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Writings of Srsf* ^nna ^amr sen* 

— • — 

Mrs. Jameson has probably clone more than any other writer to 
familiarize the public mind with the principles of art ; and her per- 
ception of the inner spirit of a great work was so thorough that its 
mere statement was eloquence. Her style has a richness, en- 
erg)', and vividness corresponding to the clearness and fullness of 
he^ intellect and the earnestness and warmth of her heart, —^^j- 
ion Transcript. 

etical, atid Historical. From the last London Edition. iSmo, 


THE DIA R V OF A N ENNUYEE. From the last London 

Edition. iSmo $i-5o 

graphical Sketches of Women celebrated in Ancient and Mod- 
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engraving of Correggio's Magdalen. iSmo $i-5o 

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LEGENDS OF THE MADONNA zs represented in the 
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Vol. \. Containing Legends of the Angels and Archangels, 
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Saint Mary Magdalene, as represented in the Fine Arts. 
With a steel portrait of Leonardo da Vinci. 

Vol. IL Containing the Legends of the Patron Saints, the 
Martyrs, the Early Bishops, the Hermits, and the Warrior Saints 
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sented in the Fine Arts. Forming the Second Series of Sacred 
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The ten volumes in box, cloth SiS-oo 

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OME time since Mrs. Jameson kindly con- 
sented to prepiUT for tliis Edition of her 
writings her " Sacred and Legendary Art," 

" Legends of the Madonna," and " Legends of the 
Monastic Orders," but dying before she had time to 
fulfil her promise, the arrangement has been intrusted 
to other hands. The text of the whole series is au 
exact reprint of the last English editions. 




HE Author ventures to hope that, on com- 
paring this Third Edition of " Sacred and 
Legendary Art " with the two preceding, it 
will be found greatly inijirovcd, and ren- 
dered more worthy of the kind approbation and sym- 
pathy with which it has been received. The whole 
has been carefully revised ; the references to the pic- 
tures and other works of Art corx-ected from the latest 
authorities, and many new examples have been added. 
In a work so multifarious in its nature, and compris- 
ing so many hundred subjects and references, there 
may remain some errors and omissions, but they have 
not occurred from want of cai'c ; and I must not omit 
to express due thanks for the observations ^nd correc- 
tions which have been forAvarded to me frop? time to 
time, and which have been in this Edition -oarc^ully 
atu-wded to. 

^A. '1. 

lanuary, 1857. 



HIS book was begun six years ago, in 1842, 
'')sM\ I^ ^^s since been often laid aside, and again 

resumed. In this lonix interval, mariA' use- 
ful and delightful Avorks have been written 
on the same subjeet, but still the particular ground 
I had chosen remained unoccupied ; and, amid nuiny 
difficulties, and the consciousness of many deficiencies, 
I was encouraged to proceed, partly by the ])leasure I 
took in a task so cougenial, — partly by the couviction 
that such a work has long been wanted by those who 
are not contented with a mere manual of reference, or 
a mere catalogue of names. This book is intended 
not only to be consulted, but to be read, — if it be 
found worth reading. It has been written for those 
who are, like myself, unlearned ; yet less, certainly, 
with the idea of instructing, than from a wish to share 
with others those pleasurable associations, those ever 
new and ever various aspects of character and senti- 
ment, as exhibited in Art, which have been a source 
of such vivid enjoyment to myself. 

This is the utmost limit of my ambition ; and, 
knowing that I cannot escape criticism, I am at least 
anxious that there should be no mistake as to purpose 
and intention. I hope it will be clearly understood 
that I have taken throughout the aesthetic and not the 


relijjious view of those productions of Art which, in as 
far as they are informed with a true and earnest feeling:, 
and steeped in that beauty which emanates from genius 
inspired ])y foith, may cease to be lieligion, but cannot 
cease to be Poetry ; and as poetry only I have con- 
sidered them. 

The difficulty of selection and compression has been 
the greatest of all my dirticultics ; there is not a chap- 
ter in this book which might not have been more 
easily extended to a volume than compressed into 
a few pages Every reader, however, who is inter- 
ested in the subject, may supply the omissions, follow 
out the suggestions, and enjoy the pleasure of discover- 
ing new exceptions, new analogies, for himself. AVith 
regard to the arrangement, I am afraid it will be found 
liable to objections ; but it is the best that, after long 
consideration and many changes, I could fix upon. 
It is not formal, nor teclmical, liki' that of a catalogue 
or a calendar, but intended to lead the fanc}' naturally 
from subject to subject as one opened upon another, 
with just sufficient order to keep the mind unporplexed 
and the attention unfatigued amid a great diversity of 
objects, scenes, stories, and characters. 

The authorities for the legends have been the Lerjpmhi 
Aurea of Voragine, in the old French and English 
translations ; the F/os Sanctorum of Ribadeneira, in the 
old French translation ; the Prrfitto Legendario, editions 
of Rome and Venice; the Lfffjemle delle Saute Ver(jiui, 
Florence and Venice ; the large work of Baillet, Lcs 
Vies des Saints, in thirty-two volumes, most useful for 
the historical authorities ; and Alban Butler's Lives of 
the Saints. All these have been consulted for such 
particulars of circumstance and character as might 
illustrate the various representations, and then com- 
pressed into a narrative as clear as I could render it. 
Where one authority only has been followed, it is 
usually placed in the margin. 


The First Part contains the legends of the Scriptural 
personages and the primitive Fathers. 

The Second Part contains those sainted personages 
who lived, or are supposed to have lived, in the first 
ages of Christianity, and whose real histoiy, founded 
on fact or tradition, has been so disguised by poetical 
embroidery, that they have in some sort the air of 
ideal beings. As I could not undertake to go through 
the whole calendar, nor yet to make my book a cata- 
logue of pictures and statues, I have confined myself 
to the saints most interesting and important, and 
(with very few exceptions) to those works of art of 
which I could speak from my own knoAvledge. 

The legends of the monastic orders, and the history 
of the Franciscans and Dominicans, considered merely 
in their connection with the rcA-ival and development 
of the Fine Arts in the thirteenth and fourteenth centu- 
ries, open so wide a range of speculation, — the charac- 
teristics of these religious enthusiasts of both sexes ai'e 
so full of interest and beauty as artistic conceptions, 
and as psychological and philosophical studies so ex- 
traordinary, that I could not, in conscience, compress 
them into a few pages ; they form a volume complete 
in itself, entitled, " Legends of the Monastic Orders." 

To collect a portfolio of prints, including those works 
of art which are cited under each head as examples, 
with a selection from the hundreds of others whicli are 
not cited, and arrange them in the same order, — witli 
refei'ence, not to schools, or styles, or dates, hut to sub- 
ject merely, — would be an amusing, and I think not 
a profitless, occupation. It could not be done in the 
right spirit without leading the mind far beyond the 
mere pleasure of compai-ison and criticism, to "thoughts 
more elevate and reasonings hijzh " of things celestial 
and terrestrial, as shadowed forth in form by the wit 
and the hand of man. 



I. Of the Origin and general Significance of the Legends 

represented in Art 1 

II. Of the Distinction to be drawn between Devotional and 

Historical Subjects 12 

III. Of the Patron Saints of particular Countries, Cities, 

and Localities 20 

IV. Of certain Emblems and Attributes of general Applica- 

tion 26 

V. Of the Significance of Colors. Conclusion . . 41 


Of Angels. Antiquity of the Belief in Angels. Early No- 
tions respecting them. How represented in the Old 
Testament. In the New Testament. Angelic Hierar- 
chies. The Nine Choirs. Seraphim, Cherubim. Gen- 
eral Characterisiics in Painting. Infant Angels. Wings. 
Angels of Dante. Angels as Messengers, Choristers, 
Guardians. As Ministers of Wrath. As Agents in the 
Creation. Manner in which the principal Painters have 
set forth the .A.ngelic Forms and Attributes ... 47 

The Archangels. The Seven Archangels. The Four Arch- 
angels. The Three Archangels 91 

St. Michael ... 96 

St. Gabriel 119 

St. Raphael 126 

Additional Notes on Angels 131 



The earliest Types : as Four Books •, as Four Rivers 5 as the 
Four Mysterious Animals •, the Human and Animal 
Forms combined ; with Wings ; as Men . . . 132 

St. Matthew. His Legend. His Attributes. Pictures from 

his Life not common 142 

St. Mark. His Legend. Devotional Pictures : as Evange- 
list 5 as the Disciple of Peter 5 as the Patron Saint of 
Venice. Tlie Legend of the Fisherman. The Legend of 
the Christian Slave. The Translation of the Body of St. 
Mark 146 

St. Luke. His Legend. Devotional Figures. Attributes: 
as Evangelist and Painter. St. Luke painting the Vir- 
gin ........... 155 

St. John. His Legend. Devotional Pictures : as Evange- 
list ; as Apostle ; as Prophet. Subjects from his Life ; 
Legend of St. John and the Robber ; of the two Young 
Men -, of Drusiana ; of the Huntsmen and the Partritlge. 
The Martyrdom of St. John. Legend of the Death of St. 
John. Legend of Galla Placidia. Of King Edward the 
Confessor 158 

The Six "Writers of the Canonical Epistles, as a Series . 175 


Ancient Types : as Twelve Sheep ; as Twelve Doves ; as 
Twelve Men. How grouped in Ecclesiastical Decora- 
tion. In the Old Mosaics ; their proper Place. Exam- 
ples from various Painters. Historical Subjects relating 
to the Twelve Apostles : the Pentecost ; the Separation 
of the Twelve Apostles to preach the Gospel 5 the Twelve 
Baptisms ; the Twelve Martyrdoms .... 176 

St. Peter and St. Pacl. The Ancient Greek Types. Ex- 
amples of the early Treatment of these two Apostles : in 
the old Mosaics 5 in early Sculptm-e 5 in Pictures . . 190 

St. Peter. His peculiar Attributes : as Apostle and Patron 
Saint j as the Head and Founder of the Roman Church ; 
St. Peter as Pope. Subjects from the Scriptural Life of 
St. Peter. Legendary Stories connected with St. Peter. 
The Legend of Simon Magus; of the '■'■ Domine quo 
Vadis ? " of Processus and IMartinian. The Martyrdom 
of St. Peter. St. Peter as Keeper of the Gates of Para- 


disc. The Legend of St. Petronilla. The Life of St. 

l^eter ill a Series of Su'njocts 203 

St. Pall. Earliest Type. Attributes of St. Paul: the 
S.vorl. Snl)jicts fr >m his Life. Stfming of Stephen. 
Coiiversiou of St. Paul. The Vision of St Paul. Mira- 
cles of St. Paul, llis Martyrdom. Tlie Legend of Piau- 
til'.a. The Life of St. Paul in a Series of Sul.jects . 213 

St. Andrew. The L'.-gend. Attributes Historical Subjects 
from the Life of St. Amlrew. Flagellati > i. Adoration 
of the Cross. Martyr loni as represented by Guido, Do- 
menichino, and Murillo 234 

St. J.\mf.s Ma.job. Story ami Charact r as r presented in 
Scripture. St. James as Patron of Sjjain. The Legend 
of Santiago. Tlie Battle of Clavij >. Th;; Pilgrims of 
C()mi>ostella. The Devotional Fignr's an I Attributes of 
St. James the Apostle As Tutelar Saint of Si>ain. Pic- 
tures from his Legend • 238 

St. Philip. Tiie Legend of the Llol and the Serixjnt. De- 
votional Pictures an I Attributes. Subjects from liis 
L»»gend. Distinction between St. Philip the Apostle and 
St. Philip the Deacon 249 

St. BARTUOLO-Miiw. The Legend. The Attributes. Martyr 

dom ........... 252 

St. Thomas. Origin of his peculiar Attribute. The T^egend 
of King Gondoforus. The Incredulity of St. Thnmas. 
The L.'gend of the '■'■Madonna delta Cintola.'''' Mar- 
tynlom of St. Thomas 253 

St. JA.\t.':s >IisoR. First Bishop of Jerusalem. Attributes. 
Resemblance to Christ. Subjects from his Life. Mar- 
tyrdom. Frescos at Padua 259 

St. Simon and St. Jhde. Legend and Attributes. Repre- 
sented as Children 261 

St. Matthias Attributes , . 263 

JrDAS Iscartot. Scriptural Character. Legends relating 

to him 5 how represented in various Sutjjects . . . 263 

The Last Scpper. Its Importance as a Sacred Subject. 
Devotional when it rei)resents the Institution of the 
Eucharist Historical when it represents the Detection 
of Judas. Various Examples. Giotto. Duccio of Siena. 
Angelico da Fiesole. Luca Signorelli. Gliirlandajo. 
Albert Diirer. Leonardo da Yinci. Raphael. Andrea 
del Sarto. Titian. Poussin 270 


Faults and Mistakes committed by Painters in representing 

the Last Supper 284 

St. Barnabas. His Legend. Popular at Venice as Kinsman 
of St. Mark. Represented with the Gospel of St. Mat- 
thew 290 


The Four Latin Fathers. Their Peculiar Attributes. Their 
proper Place in Ecclesiastical Decoration. Subjects in 
which they are introduced together .... 293 

St. Jerome. History and Character. Influence over the 
Roman Women. Origin of his Attributes. Legend of 
the Wounded Lion. Devotional Figures of St. Jerome : 
as Patron Saint •, as Translator of the Scriptures ; as 
Penitent. Subjects from the Life of St. Jerome. The 
Communion of St. Jerome 300 

St Ambrose. Story and Character of St. Ambrose. The 
Emperor Theodosius. The Discovery of the Martyrs St. 
Protasius and St. Gervasius. Legends relating to St. 
Ambrose. The Prefect Macedonius. The Nobleman of 
Tuscany. Devotional Figures of St. Ambrose. His pe- 
culiar Attributes. His Church at Milan ; his Life as 
represented on the Altar. Statue of St. Ambrose . . 315 

St. Augustine. Character of St. Augustine. His Shrine at 
Pavia, and Basso-relievos representing his Life. Devo- 
tional Figures of St. Augustine. Represented with his 
Mother, Monica. Various Subjects from his Life. The 
Vision of St. Augustine 324 

St. Gregory. His Story and Character. His Popularity. 
Legends connected with his Life. Origin of his Attribute, 
the Dove. The Supper of St. Gregory. The Mass of St. 
Gregory. The Miracle of the Brandeum. St. Gregory 
releases the Soul of the Emperor Trajan. The Legend as 
represented in Pictures. The Legend of the Monk. St. 
Gregory's Doctrine of Purgatory. How represented. . 331 

The Four Greek Fathers. How represented in the Greek 

Pictures, and by the Latin Artists 342 

St. John Chrysostom. Singular Legends with regard to him. 
The Penance of St. Chrysostom. As I'epresented in the 
German Prints. By Lucas Cranach. By Beham. By 
Albert DUrer 343 


St. Pasii. the Great. His Character. How represented. 

Story of the Emperor Valeus. Legends wliich refer to jjt. 

