Series of Pagan Wise Men and Sibyls (eight surviving panels) painted by Ludger tom Ring the Elder after Robert Campin’s (now lost) Series.
The original cycle, probably made for the cathedral at Münster about 1435, contained portraits of five pagan wise men (Milesius, Balaam, Virgil, Albumasar, Hermes) and ten sibyls (Libyca, Delphica, Eritraea, Frigia, Tiburtina, Cumaea, Samia, Hellespontica, Persica, Chimica).
Credit for the first cursive type is generally given to the French punchcutter Robert Granjon, who made a type based on the Gothic cursive book hand that had been in use for several centuries in northern Europe before the invention of printing... It was related to the bâtarde form of blackletter type, although it was certainly more freely written. The first use of the Granjon cursive was in Dailogue de la Vie et de la Mort, by Innocenzio Ringhierei, printed at Lyons in 1557. Its second appearance, the following year, was of greater importance, as it was used in La Civilité Puerile, written by Erasmus as a grammar of manners for children. Reprinted innumerable times in later centuries, ans always with the same style of type, the title became synonymous with the type: Civilité.
Faith, shield divided into light and darkness, party per fess or and sable, charged with a cross resting upon the neck of a serpant surmounted on a skull. Sin and Death overcome by the power of the cross, which has for crest the celestial crown. Supporters two angels holding the lower shields. Hope, party per fess sable and sea proper, charged with the firmly planted anchor as the last. Charity, on a shield party per pale sable and or, the pelican feeding its young with its own life blood, proper, the heart below gules, being typical of love.
The Ars Memoranda, another xylographic work, of which the subject, taken from the New Testament, was equally well adapted to the imagination of the artists, had an equally glorious destiny. The work originally comprised thirty blocks, the fifteen blocks of text facing the fifteen engravings. The designs represented the attributes of each of the Evangelists, with allegories and explanatory legends. Thus, in that which relates to the Apostle Matthew:#1 represents the Birth and Genealogy of Jesus ChristThe angel that supports the whole is the emblem of St. Matthew the Evangelist.
#2 the Adoration of the Magi
#3 the Baptism of St. John
#4 the Temptation of Christ
#5 the Sermon on the Mount
#6 the Parable of the Birds
This mnemonic treatment of the Gospels proceeded from symbols of which we have no means of finding the origin, but which without doubt went back many centuries earlier... In 1505 a German publisher published an imitation of it, under the title of Rationarium Evangelistarum; and this time the copyist of the illustrations, although trying to retain the tradition of the first xylographers, none the less reveals himself as an artist of the first order, at least a pupil of Martin Schongauer.
Incidit in Scyllam qui vult vitare Charybdim.C.S. Lewis:
Satan always sends error into the world in pairs that are opposites. His great hope is that you will get so upset about one of his errors that you’ll react into the opposite one, and he’s got you.SCYLLA: L'ART SAINT-SULPICE
In 1862 Paris had at least a hundred and twenty-one firms that made and marketed the material culture of Catholicsm: holy water fonts, medals, statues, crucifixes, rosaries, holy cards, ex votos, religious jewelry, candles, scapulars, creches, wax Agnus Dei, lace pictures, and novena cards. Since the 1840's. Paris's Left Bank had become the worldwide center for the sale of liturgical arts (chalices, vestments, monstrances) and sacred arts (stained-glass windows, statues, church murals). The area around the rue Saint-Jacques and the church of Saint-Sulpice became synonymous with the objets de religion used in domestic worship and church art. What concerns me here is not the small objects which Catholic put in their pockets or placed in their home shrines. Rather, it is the debate over what was kitsch and what was art which originated with the domination of l'Art Saint-Sulpice in church decoration.[Material Christianity by Colleen McDannell. Yale University Press. 1995]
The shops in the Saint-Sulpice quarter sold [plaster] statues and other church furnishing made in factories outside Paris.... Plaster could be moulded and easily carved to achieve realistic images of Christ, Mary, the saints, and angels. Unlike the realistic statues of the Baroque period, l'Art Saint-Sulpice avoided the bloody and pained images of Christ and the martyrs. There was almost no decay or decomposition in l'Art Saint-Sulpice....
By the end of the 19th century, l'Art Saint-Sulpice became the international style of Catholic church art. From Ireland to Mexico to India or the United States, local art was replaced by goods either imported from France or copied from French standards. In the United States, the area around Barclay Street in Manhattan housed import firms that dealt with the French-produced religious arts and companies that made Catholic devotional goods.
