Thursday, 17 February 2011

Picture it

My trip back to Sarum College wasn't a holiday - I was on a short course entitled "Infancy Narratives of Matthew, Luke and James" which looked at the various accounts of the birth of Jesus and how they have influenced the ways in which classical artists have portrayed the event.

Taking the apocryphal Gospel of James as our starting point on Monday afternoon, we looked at, amongst others, works by Giotto, Ghirlandaio and Gaddi. The Giotto frescoes in particular tell Mary's story and show how Joseph was chosen to be her husband. The image above shows their betrothal after Joseph's rod has burst into flower, signifying that he is the intended groom. To the left you can see a disappointed suitor breaking his rod over his knee in annoyance, whilst another steps forward to slap Joseph across the head - an ancient symbol of ascertaining his virility.

On Tuesday morning we looked at Matthew's Gospel and his genealogy of Jesus, and viewed works by Champaigne, Sasseta and El Greco. In the afternoon we began on Luke, and looked at paintings by Fra Angelico, van Eyck, Tintoretto and Rosetti.

Wednesday morning we should have finished Luke's opening chapters, but our lecturer, Dori Rockefeller, was unwell and unable to be with us, so instead the cathedral Precentor came across and spoke to us on "Liturgy as Art" and caused us to think about the "theatre" of what we do in our worship.

In all it was an entertaining and informative time, and well worth attending. A feast for the mind and eyes. The food at the College was good as well!

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