Basil 354 

St. Atbaxasics. How represented. I.'npopular as a subject 

of Art 353 

St. Gregory Nazfanzen". Ilis History and Character. His 
celebrity as a Poet. IJeauiilul Miniatures relative to Lis 
Life 359 

St. Cyril. How represented 362 


Character of Mary Maprdalene. Disputes concerning her 
Identity. The Popular and Scriptural Legend. The old 
ProveuQal Legend. The Devotionjil Representations. 
as Patron Saint ; as Penitent Sacred Subjects in which 
she is introduced. Legendary Subjects. La Danse de 
la Madeleine The Assumption of ttie Magdalene. The 
L 'genrl of the Mother and Child H-.-r Life in a Series 
of Subjects. Legends of Mary Magdalene and St. John 
the Evangelist 363 

St. ^Iartha. H.-r Character. L-gends of St. Martha. How 

represented. Where introduced 404 

St. Lazarcs 406 

St. Mart of Egypt. The Legend. Distinction between St. 
Mary of Egypt and Mary Mairdalpne. Proper Attributes 
of Mary of Egj-pt. Stories and Pictures from her Life . 408 

Mart the Penitent, not to be confounded with Mary of 
Egypt. Her Story. Landscapes of Philip de Cham- 
pagne ......... 414 

St. Thais. St. Pelagia 416 


I. Of the Ouigix and General SiexiFiCAXCE op 
THE Legends kepresented ix Art. 

E cannot look ruund a ,pi<;turc prallerT:, we 
cannot turn ovei p..pov:t"c!Jio of priufS-afrpr 
tlic olil nuistcj;s, iior evt'ii- tile i>»o(lei,ii,-c.ri- 
•rravin^-s \fliiclr i)\)ii:' ujjon us daily, fiorn 
..'aris, Alutiirii, or Berlin, witljout |)cri-eivin;^ how many 
of the most cclel»rjitctl proijuvtioiis of Art, more pa'*- 
ticularly tliose wlii-li liavcdi'S'-endcd to us from th3 
early Italian and Geniuiu -Kcliools, r';<resent incidents 
and characters taken froi,n the once po,»ular lejrends of 
the Catholic Churdi. : This form of '• Ilero-Wors/u))^' 
lias become, since th« llfVoitmation, stranjre to us, — ^as 
far removed from our symj/athies and associations a^ 
if it were antecedent to the fall of Baliylon and re!titcd 
to the religion of Zoroaster,' instead of l)eing-_ ^a^v j^t 
two or three centuries l)ehin<l us-and closeU* ciin-icoled. 
with the faith of our forefathers a\id^the liistoiy ci" civil- 
ization and Christianity. Of late years, with a g:row- 
in;^ passion for the works of Art of the Middle Aires, 
there has arisen amonir us a desire to comprehend the 
state of feelinu: which in-oduced them, and the letreuds 
and traditions on which they are founded ; — a desire 
to understand, and to bring to some surer critical test, 
representations which have become familiar Avithout 
being intelligible. To enable us to do this, we must 
pause for a moment at the outset; and, before we 


pliin<re into tlie midst of tliin<rs, ascend to Injxlier 
ground, and comniand a far wider range of illustration 
tlian has yet been attenijited, in order to take cognizance 
of principles and results wliich, if not new, must be 
contemplated in a new relation to each other. 

Tlie Legendary Art of the Middle Ages sprang out 
of the legendary liserature of the preceding ages. For 
three centuries at this literature, the only literature 
which existed at the time, formed the sole mental and 
moral nourishment of the people of Europe. The 
romances of Chivalry, which long afterwards succeeded, 
were confined to partii ular classes, and left no impress 
on Alt,' beyond tf:e niiniatm-e illuminations of a few 
•manuscripts. This legerdar}- literature, on the con- 
trary, -vv'hich had worked itself into the life of the people, 
tpcaine, like the antique mythology, as a living soul 
, i'iifiised throuizh the loveliest forms of Art, still vivid 
' and vivifvintr, even whcr the old faith in its mvsiical 
faignificance was lost or fo/gotien. And it is a mistake 
"to sup])ose that these legends hacl their sole origin in 
' the l)r:iins of dreaming moKkc. The wildest of them 
had some basis of truth to rest on, and the forms which 
-c they gradually assumed wcr3 but the necessary result 
' of the aire which produced t'leni. Tliev I ecame the 
/intense expression of thct Inner life, which revolted 
c' jl<rriip<?'t th/; .dc.^clation '?md emptiness of the outward 
c e!x.ii4tQticfe ; <of thosd crushed and outraged sympathies 
Sv.liich vriefl aloud for resi, and refuge, and solace, and 
could uowherc fii'd' them. It Mill be said, " In the 
purer doctrine of the Gospel." But where was that 
to be found? The Gospel v. as not then the heritage 
of the poor: Christ, as a comforter, walked not among 
men. His own blessed teachirig was inaccessible ex- 
cept to the learned : it was shut u\) in rare manuscripts ; 
it was perverted and sophisiicatcd by the passions and 
the blindness of those few to whom it was accessible. 
The bitter disputes in the early Church relative to the 
nature of the Godhead, the subtle distinctions and in- 


comprclicnsililc aririimcnts of the tlieolofrians, tlic dread 
entertained l)y the predominant ehurch of any heterodox 
opinions eoneerning- the divinity of the Redeemer, had 
all conspired to remove Ilim, \\\ liis personal eiiaraeter 
of Teacher and Saviour, far away from the hearts of 
the henighted and miserable people, — far, fiir away into 
rejjions speculative, mysterious, spiritual, whither they 
could not, dared not, follow Him. In this state of 
thinp;s, as it has been remarked by a distinguished 
writer, " Christ became the object of a remoter, a more 
awful adoration. The mind l>epin, therefore, to seek 
out, or ea,i,a'rly to seize, some other n»ore material lieinjxs 
in closer alliance with human sym]>athies." And the 
same author, after tracinj^ in vivid and beautiful lan- 
guaije the dangerous but natural consccpiences of this 
feeling, thus sums up the result : " During the perilous 
and gloomy days of persecution, tlie reverence for those 
who endured martyrdom for the religion of Christ had 
grown up out of the best feelings of man's improved 
nature. Ivvvcrence gradually grew into veneration, 
worship, adoration : and although the more rigid the- 
oloirv maintained a marked distinction between the 
lionor shown to the martyrs and that addressed to the 
Ecdeemer and the Supreme Being, the line was too 
fine and invisil)le not to be transgressed by excited 
popular feeling."* 

"We live," says the poet, "through admiration, 
hope, and love." Out of these vital aspirations — not 
indeed always " well or wisely placed," but never, as 
in the heathen mythology, degraded to vicious and 
contemptible objects — arose and spread the universal 
passion for the traditional histories of the saints and 
martyrs, — personages endeared and sanctified in all 
hearts, i)artly as examples of the loftiest virtue, partly 
as benign intercessors between suffering humanity and 
that Deity who, in every other light than as a God of 

* Milman, History of Christianity, III. 540. 


Venq:eance, had been veiled from theii* eyes by the per- 
versiries of sclioolmen and fanatics, till He had receded 
beyond their reach, almost beyond their compreheufeion. 
Of liie prevalence and of tlie incalculable intluencc of 
this legendary literature from the seventh to the tenth 
century, that is, just about tlie period when Modern 
Art was struggling into existence, we have a most 
striking picture in Guizot's " Histoire de la Civilisa- 
tion." " As after the siege of Troy (says this philo- 
sophical and eloquent writer) there were found, in every 
city of Greece, men who collected the traditions and 
adventures of heroes, and sung them for the recreation 
of the people, till these recitals became a national pas- 
sion, a national poetry ; so, at the time of which we 
speak, the traditions of what may be called the heroic 
ages of Christianity liad the same interest for the na- 
tions of Europe. There were men who made it their 
business to collect them, to transcribe them, to read or 
recite them aloud, for the edification and delight of the 
people. And this was the only literature, properly so 
called, of that time." 

Now, if we go back to the authentic histories of the 
sufferinffs and heroism of the earh' m.artvrs, we shall 
find enough there, both of the wonderful and the affect- 
ing, to justify the credulity and enthusiasm of the un- 
lettered people, who saw no reason why they should 
not believe in one miracle as well as in another. In 
these universally diffused legends, we may recognize 
the means, at least one of the means, by which a mer- 
ciful Providence, working through its own immutable 
laws, had provided against the utter depravation, al- 
most extinction, of society. Of the " Dark Ages," 
emphatically so called, the period to which I allude 
was perhaps the darkest ; it was " of Night's black 
arch the key-stone." At a time when men were given 
over to the direst evils that can afflict humanity, — 
ignorance, idleness, wickedness, misery ; at a time 
when the evcry-day incidents of life were a violation of 
all the moral instincts of mankind ; at a time when all 


jliinjrs seemed abandoned to a hlind chance, or the 
l)rui:d hiw of force; wlieu there was no repose, no ref- 
use, no safety anywhere ; when tlie powerful iuflieted, 
and the weak endured, whatever we can conceive of 
most revolting and intoleral)le ; wlien slavery was rec- 
o;i,nized by law throuijhout Europe ; when men fled 
to cloisters, to shut themselves from oppression, and 
women to shield themselves from outrage ; when the 
manners were harsh, the lanijuage gross ,• when all the 
softer social sentiments, as pity, reverence, tenderness, 
found no resting-place in the actual relations of life ; 
when for the higher ranks there was onlv the tierre ex- 
citement of war, and on the huinl)ler classes lav tlic 
"wcary, dreary monotony of a stagnant existence, poor 
in pleasures of every kind, without aim, without hope; 
then — wondrous reaction of tlie inetFaceal)Ic instincts of 
good implanted within us ! — arose a literature which 
reversed the outward order of tilings, which asserted 
and kept alive in the hearts of men those pure principles 
of Cln'istianity wliich were outraged in their daily ac- 
tions ; a literature in which peace was represented as 
better than war, and sntt'erancc more dignified than re- 
sistance ; which exhibited poverty and toil as honor- 
able, and charily as the first of virtues ; whicli held up 
to imitation and emulation, self-sacrifice in the cause 
of good and contempt of death for conscience' sake : a 
literature, in which the tenderness, the chastity, the 
heroism of woman, played a conspicuous pait ; which 
distinctly protested against slavery, against violence, 
against impurity in word and deed ; which refreshed 
the fevered and darkened spirit with images of moral 
beauty and truth ; revealed bright glimpses of a better 
land, where "the wicked cease from troubling," and 
brou2ht down the anuels of God with shining wiui^s 
and bearing crowns of glory, to do battle with the 
demons of darkness, to catch the fleeting soul of the 
trium])hant martyr, and carry it at once into a paradiso 
of eternal blessedness and peace ! 

Now the Legendary Art of the three centuries which 


comprise the revival of learning Avas, as I haA^e said, 
the reflection of this literature, of this teachinjr. Con- 
sidered in tliis point of view, can we easily overrate ii* 
interest and importance ? 

When, after the lonir period of darkness which fol- 
lowed upon the decline of tlie Roman Empire, the Fine 
Arts began to revive, the first, and for several ages the 
only, impress they received Avas that of the religious 
spirit of the time. Pair.iing, Sculj)ture, Music, and 
Architecture, as they emerged one after another from 
the "formless A'oid," Avere j)ressed into the service of 
the Church. But it is a mistuke to sup])ose that in 
adroitly adapting the reviving Arts to her ] urposcs, in 
that magnificent spirit of clculaiion Avhith at all times 
characterized her, the Chr.rch from the Icginning se- 
lected the subjects, or di( (ated the use that Avas to be 
made of them. We tind, on the contrary, edicts and 
councils repressinrj the popular extravagances in this 
respect, and denouncing those apocryphal versions of 
sacred events and traditions Avhidi had become the de- 
light of the people. But vain Avere councils and edicts ; 
the tide Avas too strong to be so checked. The Church 
found herself obliged to accept and mould to her OAvn 
objects the exotic elements she could not eradicate. 
She absorbed, so to speak, the evils and enors she could 
not expel. There seems to haA-e been at this time a 
sort of compromise betAveen the poptilar legends, Avith 
all their Avild mixture of northern and classical super- 
stitions, and the Church legends p-operly so called. 
The first great object to Avhich reviving Art Avas des- 
tined, AA'as to render the Christian places of Avorship a 
theatre of instruction and improvement for the people, 
to attract and to interest them by representations of 
scenes, events, and personages, already so familiar as 
to require no explanation, appealing at once to their 
intelligence and their sympathies ; embodying in beau- 
tiful shapes (beautiful at least in their eyes) associations 
and feelings and memories deep-rooted in their very 


hearts, and wliich liad inflncnccfl, in no slij^'it docrree, 
the proirress of civilization, tlic dcvclopnicnc of mind. 
Upon these creations of ancient Art we cainiot look as 
those did for w'.iom tlicy were created ; we cannot anni- 
hilate the centuries which lie between us an<l them ; we 
cannot, in siin])licity (jf licart, forget the artist in the 
ima.uc he lias placed heforc us, nor sn])ply what may 
be deticient in his work, throui^ii a reverentially excited 
fancy. We arc critical, not creilulous. We no longer 
accept this polytheistic form of Cia-is;ianity ; and tiierc 
is little danircr, I su]>posc, of our fallinir aptin into the 
^tranire excesses of superstiticju to wliicli it led. But if 
we have not much sympathy wit!i modern imitations 
of jMediiCval Art, still less sliould we sympathize with 
that narrow puritanical jealousy which holds the monu- 
ments of a real and earnest faith in contempt. All 
that God lias permitted once to exist in the past should 
be considered as the possession of the present ; sacred 
for example or warniuLT, and held as the fouudatio!i on 
which to build up wiiat is betler and purer. It should 
seem an cstahlis'.ied fact, tliat all revolutions in religion, 
in government, and in art, which begin in the spirit of 
scorn, and in a sweeping destruction of the antecedent 
condition, only tend to a reaction. Our puritanical 
ancestors cliopped ott" ilic heads of JNladonnas and 
Saints, and paid vagabonds to smash the storied win- 
dows of our cathedrals ; — now, are these rejected and 
outraged shapes of beauty coming back to ns, or are we 
not rather going back to them ? As a Protestant, I 
might fear lest in doing so we confound the eternal 
spirit of Christianity with the mutable forms in which 
it has deigned to speak to the hearts of men, forms 
whicli must of necessity vary with the degree of social 
civilization, and bear the impress of the feelings and 
fashions of the age which produced them ; but I must 
also feel that we ought to comprehend, and to hold in 
due reverence, that which has once been consecrated to 
holiest aims, which has shown us what a masrnifirent 
use has been made of Art, and how it may still be 


adapted to jxood and jrlorious purposes, if, while we re- 
spect tlicsc liine-cunsecmied images and types, Ave do 
not allow them to fetter us, but trust in the piogressive 
spirit of Christianity to furnisli us witli new imperson- 
ations of the good, new eombinations of the beautiful. 
I hate the destructive as I revere the progressive spirit. 
Wc must laujih if anv one were to trv and persuade us 
that the sun was guided along his blazing path by "a 
fair-haired god who touched a golden lyre " ; but shall 
we therefore cease to adore in the Apollo Belvedere the 
majestic symi)ol of light, the most divine impersonation 
of intellectual power and beauty ? So of the corre- 
sponding Christian symbols ; — may that time never 
come, when we shall look up to tlie effigy of tlie winged 
and radiant angel trampling down the brute-fiend, with- 
out a glow of faith in the ])erpetual supremacy and final 
triumph of good over evil ! 

