CHRIST the HIGH PRIEST
DRAWING by DANIEL MITSUI
This is an ink drawing on an 8 1/2" × 11" piece of Bristol board. I drew it using fine-tipped pens and calligraphers’ inks applied with brushes.
Vox Clara is a Vatican committee of senior bishops from episcopal conferences throughout the English-speaking world that advises the Holy See on English-language liturgy. In 2012, the committee published an interim edition of the Roman Pontifical, including new translations of certain texts drawn from the revised Roman Missal. I was commissioned to create a series of five color illustrations for this book, including this one of Christ the High Priest.
Christ the High Priest is depicted wearing priestly vestments, holding a chalice and host, at the moment of the Mass when Ecce Agnus Dei is recited. Surrounding him are red six-winged seraphim and blue four-winged cherubim. Filling the space outside this central group are the winged beasts representing the four Evangelists.
The Blessed Virgin and John the Baptist, who flank Christ in traditional Deësis and Last Judgment pictures, are drawn in the side borders. The Blessed Virgin stands on a crescent moon and has twelve stars in her halo.
Christ stands atop a T-O map of the world, indicating His sovereignty over the entire world. The map’s divisions represent the three continents known to medieval Christians: Asia is at the top, and is identified by Noah’s Ark atop Mount Ararat, a bactrian camel and an oriental temple; Europe is identified by a Gothic cathedral and a moose; Africa by a giraffe and Egyptian pyramids. These continents correspond to the three Magi, who are depicted in the borders: according to tradition, Caspar was Asian, Melchior European and Balthazar African. Together, they represent all the ages and races of mankind.
In the upper border are Moses and Elijah, who appeared beside Christ at the Transfiguration and who respectively represent the Law and the Prophets. Emblems of the three theological virtues (a cross for faith, an anchor for hope and a heart for charity) and the Alpha and Omega are also included.
In the bottom left corner, within a quatrefoil, is an image of the Lamb of God. The other three corner spaces contain the words Ecce Agnus Dei in stylized letters, surrounded by a millefleur pattern.
15th century panel paintings, tapestries and prints influenced this drawing. Artists whose work I studied when drawing it include Gerard David, Martin Schongauer and Konrad Witz.
The original drawing included liturgical scenes specific to the Roman Pontifical; the Lamb of God and the words Ecce Agnus Dei were drawn on separate pieces of vellum and edited into the print file in their places.
An open-edition giclée print of this drawing is available for $88. You may use the button below to pay via PayPal, debit card or credit card. Be sure to confirm the shipping address.
This drawing is part of a set of five (along with Crucifixion, Last Supper, Pentecost and Presentation. If you order the full set at once, the fifth print is free.
See this page for additional ordering instructions and general information. If you want to pay via a check or money order, please e-mail me at danmitsui [at] hotmail [dot] com.