Tuesday, August 1, 2017

European Religious Imagery 1630-1650

Alonso Cano
Death of St Joseph
ca. 1646
oil on canvas
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Francisco de Zurbarán
St Elizabeth of Thuringia
ca. 1635-40
oil on canvas
Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao

attributed to Antonio de Bellis
Sacrifice of Noah
ca. 1640-55
oil on canvas
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston


Did you not hear the mournful cries
Of a new-slain sacrifice?
Would you know what felt the smart?
'Twas a broken, bleeding heart.
Burning, pure, celestial love
Was the high priest, and borne above
The sharp law that steers our life
Was the sacrificing knife.
The altar, built of precious stones,
Secret sighs, true tears, deep groans,
Grievous groans, fetched far and low,
Such as none but the saints know;
The fire, pure zeal, swift of wing,
Like that which ate up Israel's king.
Hail, holy flame! My heart refine;
Purge it from dross; make it divine;
Bathe it in that high-languaged blood
Which out-speaks Abel's; in that flood
Refine, reform it; fix it far
Above my sins, a shining star.
Take from it folly, give it fear:
Kill it here, and crown it there.

– by Robert Davenport, composed ca. 1640, but unpublished until 1921 when first printed by George Thorn-Drury in A Little Ark: containing sundry pieces of seventeenth-century verse (London: P.J. and A.E. Dobell)

Philippe de Champaigne
ca. 1645
oil on canvas
Wallace Collection, London

Salomon de Bray
Samson with the Jawbone of an Ass
oil on canvas
Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Salomon de Bray
David with his Sword
oil on canvas
Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Guido Cagnacci
David with the Head of Goliath
ca. 1645-50
oil on canvas
Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Peter Paul Rubens
Triptych of St Ildefonso
oil on panel
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna 


My God, where is that ancient heat towards thee,
    Wherewith whole shoals of martyrs once did burn,
    Besides their other flames? Doth poetry
Wear Venus' livery? only serve her turn?
Why are not sonnets made of thee? and lays
    Upon thine altar burnt? Cannot thy love
    Heighten a spirit to sound out thy praise
As well as any she? Cannot thy dove
Outstrip their Cupid easily in flight?
    Or, since thy ways are deep, and still the same,
    Will not a verse run smooth that bears thy name?
Why doth that fire which by thy power and might
    Each breast does feel no braver fuel choose
    Than that which one day worms may chance refuse?

– George Herbert (1593-1633)

Pedro Orrente
Christ entering Jerusalem
oil on canvas
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Michel Dorigny
Hagar and the Angel
oil on canvas
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Jusepe de Ribera
St Matthew
oil on canvas
Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas

Juan Bautista Maíno
Portrait of Friar Alonso de Sant Tomàs
oil on canvas
Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona

Simon Vouet
oil on canvas
Musée d'art moderne André Malraux, Le Havre

Pieter Neefs the Elder
Interior of Gothic Church
oil on panel
Dulwich Picture Gallery, London


Marrow of time; eternity in brief
Compendium epitomized; the chief
Contents, the indices, the title-pages
Of all past, present, and succeeding ages;
Sublimate graces, antedated glories;
     The cream of holiness;
        The inventories
     Of future blessedness;
The florilegia of celestial stories;
Spirits of joys; the relishes and closes
Of angels' music; pearls dissolvèd; roses
Perfumèd; sugared honeycombs; delights
     Never too highly prized;
        The marriage rites
     Which, duly solemnized,
Usher espousèd souls to bridal nights;
Gilded sunbeams; refinèd elixirs
And quintessential extracts of stars –
Who love not you, doth but in vain profess
That he loves God, or heaven, or happiness.

– Christopher Harvey (1640)