It is about a hundred years since the passion, or tlie 
fasliion, for collecting works of Art, began to be gener- 
ally diftused among the rich and the noble of this land ; 
and it is amusing to look back and to consider the per- 
versions and affectations of the would-be connoisseurship 
during this period ; — the very small stock of ideas on 
which people set up a pretension to taste, — the false 
notions, the mixture of pedantry and ignorance, which 
everywhere prevailed. The publication of Richardson's 
book, and Sir Joshua Reynolds's Discourses, had this 
advantage, — that they, to a certain degree, diffused a 
more elevated idea of Art as Art, and that they placed 
connoisseurship on a better and truer basis. In those 
days we had Inquiries into the Principles of Taste, 
Treatises on the Sublime and Beautiful, Anecdotes of 
Painting ; and we abounded in Antiquarian Essays on 
disputed Pictures and mutilated Statues : but then, and 
up to a late period, any inquiry into the true spirit and 
significance of works of Art, as connected with the his- 
tory of Religion and Civilization, would have appeared 
ridiculous — or perhaps dangerous : — we should have 

I X Til DUCT/ ox. 9 

harl another cry of " No Poperv," and acts of Par- 
liament lorl)i(l(lin«r the importation of Saints and JNIa- 
donnas. It was fortnnate, perhaps, that connoisseurs 
meddled not with such hi<?h matters. Thev talked vol- 
ubly and harmlessly of " hands," and " master's," and 
"schools," — of "draperies," of "tints," of " liand- 
lini^," — of " line heads," " tine compositions " ; of the 
'•* grace of Ra])hael," and of the " Correggiosity of 
Correggio." The very manner in which the names of 
the painters were pedantically used, instead of the name 
of the su'jje^'t, is indicative of this factitious ieeling ; 
the only question at issue was, whether such a pic- 
ture was a genuine " Raphael " ? such another a gen- 
uine "Titian"? The spirit of the work — whether 
that was genuine ; how far it was influenced hy the 
faith and tlie condition of the age which j^roduced it ; 
whether the conception was properly characteristic, and 
of what it was characteristic — of the subject 1 or of the 
school 1 or of the turn .' — whether the treatment cor- 
respondc^d to the idea within our own souls, or 
modilied by the individuality of the artist, or by re- 
ceived conventionalisms of all kinds? — these were 
questions which had not then occurred to any one ; and 
I am not sure that we are much wiser even now : yet, 
setting aside all higher considerations, how can we do 
common justice to the artist, unless we can bring his 
work to the test of truth ? and how can wc do this, un- 
less we know what to look for, what was intended as to 
incident, expression, character ? One result of our 
ignorance has been the admiration wasted on the flimsy 
mannerists of the later ages of Art ; men who apparently 
had no definite intention in anything they did, excei)t a 
dashing outline, or a delicate finish, or a striking and 
attractive management of color. 

It is curious, this general ignorance with regard to 
the subjects of Mediieval Art,morc particularly now that 
it has become a reigning fashion among us. We find 
no such ignorance with regard to the subjects of Clas- 


sical Art, because the associations connected with them 
form a part of every lil)eral education. Do we hear 
any one say, in looking at Anuibal Caracci's picture in 
the National Gallery, " Which is Silenus, and which is 
Apollo *" Who ever confounds a Venus with a Mi- 
nerva, or a Vestal with an Amazon ; or would endure 
an undraped Juno, or a beardless Jupiter ? Even the 
gardener in Zeluco knew Neptune hy liis " fork," and 
Vulcan by his " lame leg." We are indeed so accus- 
tomed, in visiting the churches and the galleries abroad, 
and the collections at home, to the predominance of 
sacred suljjects, that it has become a mere matter of 
course, and excites no j)articular interest and attention. 
We have heard it all accounted for by the fact that the 
Church and churchmen were the first, and for a long 
time the only, patrons of art. In every sacred edifice, 
and in every public or private collection enriched from 
the jdunder of sacred edifices, we look for the usual 
proportion of melancholy martyrdoms and fictitious 
miracles, — for the predominance of Madonnas and 
Magdalcncs, St. Catherines and St. Jeromes : but why 
these should predominate, why certain events and char- 
acters from the Old and the New Testament should be 
continually rejieated, and others comparatively neg- 
lected ; whence the predilection for certain legendary 
personages, who seemed to be multiplied to infinity, 
and the rarity of others ; — of this we know nothing. 

We have learned, perhaps, after running through 
half the galleries and churches in Europe, to distinguish 
a few of the attributes and characteristic figures which 
meet us at every turn, yet without any clear idea of 
their meaning, derivation, or relative propriety. The 
palm of victory, we know, designates the martyr tri- 
umphant in death. We so far emulate the critical 
saaacitv of the gardener in Zeluco that we liave learned 
to distinguish St. Laurence by his gridiron, and St. 
Catherine by her wheel. We are not at a loss to rec- 
ognize the Magdalene's " loose hair and lifted eye," 
even when without her skull and her vase of ointment 


Wc Icfirn to know St. Francis by his brown habit and 
sluivcn crown uiitl wasted, ardent features ; but how do 
we distiii4iiis!i hi:n from St. Anthony, or St. Doniiniek? 
As for St. G.'or^e and tlic dr.iu''<>n, — from the St. 
Geori^c of the Louvre, — Raphael's, — who sits his 
horse with the cle'^ant tranquillity of one assured of 
celestial aid, down to him " wiio swi n!::s on a siirn-post 
a: mine hostess's door," — he is our fimiliar acquaint- 
an.-o. But who is lovely bcinu- in tlie first blush 
of youth, who, bearino; aloft the symbolic cross, stands 
with one foot on the van(|uis!ied draL-'on ' " That is a 
copy afrer Raphael." And wiio is that iiiajestie crea- 
ture holdin;^ her palui-!)i\ui(li, while the unicorn 
crouches at her fjet ? " Tiiat is tlie famous iMorctto 
at Vienna." Are wc sriti;fi "1 '> — not in the least ! but 
we try to look wiser, and pass on. 

In the old times the painters of these leorcndary scenes 
and sul)je.TS couid always r^j.-kon securely on certain 
associations and certain sy;ni)athies in the minds of 
tlie spectators. We have outirrown these associations, 
we repudiate these sympathies. We iiave taken these 
works from their consecrated localities, in which they 
once iield each their dedicated place, and wc have hung 
them in our drawini,^-rooms and our dressini^-rooms, 
over our pianos and our side-boards, — and now what 
do they say to us ? That Magdalene, weeping amid 
her hair, who once spoke comfort to the soul of the 
fallen sinner, — that Sebastian, arrow-pierced, whose 
upward, ardent glance spoke of courage and hope to the 
tyrant-ridden serf, — that poor tortured slave, to whose 
aid Sf. Mark com 's sweeping down from above, — can 
they sp'cak to n>i of nothing save flowing lines and cor- 
rect drawing and gorgeous color ? must we be told that 
one is a Titian, t!ic other a Guido, the third a Tiiitoret, 
before we dare to melt in compassion or admiration ? — 
or the moment we refer to their ancient religious sig- 
nification and influence, must it be with disdain or with 
pity ' This, as it appears to me, is to take not a ra- 


tional, but rather a most irrational as -well as a most 
irreverent, view of the question ; it is to confine the 
pleasure and iminovenient to l.e derived from works of 
Art Avifhin very narrow bounds ; it is to seal up a foun- 
tain of the richest ])oetrv, and to slmt out a thousand 
ennoldino- and inspirinfr tlioughts. Happily there is a 
growing appreciation of these larger principles of criti- 
cism as applied to the study of Art. People look at the 
pictures which hang round their walls, and have an 
awakening suspicion that there is more in them than 
meets the eye, — more than mere connoisscin-sbip can 
interjiret ; and that they have another, a deeper, sig- 
nificance tban has been dreamed of by picture dealers 
and picture collectors, or even picture critics. 

II. Of the Distixctiox to be drawn betweex 
THE Devotional and the Historical Sub- 

At first, when entering on a subject so boundless and 
so diversified, we are at a loss for some leading classi- 
fication which shall be distinct and intelligible, Avithout 
being mechanical. It appears to me, that all sacred 
representations, in as far as they ai)peal to sentiment 
and imagination, resolve themselves into two great 
classes, which I shall call the devotional and the 

Devotional pictures are those which portray the ob- 
jects of our veneration with reference only to their sacred 
character, whether standing singly or in company with 
others. They place before us no action or event, real 
or supposed. They are neither portrait nor history. 
A grou]j of sacred personages, where no action is repre- 
sented, is called in Italian a "sacra conversazione" : the 
word conversazione, which signifies a society in which 
there is communion, being here, as it appears to me, 
used with peculiar propriety. All subjects, then, which 
exhibit to us sacred personages, alone or in groups, 



simply in the character of superior bein<;s, must be con- 
siilcred as di^i-otiumtllij treated. 

But a sacretl sui)ject, without losinfr whollv its reliir- 
ious import, becomes historical the moment it rejjre- 
sents any story, incident, or actiori, real or imagined. 
All i»icturcs which exliibit the events of Scripture story, 
all tiiose which express the acti(jns, miracles, and mar- 
tyrdoms of saints, come under this class; and to this 
distinction I niust call the attention of the reader, re- 
questing that it may be borne in mind tiiroughout this 

We must also recollect that a story, action, or fact 
maybe so represented as to become a symbol expressive 
of an abstract idea : and some Scriptural and some leg- 
endary subjects may be devoticjual or historical, accord- 
ing to tlr^ sentiment conveyed ; for example, the Cruci- 
fixion and the Last Supper may be so represented as 
either to exhil»it an event or to express a symbol of 
our Redemption. The raising of Lazarus exhibits, in 
the catacomljs, a mystical eml)lem of the general resur- 
rection ; in the grand picture by Sebastian del Pioinbo, 
in our National Gallery, it is a scene from the life of 
our Saviour. Among the legendary sul>jects, the pen- 
ance of the Magdalene, and St. Martin dividing his 
cloak, may be merely incidents, or they may be svm- 
bolical, the tirst of jjcni fence, the latter of charity, in 
the general sense. And, again, there are some sul)- 
jects wliich, though exjiressing a scene or an action, 
are icholhj mystical and devotional in their import ; 
as the vision of St. Augustine and the marriage of St. 

Among the grandest of the devotional subjects, we 
may reckon those compositions which represent the 
whole celestial hierarchy ; the divine personages of the 
Trinity, tiie angels and archangels, and the beatified 
spirits of the just. SulIi is the subject called the " Para- 
diso," so often met with in pictures and ecclesiastical 
decoration, where Christ is enthroned in glory : su:h 


is also the Coronation of the Vir<rin, that ancient and 
])0])ular synihol of the triumph of Religion or the 
Churcli; the Adoration of the Lanih; and the Last 
Judgment, from the Apocalypse. Tlie order of pre- 
cedence in these sacred assemldages was early settled 
by ecclesiastical authority, and was almost as ahsolute 
as that of a modern code of honor. First after the 
Trinity, the Virgin Mary, as Iiei/ina Amjelonim, and 
St. John the Baptist: then, in order, the Evangelists; 
the Patriarchs; the Prophets; the Apostles; the Fa- 
thers ; the I3isho])s ; the ^Martyrs ; tlie Hermits ; the 
Virgins ; the Monks, Nuns, and Confessors. 

As exaujples, I may cite tlie Paradiso of Angelico, 
in the Florence Academy ; the Coronation of the Vir- 
gin hy Hans Hemling, in the Wallerstein collection, 
■\vhirli contains not less than fifry-two figures, all indi- 
vidualized with tlieir [)roper attrihutes ; and which, if it 
Avere possilde, should be considered in contrast with the 
Coronation by Angelico. The Flemish painter seems 
to have carried his intense impression of earthly and 
individual life into the regions of heaven; the Italian, 
through a purer inspiration, seems to have brought all 
Paradise down before us upon earth. In the Adora- 
tion of the Lamb by Van Eyck, there are not fewer 
than two hundred figures. For the Last Judgment, 
the grand comjjositions of Orcagna in the Cau)po 
Santo, — of Luca Signorelli and Angelico at Orvieto, 
— and the fresco of Michael Augelo in the Sistine 
Chaijcl, may be consulted. 

Where the usual order is varied, there is generally 
some reason for it ; for instance, in the exaltation of a 
faA-orite saint, as we sometimes find St. Dominick and 
St. Francis by tlie side of St. Peter and St. Paul : and 
among the miniatures of that extraordinary MS., the 
Hortus Deliciarum, now at Strasbourg, painted for a 
virgin abbess, there is a " Paradiso " in which the 
painter, either by her command or in compliment 
to her, has placed the virgins immediately after the 


Tiic representation of the Virj^in and Child with 
sai.its p-oiijjcd aroiMd them, is a devotional subjctt 
laniiliar to us from its cousiaiit recurrence. It also 
frequently happjus t!iat the tutelary saint of the local- 
ity, or the patron saint of the votary, is represented as 
seated on a raised throne in the centre ; and other saints, 
tlioui^^h under every other circumstance takin-jc a supe- 
rior rank, become here accessaries, and are j)laocd on 
each side or lower down in the picture : for example, 
where St. Aui;ustinc is enthroned, and St. Peter and 
St. Paul stand on each side, as in a picture hy B. Vi- 
varini,* or where St. Barljara is enthroned, and Mary 
j\Li;j;dalene and St. Catherine suuul on each side, as in 
a ])icture by ]Matteo di Siena. t 

In such pictures, the votary or donor is often intro- 
duced kneelin-r at tlie feet of his patron, cither alone or 
accompanied hy his wife and other members of his 
family : and, to express the excess of his humility, he 
is sometimes so diminutive in in-oi>ortion to the colos- 
sal object of his veneration, as to be almost lost to 
sight; we have frequent examples of this 7uurcte of sen- 
timent in the old mosaics and votive altar-pieces ; for 
instance, in a beautiful old fresco at Assisi, where the 
Magdalene, a majestic figure about six feet liigh, liolds 
out her hand in benediction to a little Franciscan friar 
about a foot in height : but it was abandoned as bar- 
barous in the later schools of Art, and the votary, when 
retained, appears of the natural size ; as in the Madonna 
del Donatore of Kaphael,| where Sigisniond Conti is 
almost the finest and most striking part of that inesti- 
mable picture : and iu the Madonna of the Meyer fiunily 
by Holbein. § 

When a bishop is introduced into a group of saints 
knceUug, while all the others arc standing, he may be 
supposed to be the Dunalore or Divoto, the person who 
presents the picture. When he is standing, lie is one 
of the bishop-patrons or bishop-martyrs, of whom there 

* Venice ; SS. Giovanni e Paolo. | Rome ; Vatican, 

t Siena ; San Dominico. ^ Dresden Gal. 


are some hundreds, and Miio are more difficult to dis- 
criminate than any other pictured saints. 