It would be said [in the future] that the artists [of the early 20th century] had ceded their posts to the merchants; it would seem that the sculptor and the goldsmith had no concern for making a beautiful object to inspire piety, but rather for making an industrial model able to be multiplied by the dozen. The noble carving of marble and wood had been laid aside before the invasion of common plaster. Lamps and candlesticks, and (infinitely sadder) chalices and ciboria were many times considered as mere hardware. And in this inundation of so many profane and vulgar objects, as wretched in form as in material, it would be useless to look for any sign of religious inspiration or even a recollection of the respect deserved by the noble destiny for which they were forged: honor to the House of God and participation in the most august sacrifice.... Everyone who desires to find in the temple surroundings conducive to the elevation of the spirit must condemn repeatedly the profanity of modern religious art.[Talleres de Arte and the Renovation of Liturgical Art by Rev. Demetrio Zurbitu Recalde, SJ. 1929]
Just about everything has been said about what is called the art of Saint-Sulpice - an ill-chosen phrase, it must be said, and one that is very insulting to an estimable Parisian parish, the more so because the scourge in question is world-wide in scope; about the diabolical ugliness, offensive to God and much more harmful than is generally believed to the spread of religion, of the majority of the objects turned out by modern manufacture for the decoration of churches.[Art and Scholasticism by Jacques Maritain. 1935]
L'Art Sacré stood at the center of an attempt to reconcile modern art and the French Catholic Church. Published in two series, before and after World War II, and, between 1937 and 1954, edited by two Dominicans, [Pie-Raymon] Régamey and [Marie-Alain] Couturier, it was the inspiration behind a few large-scale undertakings: the churches and chapels of Assy, Vence, Audincourt and Ronchamp. In 1950, very aggressive resistance surfaced, a consequence, in particular, of the crucifix by Germaine Richier added to the church in Assy. Fifty years from now, one article declared, who will remember Reverend Father Régamey and Reverend Father Couturier, with all their smug, naïve admiration of hideous works, some of them baroque, some monstrous, some Satanic?
[The Forbidden Image by Alain Besançon. University of Chicago Press. 2001]
In 1925, at the age of 27, Pierre Couturier put away his brushes and became a Dominican monk. Years later, his spiritual superiors asked Pére Couturier what he thought of the present art in churches. His answer came with surprising vehemence. Our church art is in complete decay, he burst out. It is dead, dusty, academic - imitations of imitations... with no power to speak to modern man. Outside the Church the great modern masters have walked - Manet, Cézanne, Renoir, Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso, Braque. The Church has not reached out, as once it would have, to bring them in....
Father Couturier's superiors were impressed. See what you can do, they told him....[Time Magazine. 20 June 1949]
White-robed, ascetic-looking Father Couturier... has become the light and power of a small but significant movement among French artists... In his spare time he has devoted his energies tirelessly to visiting the studios of artists everywhere and telling them that the Church is where their work belongs. In addition he founded, twelve years ago, the little magazine L'Art Sacré, which has had a measurable influence on French priests as well as artists.
Gradually he has won the interest of scoffers and agnostics among the painters, even including a few Communists (e.g. Picasso). Father Couturier welcomes them all, whatever the state of their faith. We start, he explains, with the assumption that artists are men and therefore sinners. If their sins are sometimes startling, it is because they are men of imagination, artists. But all spring from our culture and even our religion.... When some think themselves communist, it is as artists are communist, out of love for the poor. We must free them to work for us, give them the right to paint on our walls, and they will tell our great story as it has not been told in 500 years.
Father Couturier has several projects in various stages of completion. Sometimes they are delayed by ecclesiastics who have strenuously differing views about how a church should be decorated. But the work of Father Couturier is finding growing support among his fellow churchmen and also among such anticlericals as Henri Matisse, the grand old man of French painting.
In our day we are witnessing a peculiar outbreak of ugliness and brutality in the domain of art; yes, even in the field of Christian art. This morbid epidemic has the character of a deforming arthritism or elephantiasm or leprosy in art.... The late Cardinal Constantini, chairman of the Pontifical Academy of Art, speaks of visual blasphemies and figurative horrors in modernistic art, arousing a sense of repugnance and disgust. Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the saints are pictured with cretinic faces and with hands and feet affected with elephantiasis. Christ, on the Cross, is portrayed as degraded and almost animal-like. We meet saints with monkey faces and in attitudes that remind one of a mental hospital or an institution for abnormal diseases. Many suspect - and not without reason - that we are face to face here with the infiltrations of Communism seeking to make religion ridiculous and repulsive, especially to the children.
[Msgr. Rudolph G. Bandas, Modernistic Art and Divine Worship. The American Ecclesiastical Review, 1960]
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