the mid-1630s, in addition to painting subjects from mythology and history, Poussin turned his attention to subjects from the Bible.

In The Ecstasy of St. Paul, Poussin depicts Paul being escorted by three angels as he starts his journey heavenward. The lead angel is pointing the way. In organizing this composition, Poussin was faced with a problem of how to deal with so many arms, legs, and angel’s wings. He resolved the problem by having some of the limbs out of sight and connecting others by touch. Paul, in the center of what seems to be an entangled scene, is in a laid-back position with arms raised. The angel on the left has a hand under the knee of his right leg. The angel on the right, whose face is in shadow, has a hand on the ankle of Paul’s left leg. The uppermost angel is touching his left hand lightly as if to guide him upward but no real lifting is being done. The angels are there primarily to accompany Paul while a sweeping landscape and billowing clouds serve as a backdrop. Below them are the symbols associated with Paul; a book that represents the word of God and a sword. The sword indicates he was at one time a persecutor of the Church and then, after his conversion, took up the Sword of the Spirit; the bound book refers to his epistles.

Note

“Baroque” first came into use as a somewhat derisive term. It was used in France to mean something unusual, bizarre, or even poorly made, but the source of the word is unclear. It may have come from the Spanish word berrucco for an irregular (uncultured) pearl or from the Portuguese barroco for hilly or uneven ground. The root of these words may be from the Latin verruca meaning a slight flaw. In view of the turning, undulating, and convoluted shapes found in a great deal of Baroque art, any of these suggested origins are plausible.

______________

© 2012 Hovak Najarian