And this leads me to the subject of the so-called an- 
achronisms in devotional subjects, -where personages wlio 
lived at different and distant periods of time are found 
grouped together. It is curious to find the critics of 
the lust century treating ■with pity and ridicule, as the 
result of ignorance or a barbarous unformed taste, the 
noblest and most spiritual conceptions of poetic art. 
Even Sir Joshua Reynolds had so little idea of the true 
object and feeling of such reifresentations, that he thinks 
it necessary to apologize for the error of the ]jainter, or 
the mistaken piety of his employei*. We must remem- 
ber that the personages here brought together in their 
sacred character belong no more to our earth, but to 
heaven and eternity : for them there is no longer time 
or place ; they are here assembled together in the per- 
petual " communion of saints," — immortal contem- 
poraries in that kingdom where the Angel of the Apoc- 
alypse proclaimed " that there should be time no 

Such groups are sometimes arranged with an artless 
solemnity, all the personages standing and looking 
straight out of the picture at the worshipper. Some- 
times there is a touch of dramatic sentiment, which, 
Avithout interl'cring with the solemn devotional feeling, 
hghts up the whole with the charm of a purpose : as in 
the Correggio at Parma, where St. Jerome presents his 
translation of the Scriptures to the infant Christ, while 
an angel turns the leaves, and Mary Magdalene, sym- 
bol of redemption and reconciUation, bends to kiss the 
feet of the Saviour. 

Our ancestors of the middle ages were not particular 
in drawing that strong line of demarcation between 
the classical, Jewish, and Christian periods of history, 
that we do. They saw only Christendom everywhere ; 
they regarded the past only in relation to Christianity. 


Hence we find in the early ecclesiastical monuments 
and edifices such a stranf^e assembla;Lre of pagan, Scrip- 
tural, and Christian worthies ; as, Hector of Troy, 
Alexander the Great, Kinj,' David, Judas ^Iaccal)eus, 
\\\\vj: Arthur, St. George, Godfrey of Boulogne, Lu- 
cretia, Virginia, Judith, St. Elizabeth, St. Bridjret (as 
in the Cross of Nuremberg). In the curious Manual 
of Greek Art, published by Didron, we find the Greek 
philosophers and poets entering into a scheme of eccle- 
siastical decoration, as in the carved stalls in the Cathe- 
dral of Ulm, where Solon, Apollonius, Plutarch, Plato, 
Sophocles, are represented, holding each a scroll, on 
which is inscribed a passage from their works, inter- 
preted into an allusion to the coming of Christ : and I 
have seen a picture of the Nativity in which the sibyls 
arc dancing hand-in-hand around the cradle of the new- 
born Saviour. This may appear profone to some, but 
the comprehension of the wiiole universe within the 
pale of Clu'istianity strikes me as being in the mosC 
ci^tholic, as well as in the most poetical, spirit. 

It is in devotional subjects tlftt we commonly fiufl 
tliose anthropomorphic representations of the Divinity 
Avhich shock devout j^eople ; and which no excuse or 
argument can render endurable to those who see in them 
only ignorant irreverence, or intentional profaucness. 
It might be pleaded that the profaneness is not inten- 
tional ; that emblems and forms are, in the imitative 
arts, what figures of speech are in language ; that only 
througli a figure of speech can any attempt be made to 
place the idea of Almighty Power before us. Pamiliar 
expressions, consecrated by Scripture usage, represent 
thit, Deity as reposing, waking, stretching forth his 
hand, sitting on a throne; as pleased, angry, A-engeful, 
repentant ; and the ancient painters, speaking the lan- 
guage proper to their art, appear to have turned these 
emblematical words into emblematical pictures. I for- 
bear to say moi*e on this point, because I have taken 
throughout the poetical and not the religious view of 


Art, and this is an objection which must be left, as a 
matter of feeUng, to the amount of candor and knowl- 
edge in the critical reader. 

In the sacred subjects, pi-opevly called historical, 
we must be careful to distinguish between those which 
are Scriptural, representing scenes from the Old or Kew 
Testament, and those which are Legendary. 

Of the first, for the present, I do not speak, as they 
will be fully treated hereafter. 

The historical su1)jects from the lives of the saints 
consist principally of Miracles and JMartyrdoms. 

In the first, it is worth remarking that we have no 
pictured miracle which is not imitated from the Old or 
the New Testament (unless it be an obvious emblem, 
as where the saint carries his own head). There is no 
act of supernatural ]»ower related of any saint which is 
not recorded of some great Scriptural jjcrsonage. The 
object wai5 to represent the favorite patron as a copy of 
the great universal type of beneficence, Christ our 
Redeemer. And tl;ey were not satisfied that the re- 
semblance should lid* in character only ; but should 
emulate the power of Christ in his visible actions. We 
must remember that the common people of the middle 
ages did not, and could not, distinguish between mira- 
cles accredited l)y the testimony of Scripture, and those 
which were fabrications, or at least exaggcnitions. All 
miracles related as divine interpositions were to them 
equally possible, equally credible. If a more extended 
knowledge of the natural laws renders us in these days 
less credulous, it also sliows us that many things were 
possible, under particular conditions, which were long 
deemed supernatural. 

We find in the legendary pictures that the birth of 
several saints is announced by an angel, or in a dream, 
as in the stories of St. Catherine, St. Koch, &c, Tliey 
cxhil)it precocious piety and wisdom, as in the stor}'^ of 
St. Nicholas, who also calms a tempest, and guides the 



storm-tossed vessel safe to land. Thoy walk on the 
water, as in the stories of St. Raymond and St. Hy- 
acintli ; or a river divides, to let thein pass, as in the 
story of St. All)au. Saints are fed and comforted mirac- 
ulously, or delivered from jn-ison by angels ; or resist 
fire, like the "Three Children." The multiplication 
of bread, and the transformation of water iiUo wine, 
are standing miracles. But those which most fre(iueiuly 
occur in pictures, are the healing of the sick, the lame, 
the blind ; the casting out of demons, the restoration 
of the dead, or some ocher manifestation of compassion- 
ate and beneficent power. 

Some of the pictured legends arc partly Scriptural, 
partly historical, as the story of St. Peter ; others arc 
clearly religions apologues founded on fact or tradition, 
as those of St. Mary of Egypt and St. Christoplier ; 
others arc obviously and i)urcly allegorical, as the 
Greek story of St. So])hia (i.e. Heavenly Wisdom, 
20*IA) and her celestial progeny, St. Faith, St. Hope, 
ajid St. Charity, all martyred by the blind and cruel 
pagans. The names sound as if borrowed from the 
Pilgrim's Progress ; and it is curious to find Bunyaii's 
allegorical legend, the favorite picture-book of the' peo- 
ple, appearing just at the time when the legends and 
pictures of the saints became objects of puritanical 
horror, and supplying their place in the popular imagi- 

JNtartyrdoms are only too common : they present to 
us Christianity under its most mystical aspect, — the 
deification of suffering ; l)ut to render these represen- 
tatioAs effective, they should be pathetic without being 
terrible, they should speak to us 

" Of melancholy fear subdued by faith, 
Of blfss;3d consolations ia distress " ; 

but not of the horrid cruelty of man towards man. It 
lias been well remarked by uiy friend M. Rio (to whose 
charming and eloquent exposition of Christian Art I 


refer -with ever -new delight), that the early painters of 
Western Christendom avoided these subjects, and that 
their prevalence in ecclesiastical decoration marked the 
decline of rehgious feeling, and the degeneracy of Art. 
But this remark does not apply to Byzantine Art ; for 
we find from the exact description of a picture of the 
martyrdom of St. Eupheniia (both the picture and the 
description dating from the third century), that such rep- 
resentations were then common, and were appealed to 
in the same manner as now, to excite the feelings of 
the people. 

The martyrdoms generally met with are those of 
St, Peter and St. Paul, St. Stephen Protomartyr, St. 
Laurence, St. Catherine, and St. Sebastian. These we 
find everywhere, in all countries and localities. Where 
the patron of the church or chapel is a martyr, his 
martyrdom holds a conspicuous place, often over 
the high altar, and accompanied by all the moving 
circumstances which can excite the pity or horror 
or enthusiasm of "the pious votaries ; but in the best 
examples we find the saint prej)aring for his death, 
not suffering the torments actually inflicted ; so that 
the mind is elevated by the sentiment of his courage, 
not disturbed and disgusted by the spectacle of his 

III. Or CERTAIN Patron Saints, 

Who are commonly grouped togrther in JVoi'Jcs of Art, or 
icho belong to particular Countries, Cities, or Local- 

While such assemljlages of holy persons as are 
found grouped togetlier in devotional pictures are to be 
considered as quite independent of chronology, we shall 
find that the selection has been neither capric-ious nor 
arbitrary, and, with a little consideration, we shall dis- 
cover the leading idea in the mind of the artist, — that. 


at least, wliich was intended to be conveyed to the 
mind of the s])ectator, and which was much more intel- 
lif'ible in former times than it is now. 

SometinicH we lind certain saints placed in com- 
panionship, because they are the joint patrons and pro- 
tectors of the city or locality for wliich the picture was 
painted. Thus in the Jiolo,<;na pictures we constantly 
find the bishop St. Tctrouius, St. Eloy, St. Domiuick, 
and the warrior St. Proculus ; while in the Venetian 
pictures we have perpetual St. Marks, St. Georges, and 
St. Catherines. 

Or, secondly, they are connected by kindred powei-s 
and attributes. Thus we find St. Sebastian, the patron 
against pestilence, in company with St. Roch, who min- 
istered to the sick of the plague. Thus St. Catherine 
and St. Jerome, the two patrons of school theology, are 
often found in companionship. Where St. Catherine 
and St. Barbara are found together, the first figures as 
patroness of the ecclesiastical, and the second of the 
military, power, — or they represent respectively the 
contemplative and the active life. 

Or, thirdly, they are combined in the fancy by some 
inevitable association ; as St. Augustine and St. Stephen 
are often in the same picture, because St. Augustine 
dedicated some of his most eloquent works to the glory 
of the martyr. 

Or they were friends on earth, for which reason St. 
Cyprian and St. Cornelius are placed together. 

Or their relics repose in the same spot ; whence St. 
Stephen and St. Laurence have become almost insepa- 
rable. "When St. Vincent and St. Laurence are placed 
together (as in a lovely composition of Parmigiano, 
where they sit reading out of the same book) it is be- 
cause of the similarity of their fate, and that the popular 
tradition supposed them to be brothers. 

A point of more general importance, and capable of 
more definite explanation, is the predominance of cer- 
tain sacred personages in particular schools of Art. 


St. Cosmo and St. Damian, for instance, are pei-petu- 
ally recurring in the Eiorentine pictures as the patron 
saints of the Medici family. In the Lombard pictures 
St. Ambrose is often found without Ids compeers, — not 
as doctor of the Church, but as bishop of Milan. In 
the Siena pictm-es, we may look for the nun St. CatJie- 
rine of Siena, and St. Ansano, the apostle of the 
Sienese, holding his banner and palm. And in the 
Augustine chapels and churches, St. Augustine figures, 
not as doctor of the Church, but as patriarch of the 

A bishop-martyr, holding his palm, and not other- 
wise designated either bv name or attribute, would be 
— in one of Perugino's pictures, St. Ercolano or St. 
Costanzo ; in a Florentine picture, St. Donato or St. 
Eomulo ; if the picture were painted in the March of 
Ancona, it would probably be St. Apollinaris of Ra- 
venna ; at Naples it would be St. Januarius ; at Paris, 
or in a picture painted for a French church, of wliich 
there are many in Italy, it would be St. Denis ; and in 
German prints, St. Boniface or St. Lambert. I need 
not further multiply examples. 

If the locality from which the picture came Avill 
sometimes determine the names of the personages, so 
the personages represented will often explain the pui'- 
pose and intended situation of the picture. There is in 
Lord Ashburton's gallery a noble group representing 
together St. Peter, St. Leonard, St. Martha, and Mary 
Magdalene. Such a combination points it out at once 
as intended for a charitable institution, and, on inquiry, 
we find that it was painted for the ch.apei of a brother- 
hood associated to redeem prisoners, to r'ansom slaves, 
to work for the poor, and to convert the sinner to 
repentance. Many such interesting and instructive 
analogies will be pointed out in the course of the fol- 
lowing pages, and the observer of works of art will 
discover others for himself. 

I add here, in alphabetical order, those countries and 


localities of which the pati'ou saiuts arc distinguished 
ill worlds ut" Art.* 

Ancoxa: St. Cyriacus, Bishop; and his mother Annn, 
Mart Iff. 

Akkzzo: St. Donato, Bishop. 

AsTi, NovAKA, and all through the cities of Piedmont 
and the north of Italy, we find the Warrior, St. ^hiurice, 
find his companions St. Secundus, St. Alexander, and the 
other JIartyrs of the Theban Legion. 

Augsbukg: St. Ulrich, Bishop; St. Afra, Martyr. 

Austkia: St. Leopold, St. Stephen, St. Maximilian, St. 

Bamuekg: St. Henry and St. Cunegunda, Emperor and 

BAncKi.ONA: St. Eulalia, Martyr. (In Spanish pic- 
tures only.) 

Bavauia: St. George, Martyr. 

Bergamo: St. Alexander, Warrior; St. Grata, Widoio. 

Bohemia: St. John Xepomuck, Priest; St. Wenees- 
laus, King; St. Ludmillii, Queen; St. Vitus, y/ourtr/ Mar- 
tyr; St. Procopius, Uerinit. 

Bologna: St. Petron ins, 5is/iop; St. Dominic, i^/'iar ; 
St. Proculus, Warrior Martyr; St. ^\oy (EX'xgiO), Bishop 
and Smith. 

Biiescia: St. Faustinus and Jovita; St. Julia, St. Afra, 

Bruges: St. John the Baptist. 

Burgundy : St. Andrew, Apostle. 

Cologne: The Three Kings; St. Ursula, Virgin Mar- 
tyr ; St. Gereon, Warrior Martyr. 

Como: St. Abbondio, Bishop. 

Cortona: St. Margaret, Nun and Penitent. 

Cremona: St. Omobuono, Secular Habit. 

Fehrara: St. Geminiano, 5tsAo/>; St. George, J/ar<^?' ; 
St. Barbara, Martyr. 

* The Saints who do not appear in these volumes will be found 
in the " Le-reuds of the Monastic Orders." 


Fiesole: St. Eomolo, Bishop. 

Florence: St. John the Baptist; St. Zenobio, St. An- 

tonino, /)/.-/, OyS; St. Keparata, llifjin Mariijr ; St. Cosmo 

and Damiau (the Apothecary Sauits, especial patrons of 

the Medici family); St. Verdiana, Nun; St. Miniato. 


Frasck: St. Michael, Angel; St. Dionysius (Denis), 
Bislioj) ; St. Genevieve, Virgin ; St, ]\Iartiii, Bishop. 

Gexoa: St. George, St. Laiirence, Martyrs. 

Ghent : St. Bavon, Prince and IlermiL 

Geenoble: St. Hugh the Carthusian. 

Ii:elaxu: St. Patrick, Bishop; St. Bridget, Abbess. 

Lucca : St. Martin, Bishop ; St. Frediano, Priest ; St. 
Zita, Virgin. 

Liege : St. Hubert, Bishop and Huntsman ; St. Lambert, 

]\L^drid: St. Isidore, Laborer; St. Dominick, Friar 
(Patron of the Escurial, St Laurence). 

:\Iantua: St. Andi-ew; St. Barbara; St. George, and 
St. Longinus, Wariior Saints. 

Marseilles and all Proyexce: St. Lazarus; St. Mary 
JLagdalen; St. Martha; St. iMarcella. 

;Messixa: St. Agatha, Martyr. 

