Thursday, June 7, 2012

Corpus Christi

Title: A Blessed Abbes Receiving the Host from the Hands of Christ
Artist: Giovanni Battista Gaulli

Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 75 x 43 cm
Date: 1690s
Location: Musée du Louvre, Paris.

Luke 22:19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

The Feast of Corpus Christi, or the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (as it is often called today), goes back to the 13th century, but it celebrates something far older: the institution of the Sacrament of Holy Communion at the Last Supper. On September 8, 1264, Pope Urban IV issued the papal bull "Transiturus," which established the Feast of Corpus Christi as a universal feast of the Church, to be celebrated on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday.

Giovanni Battista Gaulli (May 1639 –April 1709), also known as Baciccio, Il Baciccio or Baciccia (all Genoese nicknames for Giovanni Battista), was a painter of the Italian High Baroque. As the High Baroque movement evolved into the more playful Rococo, and the popularity of this style dwindled, Baciccio too moved in this direction. Thus, in contrast to the grandeur of his composition of the illusionistic vault fresco in the church of the Gesù in Rome, we see him gradually adopting less intense colors, and more delicate compositions after 1685 - all hallmarks of the Rococo. Baciccio is best known for his grand, Gianlorenzo Bernini-influenced  vault fresco in the church of the Gesù.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Trinity Pietà

Title: Trinity Pietà
Artist: Master of Sankt Laurenz
Medium: Oil on oak panel
Size: 23 x 16 cm
Date: 1415-30
Location: Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne.

Trinity Sunday, a moveable feast also known as Holy Trinity Sunday, is celebrated a week after Pentecost Sunday in honor of the most fundamental of Catholic beliefs - belief in the Holy Trinity. As expressed in the Athanasian creed (ascribed to Saint Athanasius, c. 296-373), “There is, therefore, one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits; and in this Trinity there is nothing first or later, nothing greater or less, but all three Persons are coeternal and coequal with one another, so that in every respect, as has already been said above, both unity in Trinity, and Trinity in unity must be venerated.”

The Man of Sorrows in the arms of God the Father with the Holy Ghost between them both is often termed a Trinity Pietà. The depiction is more common in French and Burgundian court painting from the end of the fourteenth century onwards. In this example, the Man of Sorrows is flanked by four angels, with two of them holding the Flagellation column, the scourge, the stick with the sponge and the lance. The panel is attributed to the Master of Sankt Laurenz (St Lawrence), the pupil of the Cologne Master of St Veronica. It is also assumed that this small panel was the left wing of a diptych having, on the right, a Mater Dolorosa.