Milan: St. Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor; St. Gerva- 
sms and St. Protasius, Martyrs ; St. Maurice, St. Victor, 

]\Iodexa: St. Geminiano, Bishop. (In pictures of the 
Correggio school.) 

Naples: St. Januarius. Martyr. 

Novara : St. Gaudenzio, Bishop. 

Kuremburg: St. Laurence, Martyr; St. Sebald, PiZ- 
grim and Hermit. (The latter an important person in pic- 
tures and prints of the Albert Diirer school.) 

Padua: St. Anthony of Padua, Friar. 

Paris: St. Genevieve, Mr gin ; St. Germain, Bishop; 
St. Hippolitus, Martyr. 

Parma: St. John, B.; St. Thomas the Apostle; St. 
Bernard, Monk; St. Hilary (Ilaino), Bishop. 


Perugia: St Ercolano and St. Costanzo, Bishops. 

Piacexza: St. Justina, Jiar/yr ; St. Antoninus, War- 
rior (Tliebun Leijion). 

Piedmont and Savoy: St. John, B. : St. Maurice and 
St. George, Warriors ; St. Amadeu?, King. 

Pisa: St. Ranieri, Hermit; St. Torpe, Warrior; St. 
Ephesus and St. Potita, Warriors. (These only in the 
ancient Pisan school.) 

Pavenxa: St. ApoUinaris, Bishop. 

Ruiixi: St. Julian, Marlyr. (A young saint, popular 
all through the north and down the east coast of Italy.) 

Seville: St. Leander, Bishop ; St. Justina, St. Rufina, 
Sisters and Martyrs. (These are only found in Spanish 

Sicily: St. Vitus, ^fartyr ; St. Rosalia. Recluse (Pa- 
lermo); St. Agatha (Messina), St. Lucia (Syracuse), 

Siena: St. Ansano, Martyr; St. Catherine of Siena, 
Nun ; St. Bernardino, Friar. 

Thukingia and all that part of Saxony: St. Elizabeth 
of Hungary; St. Boniface, Bishop. 

Toledo: St. Ildefonso, Bishop ; and St. Leocadia, Mar- 
tyr. (Only in Spanish pictures.) 

Tkeviso: St. Liberale, Warnor. 

Tuhin: St. John the Baptist; St. Maurice, Warrior. 

Umciua: All through this region and the eastern coast 
of Italy, very important in respect to art, the favorite 
Saints are: St. Nicholas. Bishop; St. Francis of As^isi, 
Friar ; St. Clara, Xun ; St. Julian, Martyr ; and St. 
Catherine, Virgin Martyr. 

Valencia: St. Vincent, Martyr. 

Venice, St. Mark, Apostle ; St. George, St. Theodore, 
Warriors ; St. Nicholas, Bishoj) ; St. Catherine, St. Chris- 
tina, Virgin Martyrs. 

Vercellt: St. Eusebius, 5*5Ao/) ,• St. Thronestus, War- 
rior (Theban Legion). 

Vekona: St. Zeno, Bishop; St. Fermo, Martyr; St. 
Euphemia, Martyr. 


Votive Pictures are those which have been dedi- 
cated in certain reU^ious edifices, in fulfilment of vows ; 
either as the expression of thaukspviniz: for blessings 
which have been vouchsafed, or propitiatiA'e against 
calamities to be averted. Tiie far greater number of 
these pictures commemorate an escape from danger, 
sickness, death ; and more especially, some visitation 
of the plague, that terrible and frequent scourge of the 
middle ages. The significance of such pictui^es is gen- 
erally indicated by the presence of St, Sebastian or St 
Roch, the patrons against the plague ; or St. Cosmo 
and St. Dumian, the healing and medical saints ; ac- 
companied by the patron saints of the country or local- 
ity, if it be a public act of devotion ; or, if dedicated 
by private or individual piety, the donor kneels, pre- 
sented by his own patron saint. In general, though 
not always, this expressive group is arranged in at- 
tendance on the enthroned Madonna and her divine 
Son, as the universal protectors from all evil. Such 
pictures are among the most interesting and remarka- 
l;le of the works of Sacred Art which remain to us, 
and have often a pathetic and poetical beauty, and an 
historical significance, which it is a chief purpose of 
these volumes to interpret and illustrate. 

IV. Of certain Emblems axd Attributes. 

To know something of the attributes and emblems of 
general application, as well as those proper to each 
saint, is absolutely necessaiy ; Init it will also greatly 
assist the fancy and the memory to understand their 
origin and significance. For this reason I will add a 
few words of cxplaiiation. 

The Glory, Nimbus, or Aureole — the Christian 
attribute of sanctity, and used generally to distinguish 
all holy personages — is of pagan origin. It expressed 


tliti luminous nebula (Homer, 1\. xxiii. 205) supposed to 
emanate from, and siirroinid, the Divine Ess'>.Mice, wliich 
slood "a shade in midsc of its own hri;j:htuess." Iin- 
aci'es of the u^ods were decorated with a crown of ra^s, 
or wirh stars ; and when the Konian emperors assumed 
the Iionors due to divinity, tliey ai)poared in public 
crowned with ji^olden radii. The colossal statue of 
Nero wore a circle of rays, imitatinc; the glory of the 
sun. This ornament became customary ; and not only 
the first Civsars, but the Christian emperors, adopted 
the same divine insi<;nia ; and it became at length so 
common that we find it on some medals, round the 
heads of the consuls of the later empire. Considered 
in the East as the. attribute of power only, whether good 
or evil, wc find, wherever early Art has been developed 
under Byzantine influences, the nimbus thus a])plied. 
Satan, in many Greek, Saxon, and French miniatures, 
from the ninth to tlic thirteenth century, wears a glory. 
In a psalter of die twelfth century, the Beast of the 
Apocalypse with seven heads has six heads surrounded 
by the niml)us ; the seventh, wounded and drooping, 
is without the sign of power. 

But in Western Art the associations with this attri- 
bute were not merelv those of dignity, but of some- 
thing divine and consecrated. It was for a long time 
avoided in the Christian representations as being ap- 
propriated by false gods or heathen jjride ; and when 
first adopted does not seem clear.* The earliest exam- 
ple cited is a gem of St. Martin, of the early part of 
the sixth centurv, in which the glorv round his head 
seems to represent his apotheosis ; and in all instances 
it is evidently intended to represent divine glory and 

The glory round the head is properly the nimbus or 
aureole. The oblong glory surrounding the whole 
person, called in Latin the vesica piscis, and in Italian 

* " Avant le 5me siccle le nimbe Chretien ne se voit pas sur les 
Monuments authentiques." — Didron, Iconograpfiie^ p. 101. 


the mandorla (almond), from its form, is confined to 
fip^ures of Christ and the Virgin, or saints who are in 
the act of ascending into heaven. When used lo dis- 
tinguish one of the three divine persons of tlie Triiiiiy 
the glory is often cruciform or trianguhir. The square 
nimbus designates a person living at the time the work 
was executed. In the frescos of Giotto at Assisi the 
allegorical personages are in some instances distin- 
guished by the hexagonal nimbus. In other instances 
it is circular. From the fifth to the twelfth century 
the nimbus had the form of a disc or plate over the 
head.* From the twelfth to tlie fifteenth century, it 
was a broad golden band round, or rather behind, the 
head, composed of circle Avithin circle, often adorned 
with precious stones, and sometimes having the name 
of the saint inscribed •within it. From the fifteenth 
century it was a bright fillet over the head, and in the 
seventeenth century it disappeared altogether. In pic- 
tures the glory is always golden, the color of light ; in 
miniatures and stained glass I have seen glories of va- 
rious colors, red, blue, or green. f 

The Fish was the earliest, the most universal, of the 
Christian emblems, partly as the symbol of water and 
the rite of baptism, and also because the five Greek let- 
ters which express the word Fish form the anagram of 

* A metal circle, like a round plate, was fastened on the head 
of those statues placed in the open air, to defend tlieiu from the 
rain or dust. Some of the ancient glories are very like those 
plates, but I do not think they are derived from them. 

t I believe these colored glories to be symbolical, but am not 
sure of the application of the colors. Among the miniatures of 
the Hortus Deliciarum, painted in 1180, is a representation of 
the celestial paradise, in which the virgins, the apostles, the 
martyrs, and confessors wear the golden nimbus ; the prophets 
and the patriarchs, the white or silver nimbus 5 the saints who 
strove with temptation, the red nini1)us ; those who were married 
have the nimbus green, while the beatified penitents have theirs 
of a yellowish white, somewhat shaded. — Dideox, Iconographie 
Chritienne, p. 168. 



the name of Jesus Christ. In this sense we find the 
fish as a general symbol of the Christian faitli upon 
the sarcophai^i of the early Christians ; on the tonil)S 
of the martyrs in tlie catacoml)s ; on rin^^s, coins, lam])S, 
and other utensils ; and as an ornament in early Chris- 
tian architecture. It is usually a dolpliin, which among 
the Pagans had also a sacred signitic-ancc. 

Tiic passage in tlie Gospel, " Follow me, and I will 
make ye fishers of men," is supposed to have originated 
the use of this symbol ; and I may observe here, tliat 
tlie fish placed in the hands of St. Peter lias probal)ly 
a double or treble signification, alluding to his former 
occupation as a fisherman, his conversion to Chris- 
tianity, and his vocation as a Christian apostle, i. c. a 
fisher of men, in the sense used by Christ ; and in the 
same sense we find it given as an attribute to bishops 
who were famous for convertinir and baptizing, as St. 
Zeuo of Verona, and Gregory of Tours. 

The Cross. — About the tenth century the Fish dis- 
appeared, and the Cross — symbol of our redemptioji, 
from the a])OStolic times — became the sole and univer- 
sal emblem of the Christian faith. The cross placed 
in the hand of a saint is usually the Latin cross (1), the 
form ascribed to the cross on which our Saviour suf- 
fered. Other crosses are used as emblems or ornaments, 
but still having the same signification ; as the Greek, 
cross (2), in which the arms are all of the same length ; 




the transverse cross, on which St. Andrew is supposed 
to have suffered, in this form (3) ; the Egyptian cross, 
sometimes placed in the hands of St. Philip the apostle, 
and it was also the form of the crutch of St. Anthony, 


and embroidered on his cope or robe, — hence it is 
called St. Anthony's cross (4). There is also the Mal- 
tese cross, and various ornamental crosses. The double 
cross on the top of a staff, instead of the crosier, is 
borne by the Pope only ; the staff with a single cross, 
by the Greek bishops. 

At first the cross was a siirn only. When formed of 
gold or silver, the five Mounds of Christ were signified 
bv a rul)v or carbuncle at each cxtremitv, and one in 
the centre. It was not till the sixth century that the 
cross became a Crucifix, no longer an emblem, but 
an image. 

The Lamb, in Christian Art, is the peculiar symbol 
of the Redeemer as the sacrifice without blemish : in 
this sense it is given as an attriliute to John the Baptist. 
The lamb is also the general emblem of innocence, 
meekness, modesty ; in this sense it is given to St. 
Ao-nes, of whom Massillon said so beautit'ullv, " Peu 
de pudeur, ou il n'y a pas de religion ; peu de religion, 
oil il n'y a pas de pudeur." 

The Pelicax, tearing open her breast to feed her 
vounc: with her own l)lood, was an earlv symbol of our 
redemption through Christ. 

One or both of tliese emblems are frequently found 
in ancient crosses and crucifixes ; the lamb at the foot, 
the pelican at the top, of the cross. 

The Dragox is the emblem of sin in general, and 
of the sin of idolatry in particular; and tlie dragon slain 
or vanquished by the power of the cross, is the per- 
petually recurring myth, which, varied in a thousand 
ways, we find running tlirough all the old Christian 
legends : not subject to misa])prehension in the earliest 
times ; but, as the cloud of ignorance darkened and 
deepened, the symbol was translated into a fact. It 
has been suggested that the dragon, which is to us a 
phantasm and an allegory, which in the middle ages was 


the visible shape of the demon adversary of all truth and 
goodness, mijriit have been, as regards form, oriirinally 
a fact : for wbercver we have drairon legends, whetber 
the scene bo laid in Asia, Africa, or Europe, the im- 
puted circumstances and the form are little varied. 
The dragons introduced into early painting and sculp- 
ture so invariably repi-escnt a gigantic winged crocodile, 
that it is presumed there must have been some common 
origin for the type chosen as if by common consu-nt ; 
and that tliis common type may have been some fossil 
remains of the Saurian species, or even some far-off 
dim tradition of one of these tremendous reptiles sur- 
viving in Heaven knows what vast desolate morass or 
inland lake, and spreading horror and devastation along 
its shores. At Aix, a huge fossilized head of one of 
the Sauri was for a long time preserved as the head of 
the identical dragon sul)dued In- St. Martlia ; and St. 
Jerome relates tliat he had himself beheld at Tyre the 
bones of tlie sea monster to which Andromeda had 
been exposed, — probably some fossil remains which in 
the popular imagination were thus accounted for. Pro- 
fessor Owen told me that the head of a dragon in one 
of the legendary pictures he had seen in Italy closely 
resembled in form that of the Demotherium Giganteum. 
These observations have reference only to the tvpe 
adopted when the old Scrii)ture allegory took form 
and shape. The dragon of Holy Writ is the same as 
the serpent, i. e. personilied sin, the spiritual enemy of 

The Scriptural phrase of the "jaws of hell " is liter- 
ally rendered in the ancient works of art by the huge 
jaws of a dragon, wide open and emitting flames, into 
which the souls of sinners are tumbled headlong. In 
pictures, sin is also typified by a serpent or snake ; in 
this form it is placed under the feet of the Madonna, 
sometimes with an apple in its mouth ; sometimes, but 
only in late pictures, of the seventeenth century, wind- 
ing its green, scaly length round and round a globe, 
significant of the subjugation of the whole earth to the 



power of sin till delivered by the Eedeemer. On this 
subject I shall have much more to say when treating 
ol" the pictures of the fall of man, and the sul)jects 
taken from the Apocalypse : for the present we need 
only bear in mind the various significations of the pop- 
ular Dragon myth, which may shadow forth the con- 
quest over sin, a& in the legends of St. Michael and 
St. Margaret; or over paganism, as in the legends of 
St. Sylvester and St. George ; or sometimes a destroy- 
ing flood, as in the legend of St. Martha, where th& 
inundation of the Khone is figured by a dragon emerge 
ing from the waters and spreading around death and 
pestilence, — like the Python of the Grecian myth. 

The LiON", as an ancient Christian symbol, is of fre- 
quent recurrence, more particularly in architectural 
decoration. Anti(juaries are not agreed as to the exact 
meaning attached to the mystical lions placed in the 
porches of so many old Lombard churches ; sometimes 
•with an animal, sometimes with a man, in their paws. 
But we find that the lion was an ancient symbol of the 
Redeemer, " the Lion of the tribe of Judah " ; also of 
the resurrection of the Redeemer ; because, according 
to an Oriental fable, the lion's cub was born dead, and 
in three davs its sire licked it into life. Li this sense it 
occurs in the windows of the cathedral at Bourges. In 
either sen,se it may probably haxc been adopted as a 
frequent ornament in the church utensils, and in eccle- 
siastical decoration, sujiporting the pillars in front, or 
the carved thrones, &e. 

The lion also typifies solitude — the wilderness ; 
and, in this sense, is placed near St. Jerome and other 
saints who did penance, or lived as hermits in the 
desert ; as in the legends of St. Paul the hermit, St. 
Mary of Egypt, St. Onofrio. Further, the lion as an 
attribute denoted death in the amphitheatre, and wiih 
this signification is placed near certain martyrs, as St. 
Ignatius and St. Euphemia. The lion, as the type of 
fortitude and resolution, was placed at the feet of those 


martyrs who hail suffered with singular courage, as St. 
Adrian and St. NataHa.* 

When otlicr wild beasts, as wolves and bears, *re 
placed at the feet of a saint attired as abbot or bishop, 
it signifies that he cleared waste land, cut down forests, 
and substituted Ciiristian culture and civilization for 
paganism and the lawless hunter's life : such is the sig- 
nihcance in pictures of St. Magnus, St. Florentius, and 
St. Germain of Auxerre. 

The Hart or Hixd was also an emblem of double 
signification. It was a type of solitude and of purity 
of life, and was also a type of piety and religious as- 
piration, adopted from the forty-second Psalm, " Like 
as the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so imnteth 
my soul for thee, O God ! " 

When the original meaning of the lion, the hart, and 
otiier emblems, was no longer ))rcsent to the jtopular 
mind, legends were invented to account for them ; and 
that which had been a symbol, became an incident, or 
an historical attribute, — as in the stories of the lion 
healed by St. Jerome, or digging the grave of St. 
Paul ; the miraculous stag which appeared to St. Eu- 
stace and St. Hubert; the wounded doe in the legend 
of St. Giles ; and the hind which spoke to St. Julian. 

The Peacock, the bird of Juno, was an ancient 
pagan symbol, signifying the apotheosis of an empress, 
as we find from many of the old Roman coins and 
medals. The early Christians, accustomed to this in- 
terpretation, adopted it as a general emblem of the 
mortal exchanged for the immortal existence ; and, 
with this signification, we find tlie peacock with out- 
spread train on tlie walls and ceilings of catacombs, the 
tombs of the martyrs, and many of the sarcophagi, 

* In the example of St. Jerome, a lion may have orijrinally 
typified any Liuderaiice in the way of study or of duty ; in allu- 
sion to the text, "The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the 
way." Prov. xxvi. 13. 



down to the fourth and fifth centuries. It is only in 
modern times that the peacock has become the emblem 
o^ worldly pride. 

The Crown, as introduced in Christian Art, is 
either an emblem or an attribute. It has been the 
emblem from all antiquity of victory, and of recom- 
pense due to superior power or virtue. In this sense 
the Avord and the image are used in Scripture in many 
passages : for example, " Henceforth there is laid up 
for me a crown of glory." And in this sense, as tlie 
recompense of those who had fought the good fight to 
the end, and conquered, the crown became the especial 
symljol of the glory of martyrdom. In very ancient 
pictures, a hand is seen coming out of heaven holding 
a wreath or circlet ; afterwards it is an angel who de- 
scends with the crown, which is sometimes a coronet 
of gold and jewels, sometimes 'a Mreath of jialm or 
myrtle. In general only the female martyrs wear the 
syml)olical crown of glory ; martyrs of the other sex 
hold the crown in their hands, or it is borne by an 
angel. Hence we may presume that the crown, which 
among. the Jews was the especial ornament of a l)ride, 
signitied the bride or spouse of Christ — one dedicated 
to virginity for his sake ; and in this sense, down to 
the present time, the crown is placed on tlie head of a 
nun at the moment of consecration. Therefore in the 
old pictures of female martyrs we may interpret the 
crown in this double sense, as signifying at once the 
bride and the martyr. 

But it is necessary also to distinguish between the 
symbol and the attribute: thus, where St. Cecilia and 
St. Barbara Avear the crown, it is the symbol of their 
glorious martyrdom ; when St. Catherine and St. Ur- 
sula wear the crown, it is at once as the symbol of 
martvrdom and the attribute of their roval rank as 

The crown is also the svmbol of sovereignty. When 
it is placed on the head of the Virgin, it is as Queen 



of Heaven, ami also as the " Spouse " of Scripture 

But the crown is also an attribute, and frequently, 
when worn hy a saint or placed at his feet, signifies 
that lie was royal or of princely birth: as in the pic- 
tures of Louis of France, St. William, St. Elizabeth, 
St. Helena, and many others. 

The crowns in the Italian pictures are generally a 
wreath, or a simple circle of gold and jewels, or a cor- 
onet radiated with a ^cw points. But in the old Ger- 
man pictures the crown is often of most magnificent 
workmanship, blazing with jewels. 

I iiave seen a real silver crown placed on the figures 
of certain popular saints, but as a votive tribute, not au 

Tiie Sword is also either a symbol or an attribute. 
As a symbol it siguilies generally martyrdom by any 
violent death, and, ia this sense, is given to many saints 
who did not die by the sword. As an attribute it sig- 
niries the particular death suffered, and that the martyr 
in wliosc hand or at whose feet it is |)laced was behead- 
ed : in this sense it is given to St. Paul, St. Catherine, 
and many others. It is given also to the warrior-mar- 
tyrs, as the attribute of their military profession. Other 
symbols of martyrdom are the Axe, the Laxce, and 
the Club. 

Arrows, which arc attributes, St. Ursula, St. Chris- 
tina, and St. Sebastian. 

The PoxiARD, given to St. Lucia. 

The Caldron, given to St. John the Evangelist 
and St. Cecilia. 

The Pincers and Shears, St. ApoUonia and St. 

The Wheels, St. Catherine. 


Fire and Flames are sometimes an emblem of mar 
tyrdoni and ijunishment, and sometimes of religious 

A Bell was supposed to have power to exorcise 
demons, and for this reason is given to the haunted 

St. Antony. 

The Shell signifies pilgrimage. 

The Skull, penance. 

Tlie Anvil, as an attribute of mart3'rdom, belongs 
to St. Adrian only. 

The Palm, the ancient classical symbol of victory 
and ti-iumj)h, was early assumed by the Christians as 
the universal symbol of martyrdom, and for this adap- 
tation of a pagan ornament they found warrant in 
Scripture: Rev. vii. 9, "And after this I beheld, and, 
lo, a great multitude stood before the throne clothed 

with white robes and with palms in their hands 

And he said to me. These are they which came out 
of great tribulation." Hence in pictures of martyr- 
doms an angel descends with the palm ; hence it is fig- 
ured on the tombs of early martyrs, and placed in the 
hands of those who suffered in the cause of truth, as 
expressing their final victory over the powers of sin and 

"The sensual think with reverence of the palm 
Which the chaste votary wields." 

The palm varies in form from a small leaf to the 
size of a palm branch, almost a tree. It is very small 
in the early Italian pictures, very large in the Spanish 
pictures. In the Siena pictures it has a bunch of dates 
depending from it. It is only in late pictures that the 
palm, with a total disregard to the sacredness of its 
original signification, is placed on the ground, or under 
the feet of the saint. 


The Standaud, or banner, is also the symbol of 
victory, the spiritual victory over sin, death, and idola- 
try. It is borne l)y our Saviour after bis resurrection, 
and is placed in the hands of ISr. George, St. Maurice, 
and other military saints ; in the hands of some victo- 
rious martyrs, as St. Julian, St. Ansano, and of those 
who preached the Gosi)el among intidels; also in the 
hands of St. Ursula and Sr. Reparata, the only female 
saints, I believe, who bear this attribute. 

The Olive, as the well-known emblem of peace and 
reconciliation, is figured on the tombs of the earlv mar- 
tyrs ; sometimes with, sometimes without, the dove. 
The olive is borne as the attribute of peace by the 
angel Gabriel, by St. Agnes, and by St. Pantaleon ; 
sometimes also l)y the angels in a Nativity, who an- 
nounce " peace on earth.' 


The Dove in Christian Art is the emblem of the 
Holy Ghost ; and, besides its introduction into various 
subjects from the New Testament, as the Annunciation, 
the Baptism, the Pentecost, it is placed near certain 
saints who are supposed to have been particularly in- 
spired, as St. Gregory, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Hila- 
rius, and others. 

The dove is also a symbol of simplicity and purity 
of heart, and as such it is introduced into pictures of 
female saints, and especially of the Madonna and 

It is also the emblem of the soul ; in this sense it is 
seen issuing from the lips of dying martyrs, and is 
found in pictm-es of St. Eulalia of Merida, and St 
Scholastica, the sister of St. Benedict. 

The Lily is another symbol of purity, of very gen- 
eral application. We find it in pictures of the Vir- 
gin, and particularly in pictures of the Annunciation. 
It is placed significantly in the hand of St. Joseph, the 
husband of the Virgin Mary, his staff, according to the 


leq'end, having put forth lilies ; it is given, as an emblem 
merely, to St. Francis, St. Anthony of Padua, St. 
Dominick, and St. Catherine of Siena, to express the 
particular purity of their lives. 

The UxicoRx is another ancient symbol of purity, 
in allusion to the fable that it could never be captured 
except by a virgin stainless in mind and life ; it has 
become in consec^uence the emblem peculiarly o^ female 
chastity, but in Christian Art is appropriate only to 
the Virgin Mary and St. Justina. 

The Flamixg Heart expresses fervent piety and 
love : in early pictures it is given to St. Augustine, 
merely in allusion to a famous passage in his Confes- 
sions ; but in the later schools of Art it has become a 
general and rather vulgar emblem of spiritual love : in 
this sense it is given to St. Theresa ; St. ]Maria Mad- 
dalena de' Pazzi, a Florentine nun ; and some of the 
Jesuit saints. 

The Book in the hands of the Evangelists and the 
Apostles is an attribute, and represents the Gospel. In 
the hand of St. Stephen it is the Old Testament ; in 
the hand of any other saint it may be the Gospel, but 
it may also be an emblem only, signifying that the saint 
was famous lor his learning or his writings ; it has this 
sense in pictures of St. Catherine, the Doctors of the 
Church, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Bouaventura. 

A Church placed in the hands of a saint signifies 
that he was the founder of some particular church ; in 
this sense St. Henry bears the cathedral of Bamberg; or, 
that he was the protector and first bishop of the cimrch, 
as St. Petronius bears the cathedral of Bologna. I 
must except the single instance of St. Jerome ; the 
church in his hands signifies no particular edifice, but 
in a general sense, the Catholic Church, of which he 
was the great support and one of the primitive fathers ; 


to re; 1 l.T the syrn'K)! more expressive, rays of light are 
seen proceeding" tVoui the portal. 

Tlie Scourge in the hand of a saint, or at his feet, 
sig-nitias t!ie penances he inflicted u]mmi himself; but in 
the hand of St. Ambrose, it siguirics the penance he 
inflicted upon others. 

The Chalice, or Sacramental Cup, with the Host, 
signilies Faith ; it is given to St. Barbara. The Cup, 
with the Serpent, is the attribute of St. John. 

The Ship. — The Ark of Xoali, floating safe amid 
the D^iluge, in whicli all tilings else were overwhelmed, 
was an obvious symbol of the Church of Christ. Sul)- 
sequcutly the Ark became a ship. St. Ambrose likens 
the Cliuroh of God to a ship, and the Cross to tlie 
mast set in the midst of it. " Arbor qmudam in naci est 
crux in ecdesia." The Bark of St. Peter tossed in the 
storm, and by the Redeemer guided safe to land, was 
also considered as symbolical. Tlicsc mingled asso- 
ciations combined to give to the emblem of the ship a 
sacred significance. Every one who has been at Rome 
will remember the famous mosaic of the ship tossed 
by the storms, and assailed by demons, called The 
Navicella, which was executed by Giotto for the old 
Basilica of St. Peter's, and is now under the Portico, 
opposite to the principal door. I believe that in the 
pictures of St. Nicholas and St. Ursula the ship had 
originally a sacred and symbolical significance, and 
that tlie legends were afterwards invented or modified 
to explain the emblem, as in so many other instances. 

The Anchor is the Christian symbol of immovable 
firmness, hope, and patience ; and in this sense we find 
it very frequently in the catacombs, and on the ancient 
Christian gems. It was given to several of the early 
saints as a symbol. Subsequently a legend was invented 
to account for the symbol, turning it into an attribute, 


as was the case with the lion and tlic stag. For ex- 
ample : to St. Clement the anchor was first given as 
tlie symbol of his constancy in Christian hope, and 
thence we find, subsequently invented, the story of liis 
bein<r thrown into the sea Avith the anclior round liis 
neck. On the vane of the church of St. Clement iu 
the Strand, the anchor, the parish device, was anciently 
placed ; and as in the English fancy no anchor can be 
well separated from a ship, they have lately placed a 
ship on the other side, — the original signification of 
the anchor, as applied to St. Clement the martyr, being 
unknown or forgotten. 

The Lamp, Lantern, or Taper is the old emblem 
of piety : " Let your light so shine before men " ; and 
it also signifies wisdom. In the first sense we find this 
attribute in tlie liand of St. Gudula, St. Genevieve of 
Paris, and St. Bridget ; while the lamp in the hand of 
St. Lucia signifies celestial light or wisdom. 

Flowers and Fruits, often so beautifully intro- 
duced into ecclesiastical works of art, may be merely 
ornamental ; Crivelli, and some of the A''enetian and 
Lombard painters, were fond of rich festoons of fruit, 
and backgrounds of foliage and roses. But in some 
instances they have a definite significance. Roses are 
symbolical in pictures of the Madonna, who is tlie 
" Rose of Sharon." * The wreath of roses on the brow 
of St. Cecilia, the roses and fruits borne by St. Doro- 
thea, are explained b}^ the legends. 

The apple was the received emblem of the Fall of 
Man and original sin. Placed in pictures of the Ma- 
donna and Child, either in the hand of the Lifant 
Christ, or presented by an angel, it signified Redemption 
from the consequences of the Fall. The pomegranate, 
bursting open, and the seeds visible, was an emblem of 
the future, — of hope in immortality. When an a])ple, 
a peai", or a pomegranate is jDlaced in the hand of St 

* Vide " Legends of the Madonna." 


Catherine as the mystical Sposa of Christ, which con- 
tinually occurs, particularly in the Gerniau pictures, the 
allusion is to be taken in the Scriptural sense : " The 
fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace." 

V. Of the Significance of Colors. 

In very early Art we find colors used in a symbolical 
or mystic sense, and, until the ancient principles and 
traditions were wholly worn out of memory or set aside 
by the later ])aintcrs, certain colors were appropriate to 
certain subjects and persona<,'es, and could not arbitra- 
rily be applied or misapplied. In the old specimens of 
stained ;c!ass avc find tliese significations scrupulously 
attended to. Thus : — 

White, represented by the diamond or silver, was 
the emblem of li.Lrht, religious purity, innocence, vir- 
ginity, faith, joy, and life. Our Saviour wears white 
after his resurrection. In the iudLre it indicated inte"-- 
nty ; in the rich man, humility ; in the woman, chastity. 
It was the color consecrated to the Virgin, who, 
however, never wears white except in pictm-es of the 

Red, the ruby, signified fire, divine love, the Holy 
Spirit, heat, or the crciUivc power, and royalty. White 
and red roses expi'essed love and innocence, or love and 
wisdom, as in the garland with which the angel crowns 
St. Cecilia. In a bad sense, red signified blood, war, 
hatred, and i)unishment. Red and black combined 
were the colors of purgatory and the Devil. 

Blue, or the sapphire, expressed heaven, the firma- 
ment, truth, constancy, fidelity. Christ and the Virgin 
wear the red tunic and the blue mantle, as signifviug 
heavenly love and heavenly truth.* The same colors 

* In the Spanish schools the color of our Saviour's mantle is 
generally a deep rich violet. 


were given to St. John tlie evangelist, with this differ- 
ence, — that he wore the blue tunic and the red mantle ; 
hi later pictures the colors are sometimes red and 

Yellow, or gold, was the symbol of the sun ; of the 
goodness of God ; initiation, or marriage ; faith, or 
fruitfulness. St. Joseph, the husband of the Virgin, 
wears yellow. In pictures of the apostles, St. Peter 
weai's a yellow mantle over a blue tunic. In a bad 
sense, yellow signifies inconstancy, jealousy, deceit ; in 
this sense it is given to the traitor Judas, who is gen- 
erally habited in dirty yellow. 

Green^, the emerald, is the color of spring; of hope, 
particularly hope in immortality ; and of victory, as 
the color of the palm and the laurel. 

Violet, the amethyst, signified love and truth ; or, 
passion and suffering. Hence it is the color often Avorn 
by the martyrs. In some instances our Savioui-, after 
his resurrection, is habited in a violet instead of a blue 
mantle. The Virgin also Avears violet after the cruci- 
fixion. Mary Magdalene, who as patron saint Avears 
the red robe, as penitent Avears violet and blue, the 
colors of sorroAV and of constancy. In the devotional 
representation of her by Timoteo della Vite,* she 
Avears red and green, the colors of love and hope. 

Gray, the color of ashes, signified mourning, humil- 
ity, and innocence accused ; hence adopted as the dress 
of the Franciscans (the Gray Friars) ; but it has since 
been changed for a dark rusty broAvn. 

Black expressed the earth, darkness, mourning, 
Avickedness, negation, death ; and Avas appropriate to 
the Prince of Darkness. In some old illuminated 
MSS., Jesus, in the Temptation, Avears a black robe. 

* Bologna Gallery. 


NVIiite and black together signified purity of life, and 
mourning or humiliation ; hence adopted by the Do- 
minicans and t!ic Carmelites. 

The mystical api)lication of attributes and colors was 
more particularly attended to in that class of sulyects 
I have distinguished as devotional. In the sacred his- 
torical pictures we find that tlic attril)utes are usually 
omittcd as superfluous, and characteristic propriety of 
color often sacrificed to the general effect. 


These introductory observations and explanations 
will be found illustrated in a variety of forms as we 
proceed ; and readers will be led to make comparisons, 
and discover analogies and exceptions, for themselves. 
I must stop here ; — yet one word more. — 

All the productions of Art, from tlie time it has been 
directed and develojied by Christian infiuenccs, may be 
regarded under three dificrent aspects. 1. The purely 
religious aspect, which belongs to one mode of faith ; 
2. The poetical aspect, which belongs to all ; 3. The 
artistic, which is the individual point of view, and has 
reference only to the action of the intellect on the means 
and material employed. There is pleasure, intense 
pleasure, merely in the consideration of Art as Art ; 
in the faculties of comparison and nice discrimina- 
tion, brought to bear on objects of beauty ; in the ex- 
ercise of a cultivated and refined taste on the productions 
of mind in any form whatever. But a threefold, or 
rather a thousand-fold, ])leasure is theirs who to a sense 
of the poetical unite a sympathy with the spiritual in 
Art, and who combine with delicacy of perception, and 
technical knowledge, more elevated sources of pleasure, 
more variety of association, habits of more excursive 
thought. Let none imagine, however, that, in placing 
before the uninitiated these unpretending volumes, I 
assume any such superiority as is here implied. Like 
a child that has sprung on a little way before its play- 
mates, and caught a glimpse through an opening portaV 



of some varied Eden within, all gay with flowers, and 
musical with birds, and haunted by divine shapes which 
beckon onward ; and, after one rapturous survey, runs 
back and catches its companions by the hand and hur- 
ries them forwards to share the new-found pleasure, the 
yet unexplored region of delight ; even so it is with 
me : — I am on the outside, not the inside, of the door 
I open. 



"Ye too must fly before a chasing hand, 
Angels ami saints in every hamlet mourned ! 
Ah ' if tlie old idolatry be spurned. 
Let not your radiant shapes desert the land ! 
ller adoration was not your demand, — 
The fond heart proffered it, — the servile heart, 
And therefore are ye summoned to depart ; 
Michael, and thou St. George, whose flaming brand 
The Dragon quelled ; and valiant 'Margaret, 
Whose rival sword a like opponent slew ; 
And rapt Cecilia, seraph-haunted queen 
Of harmony ; and weejjing Magdalene, 
Who in the penitential desert met 
Gales sweet as those that over Eden blew ! " 


" 'I can just remember,' snys a theologian of the last century, 
' when the women first taught me to say my prayers, I used to 
have an idea of a venerable old man, of a composed, benign 
countenance, with his own hair, clad in a morning gown of a 
gi-ave-colored flowered damask, sitting in an elbi.w-chair.' And 
lie proceeds to say that, in looking back to these l)eginnings, he 
is in no way disturbed at the grossness of his infant theology. 
Tlie image thus shajjed by the imagination of the child was, in 
truth, merely one example of the various forms and conceptions 
fitted to divers states and seasons, and orders and degrees, of the 
r.'liginus mind, whether infant or adult, which represent the 
several approximations such minds at such seasons can respec- 
tively make to the completeness of faith. These impcrlect ideas 
should be held to be reconciled and comprehended in that com- 
])leteiiess, not rejected by it 5 and the nearest approximation 
which the greatest of human minds can accomplish is surely to 
be regarded as much nearer to the imperfection of an infantine 
notion than to the fulness of truth The gown of flowered 
damask and the elbow-chair may disappear ; the anthropomor- 
phism of childhood maj^ give place to the divine incarnation 
of the Second Person in after-years ; and we may come to con- 
ceive of the Deity as Milton did when his epithets were most 
abstract ; — 

'So spake the Soveax Presence.' 

But after all, these are but different grades of imperfection in 
the forms of doctrinal faith ; and if there be a devouter love on 
the part of the child for what is pictureil in his imagination as a 
veneraV>le old man, than in the philosoidiic poet for the 'Sovran 
Presence,' the child's faith has more of the efScacy of religious 
truth in it than tlie poet's and philosopher's." {Ftde " Notes on 
Life," by Hexky Taylor, p. 136.) 


I. The Axgels. 

HERE is soinctliin;]: so very attractive and 
l)oetical, as well as soothinf]^ to our helpless 
finite imttire, in all the superstitions con- 
nected \vit!i the jjopular notion of Angels, 
tliat we cannot wonder at their prevalence in the earlj 
ai^es of the world. Those nations who acknowledged 
one Almighty Creator, and rejmdiated with horror the 
idea of a plurality of Gods, were the most willing to 
accept, the mast enthusiastic in accepting, these objects 
of an intermediate homage ; and gladly placed between 
their humanity and tlie awful supremacy of an unseen 
God the ministering spirits who were the agents of his 
will, the witnesses of his glory, the partakers of his 
bliss, and who in their preternatural attributes of love 
and knowledge filled up that vast space in the created 
universe which intervened between mortal man and the 
intinite, omnipotent Lord of All. 

Tiie belief in these superior beings, dating from im- 
memorial antiquity, interwoven as it should seem with 
our very nature, and authorized by a variety of passa- 
ges in Scripture, has dcs ended to our cime. Although 
the bodily forms assigiied to them are allowed to be 
impossible, and merely allegorical, although their sup- 
posed functions as rulers of the stars and elements have 
long been set aside by a knowledge of the natural 


laws, still the ooexistCTioe of many orders of lieincrs 
superior in nature to ourselves, benignly interested in 
our welfare, and contendinj^ for us against the powers 
of evil, remains an artiele of faitli. Perhaps the iie- 
lief itself, and the feeling it excites in the tender and 
contemplative mind, Avere never more beautifully ex- 
pressed than by our own S])enser. 

" Anil is there care in heaven ? And is there love 
In heavenly spirits to these creatures base, 
That may compassion of their evils move? 
There is I — else much more wretched were the case 
Of men than beasts ' But ta' exceeding grace 
Of highest God that loves his rreatures so. 
And all his works with mercy doth embrace, 
That blessed angels he sends to and fro 
To serve to wicked man, to serve his wicked foe ! 

" IIow oft do they their silver bowers leave, 
And come to succor us that succor want I 
IIow oft do they with golden pinions cleave 
The flitting skies, like flying pursuivant, 
Against foul fiends, to aid us militant ! 
Tliey for us fight, they watch, and dulj'' ward, 
And their bright squadrons round about us plant, 
And all for love, and notliing for reward"! 
why should heavenly God to men have such regard !" 

It is this feeling, expressed or unexpressed, lurking at 
the very core of all hearts, Avhich renders the usual rep- 
resentations of angels, spite of all incongruities of form, 
so pleasing to the fancy : we overlook the anatomical 
solecisms, and become mindful only of that emblemati- 
cal significance which through its humanity connects it 
with us, and throngh its supernatural appendages con- 
nects lis with heaven. 

But it is recepsary to give a brief summary of the 
Scriptural and theological authorities, relative to the na- 
ture and functions of angels, before we can judge of 
the manner in 'vhich these ideas have been attended to 
and carried ou* n the artistic similitudes. Thus angels 
arc represented ti the Old Testament, — 



1. As beings of a higher nature than men, and gifted 
with superior intelligence and righteousness.* 

2. As a host of attendants surrounding the throne of 
God, and as a kind of celestial court or council.! 

3. As messengci-s of His will conveyed from heaven 
to earth : or as sent to guide, to correct, to instruct, to 
reprove, to console. 

4. As protecting the pious. 

5. As punishing by command of the Most High the 
H'icked and disobedient.}: 

6. As having the form of men ; as eating and drinking. 

7. As wielding a sword. 

8. As liaving power to slay. § 

I do not recollect any instance in which angels are 
represented in Scripture as instigated by hun):i:i pas- 
sions ; they arc merely the agents of the mercy or the 
wrath of the Almighty. 

After the period of the captivity, the Jcwisli ideas 
concerning angels were considerably extended and 
modiiied by an admixture of the Chaldaic belief, and 
of the doctrines taught by Zoroaster. || It is then that 
we first hear of good and bad angels, and of a fallen 
angel or impersonation of evil, busy in working mis- 
chief on earth and counteracting good ; also of archan- 
gels, who are alluded to by name ; and of guai'dian an- 
gels, assigned to nations and individuals ; and these for- 
eign ideas concerning the spiritual world, accc])tcd and 
promulgated by the Jewish doctoi's, pervade the whole 
of the New Testament, in which angels are far more 
familiar to us as agents, more frccjuently alluded to, 
and more distinctly I)rought before us, than in the Old 
Testament. For example : they are rcpresemed, — 

* 2 Sam. xiv. 17. 

i Gen. xxxii. 1, 2 ; Ps. ciii. 21; 1 Kings xxii. 19 ; Job i. 6. 

X Gen. xxii. 11-, Exod. xiv. 19; Num. xx. 16; Gen. xxi. 17; 
Julg. xiii. 3 ; 2 Kings i. 3 ; Ps. xxxiv. 7 ; Judith xiii. 20. 

§ i Sam. xxiv. 16 ; 2 Kings xix. 3-5 ; Gen. xviii. 8 ; Num. xxii. 
31 , 1 Chron, xxi. 16 ; Gen. xix. 13. 

II Calmet. 



1. As countless. 

2. As superior to all human wants and weaknesses. 

3. As tlie deputed messengers of God. 

4. They rejoice over the repentant sinner. Thev 
take deep interest in the mission of Christ. 

5. Tlicy are present with those who pi'ay; they bear 
the souls of the just to heaven. 

6. They minister to Christ on earth, and will he 
present at his second coming.* 

In the Gospel of St. John, which is usually regarded 
as tlic fullest and most correct exposition of the doc- 
trines of Christ, angels are only three times mentioned, 
and iu none of these instances does the word angel fall 
from the lips of Cinist. On the other hand, the writ- 
ings of St. Paul, who was deej^ly versed in all the 
learning and philosophy of the Jews, abound in allu- 
sions to angels, and, according to the usual interpreta- 
tion of certain passages he shows them divided into 
several classes.! St. Luke, who Avas the friend and 
disciple of St. Paul, some say his convert, is more di- 
rect and explicit on tlie subject of angels than any of 
the other Evangelists, and liis allusions to them much 
more frequent. 

The worship of angels, which the Jews brought from 
Chaldea, was early introduced into the Christian 
Church. In the fourth century the council of Laodi- 
cea published a decree against places of worship dedi- 
cated to angels under names which the Church did not 
recognize. But neither warning nor council seems to 
have had power to modify the popular creed, counte- 
nanced as it was by high authority. All the Fathers 
ai'e unanimous as to the existence of angels good and 
evil. They hold that it is evermore the allotted task 

* Matt. xxvi. 53 5 Ilcb. xii. 22 ; Matt. xxii. 30 ; Luke xx. S6 ; 
Matt. xix. 24 5 Luke i. 11 ; Acts v. 19 et passim ; Luke xv. 10 ; 
1 Peter i. 12 5 Luke xvi. 22 5 Heb. i. 14= , 1 Cor, xi. 10 ; Matt. {. 20, 
xvi. 27, XXV. 31. 

t Rom. viii. 38 ; Col. i. 16 5 Ephes. i. 21. 



of ffood ancrels to defend us ajrainst evil anirels, and to 
carry on a daily and hourly coml)at airainst our spirit- 
ual foes : tlicy tcaeh that the good angels are worthy 
of all reverence as the ministers of God and as the pro- 
tectors of tlie human race; that their intercession is to 
be invoked, and their perpetual, invisible presence to be 
regarded as an incitement to good and a preventive to 

This, hon'ever, was not enough. Taking for their 
foundatioa a few Scripture texts, and in jtarticular the 
classification of St. Paul, the imaginative theologians 
of the middle ages ran into all kinds of extravagant 
subtleties regarding the being, the nature, and the func- 
tions of the ditierent ordei^s of angels. Except as far 
as they have been taken as authorities in Art, I shall 
set aside these fanciful disquisitions, of which a mere 
abstract would fill volumes. For our present jiurpose 
it is sufficient to bear in mind that the great theologi- 
ans divide the angelic hosts into three hierarchies, and. 
these again into nine choirs, three in each hierarchy : 
according to Dionysius the Arcopagite, in the following 
order: 1. Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones. 2. Domina- 
tions, Virtues, Powers. 3. Princedoms, xVrchangels, 
Angels. The order of these denominations is not the 
same in all authorities : acc-ording to the Greek formula, 
St. Bernard, and the Legenda Aurca, the Cherubim 
precede the Seraphim, and in the hymn of St. Ambrose 
they have also the precedence, — To Thee, Cherubim 
and Seraphim continual! i/ do cry, &c. ; but the authority 
of St. Dionysius seems to be admitted as paramount, 
for according to the legend he was the convert and in- 
timate friend of St. Paul, and St. Paul, who had been 
transported to the seventh heaven, had made him ac- 
quainted with all he had there beheld. 

" Desire 

In Dionj-sius so intensely wroujrht 
That he, as I have done, ranged them, and named 
Their orders, marshalled in his thought ; 
For he had learned 


Both this and much beside of these our orbs 
From aa eyewitness to Heaven's mysteries." 

Daste, Par. 2S. 

The first three choirs receive their g-lorv immediately 
from God, and truii.smit it to the second ; the second 
illuminate the tliird ; the tliird are placed in relation to 
the created universe and man. The first Hierarchy are 
as councillors ; the second, as governors , the third, as 
ministers. Tlie Seraphim are absorbed in pcrj.ctnal 
love and adoration immediately round the tin-one of 
God. The Cherubim know and worship. The Thrones 
sustain the seat of the Most High. The Dominations, 
Virtues, Powx'rs, are the lACtients of stars and elements. 
The three last orders, Princedoms, Archangels, and 
AnLiels, are the protectors of the great ^Monarchies on 
earth, and the executors of the will of God throughout 
rhe universe. 

The term angels is properly aj^plied to all these ce- 
lestial beings; but it belongs especially to the two last 
orders who f^re brought into immediate communication 
Avith the li'iinan race. Tlie word angel, Greek in its 
origin, signifies a messenger, or more literally a br/iu/er 
of tidings. In this sense, the Greeks entitle Christ 
" The groat Angel of tlie will of God " ; and I have 
seen Greek representations of Christ with wings to his 
shoulders. John the Baptist is also an angel in tin's 
sense ; likewise the Evangelists ; all of whom, as I 
shall show hereafiei", bear, as celestial messengers, the 

In ancient pictures and illuminations which exhibit 
the glorification of the Trinity, Christ, or the Virgin, 
the hierarchies of angels are represented in circles 
around them, orb within orb. This is called a glory 
of angels. In pictures, it is seldom complete : instead 
of nine circles, the painters content themselves with one 
or two circles only. Tlie innermost circles, the Sera- 
phim and the Cherubim, are in general represented as 
leads merely, "with two or four or six wings, and of a 
► bright-red or blue color; sometimes with variegated 


wincrs, preen, yellow, violet, &c. This emblem — in- 
teiuleil to shadow forth to human comprehension a 
pure sj)irit glowing with love and intelligcm-e, iu whit-h 
all that is bodily is put away, and only the head, the 
scat of soul, and wings, the attribute of spirit and swift- 
ness, retained — is of Greek origin. "Wlieii first adopted 
I do not know, but I have met with it in Greek MSS. 
of the niutli century. Down to the eleventh century 
the fiices were hunum, but not chihlish ; the infant 
head was afterwards adoj)ted to express innocence in 
addition to love and intelligence. 

Such was the expressive and poetical symbol which 
degenerated iu the later periods of Art into those little 
flit babv heads, with curlv hair, and small wings under 
the chin, whicli the more they resemble nature in color, 
feature, and detail, the more absurd they become, the 
original meaning i)eing wholly lost or perverted. 
- In painting, where a glory of angels is placed round 
the Divine Being or the glorified Virgin, those forming 
the innermost circle are, or ought to be, of a glowing 
red, the color of tire, that is, of love ; the next circle is 
painted blue, the color of the firmament, or light, that 
is, of knowledge. Now as the word seraph is derived 
from a Heljrew root signifying love, and the word 
cherub from a Hebrew root signifying to know, should, 
not this distinction fix the proper place and name of 
the first two orders 1 It is admitted that the spirits 
which love arc' nearer to God than those which Av^oit', 
since we cannot know that which we do not first love ; 
that Love and Knowledge, " the two halves of a divided 
world," constitute in their union the perfection of the 
angelic nature ; but the Scraidiim, according to the 
derivation of tlieir name, should love most ; their whole 
being is fused, as it were, in a glow of adoration; 
therefore tlicy *shouId take the ])recedence, and their 
proper color is red. The Cherubim, "the lords of 
those that know," come next, and are to be painted 


Thus it should seem that, in considering the religious 
pictures of the early ages of Art, we have to get rid of 
certain associations as to color and form, derived from 
the plu-aseoloyy of later poets and the representations 
of later painters. " Blue-eyed Seraphim," and tb.e 
" blue depth of Seraplis' eyes," are not to be thouglit 
of any more than "smiling Cherubim." The Sera- 
phim, where distinguished by color, are red ; the 
Cherubim, blue : the proper character, where character 
is attended to, is, in the Seraph, adoration; in the 
Cherub, contemplation. So jMilton : — 

" "With thee bring 
Him who soars on golden wing, 
The Cherub, Contemplation." 

I remember a little Triptyca, a genuine work of 
Fiesole, in which one of tlie lateral compartments rep- 
resents his favorite subject, the souls of the blessed 
received into Paradise. They are moving from the 
lower part of the picture towards the top, along an as- 
cent paved with flowers, all in Avhite garments and 
crowned with roses. At one side, low down, stands a 
blue Cherub robed in drapery spangled with golden 
stars, who seems to encourage the blessed group. 
Above are the gates of heaven. Clu'ist v/elcomes to 
his kingdom the beatified spirits, and on each side 
stands a Seraph all of a glowing red, in spangled 
drapery. The figures are not here merely heads and 
Avings, but full length, having all that soft, peculiar grace 
which belongs to the painter.* 

In a Coronation of the Virgin,! a glory of Seraphim 

* I know not whether it be necessary to observe here, that in 
early Art the souls of the blessed are not represented as angels, 
nor regarded as belonging to this order of spiritual beings, 
though I believe it is a very common notion that we are to rise 
from the dead with the angelic attributes as Veil as the angelic 
nature. For this belief there is no warrant in Scripture, unless 
Mark xii. 25 be so interpreted. 

t Now in the Collection of Prince Wallerstein at Kensington 


over-arches the principal group. Here the angelic hc- 
ings are wholly of a bright-red color : they are human 
to the waist, with hands clas]jed iu devotion : the bodies 
and nrms covered with j)luin:ige, but the forms termi- 
nating- in wings ; all uniformlv red. In the same col- 
lection is a small Greek jiicture of Christ receiving the 
soul of the Virgin ; over his head hovers a large, 
fiery-red, six-winged Serajth ; and on each side a Ser- 
aph with hair and face and limbs of glowing red, and 
with Aviiite draperies. Vasari mentions an Adoration 
of the Magi by Liberale of Verona, in wliich a group 
of angels, all of a red color, stand as a celestial guard 
round the Virgin and her divine InAxnt.* 

The distinction of hue in the red and blue angels we 
find wholly omitted towards the end of the fifteenth 
century. Clierul)im with blue, red, green, and variegat- 
ed wings we find in tlic pictui'cs of Perugino and other 
masters in the beginning of the sixteenth century, also 
ill early pictures of Kaphael. Liberale di Verona has 
given us, in a Madonna picture, Clicrub heads without 
wings, and of a blue color, emerging from golden 
clouds. And in Raphael's Madonna di San Sisto the 
whole background is formed of Cherubim and Sera- 
phim of a uniform delicate bluish tinge, as if composed 
of air, and melting away into an abyss of golden glory, 
tlie principal figures standing relieved against this flood 
of living love and liglit — beautiful ! So are the Cher- 
ubim with many-colored wings which float in the firma- 
ment in Perugino's Coronation of the Virgin ; but none 
of these can be regarded as so theologically correct as 
the fiery-red and bright-blue Seraphim and Cherubim, 
of which are formed the hierarchies and glories which 
figure in the early pictures, the stained glass, the 
painted sculpture, and the illuminated»MSS. from the 
tenth to the sixteenth century. 

The next five choirs of angels, the Thrones, Domi- 
nations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers, though classed 
and described with great exactitude by the theologians, 

* Vasari, p. 648, Fl. edit. 


have not been vciy accurately discriminatefl in Art. In 
some examples tiie Thrones liavc green wings, a fiery 
aureole, iind hear a throne in their liands. The Domi- 
nations, ^'irlUes, and Powers, som'^imes bear a glolc 
and a long sceptre surmounted by a cross. The Prin- 
cipalities, according to the Greek formula, should Ijcar 
a branch of lily. The Archangels are figured as Avar- 
riors, and carry a sword with the point upAvards. The 
angels are robed as deacons, and carry a wand. In 
one of the ancient frescos in the Cathedral at Orvieto 
tliere is a complete hierarchy of angels, so arranged as 
\o sym'tolize the Trinity, each of the nine choirs being 
. com-,)Osed of three angels, but the Seraphim only are 
distinj;uished by their red color and priority of plate. 
In the south porch of the Cathedral of Chartres, each 
of the nine orders is represented by two angels : in 
other instances, one angel only rejn-esents the order to 
Avhich he belongs, and nine angels represent the Avhole 
hici-arc'.iy.* Where, however, we meet with groups or 
rows of angels, as in the Greek mosaics and the earliest 
frescos, all alike, all with the tiara, the long sceptre- 
like wands, and the orb of sovereignty, I believe these 
to represent the Powers and Princedoms of Heaven, 
The Archangels alone, as we shall see presently, have 
distinct individual names and attributes assigned to 

The angels, generally, have the human form ; are 
winged; and are endowed with immutable happiness 
and perpetual youth, because they are ever in the pres- 
ence of Him with whom there is no change and no 


* I saw in the palace of the Bishop of Norwich an elegant little 
bas-relief in alabaster, exhibiting the nine choirs, each repre- 
sented by a singl^angel. The first (the Seraphim) hold the sacra- 
mental cup •, the Cherubim, a book 5 th'J Thrones, a throne ; the 
Principalities, a bunch of lilies ; the Archangels are armed. The 
other attributes are not clearly made out. The figures have been 
ornamented with painting and gilding, now partially worn off, 
and the style is of the early part of the fifteenth century. It ap- 
peared to me to have formed one of the compartments of an altar- 



time. Tliev are direct emanations of the beantv of 
tlie Eternal mind, tiiereforc beautiful ; created, there- 
fore, not eternal, but created perfect, and immortal in 
their i)L;rfoction : they are always supposed to be mas- 
culine ; perhaps for the reason so beautifully assi^i'ned 
by Madame de Staiil, " because the union of power 
with jiurity {la force avec la purete) constitutes all that 
we mortals can imai;inc of perfection." There is no 
sucn tiling as an old angel, and tlierefore there ought 
to be no such thing as an infant angel. The introduc- 
tion of infant angels seems to have arisen from tlic cus- 
tom of representing the regenerate souls of men as 
new-born infants, and ])erha]>s also from the words of 
our Saviour, when speaking of children : " I say unto 
you, their angels do always behold the face of my 
Fatlier whicli is in lieaven." Such representations, 
when religiously and poetically treated as s])irits of 
love, intelligence, and iuaoceuce, arc of exquisite beau- 
ty, and have a sigiiificancc which charms and elevates 
the fauL-y ; but from tliis, the true and religious con-cp- 
tion, the Italian pnfti and pnttini, and the rosy, chubby 
babies of the Fiemisli school, arc equally remote. 

In early Art, the angels in the bloom of adolescence 
are always amply drai)ed ; at first, in the classical tunic 
and pallium ; afterwards in long linen vestments with 
the al!)a and stole, as levites or deacons ; or as princes, 
with em!)roidcred roI)es and sandals, and jewelled 
crowns or fillets. Such figures are common in the 
Byzantine mosaics and pictures. The expression, in 
these early representations, is usually calm and im])as- 
sive. Angels partially draped in loose, fluttering, mere- 
tricious attire, poised in attitudes upon clouds, or with 
features animated by human passion, or limbs strained 
by human effort, ai"e the innovations of more modern 
Art. Wiiite is, or ought to be, tlie prevailing color in 
angelic draperies, but red and blue of various shades 
are more frequent ; green often occurs ; and in the 
Venetian pictures, yellow, or rather satfron-colored, 
vobes are not unfrequent. In the best cxamp.- : of 


Italian Art the tints, though varied, are tender and del- 
icate ; all dark, heavy colors and violent contrasts of 
color are avoided. On the contrary, in the early Ger- 
man school the angels have rich, heavy, volnmiiions 
draperies of the most intense and vivid colors, often 
jewelled and embroidered Avith gold. Flight, in such 
garments, seems as difficult as it Avould be to swim in 
coronation robes. 

But, whaiever be the treatment as to character, lin- 
eaments, or dress, wings are almost invariably the at- 
tribute of the angelic form. As emblematical append- 
ages, these are not merely signiticant of the character 
of celestial messengers, for, from time immemorial, 
wings have been the Orieuial and Egyptian symbol of 
power, as well as of swiftness ; of the spiritual and 
aerial, in contradistinction to the human and the earth- 
ly. Thus, with the Egyptians, the Minged globe sig- 
nified power and eternity, that is, the Godhead ; a bird, 
with a human head, signified the soul ; and nondescript 
creatures, with wings, abound not only in tlie Egyptian 
paintings and hieroglyphics, but also in the Chaklaic 
and Babylonian remains, in the Lycian and JsincA-eh 
marbles, and on the gems and other relics of the Gnos- 
tics. I have seen on the Gnostic gems figures with 
four Avings, two springing from the shoulders and two 
from the loins. The portentous figure, from the ruins 
of Xineveh, is similarly constructed. 

In Etruscan Art all their divinities are winged ; and 
where Venus is represented with wings, as in many of 
the antique gems (and by Correggio in imitation of 
them),* these brilliant wings are not, as some have sup- 
posed, emblematical of the transitoriness, but of the 
might, the majesty, and the essential divinity of beauty. 
In Scripture, the first mention of Cherubim with wings 
is immediately after the departure of the Israelites from 
Egypt (Exod. xxxi. 2). Bezalcel, the first artist whose 
name is recorded in the world's history, and who ap- 
pears to have been, like the greatest artists of modern 

* As in the picture in oui- National Gallery, No. 10. 


times, at once arrliitcct, sculptor, and painter, probably 
derived his figures of Clierubini with outstretelied 
wini^s, guarding; the mercy-seat, from those E{ivj)tian 
works of art with which the Israelites must have l)ccn 
fiimiliarized, Clement of Alexandria is so aware of 
the relative similitude, that lie supposes the Ejryptians 
to have borrowed from tlie Israelites, which is obviously 
the reverse of the truth. How far the Cherubim, whiili 
fiijure in the Biblical pictures of the present day, re- 
semble the carved Cherubim of Bezaleel we cannot 
tell, but probably the idea and the leading: forms are 
the same ; for the ark, we know, was carried into Pal- 
estine; these original Cherubim were the pattern of 
those which adorned the temple of Solomon, and these, 
again, were the prototype after which the imagery of 
the second temple was fashioned. Although in Scrip- 
ture the shape under which the celestial ministers ap- 
peared to man is nowhere described, exce])t in the 
visions of the prophets (Dan. x. 5), and there with a 
sort of dreamy, incoherent splendor, rendering it most 
perilous to clothe the image placed before the fancv in 
definite forms, still the idea of wings, as the angelic 
appendages, is conveyed in many ]»laccs distinctly, and 
occasionally with a picturesque vividness which inspires 
and assists the artist. For instance, in Daniel, ch. vii., 
"they had wings like a fowl." In Ezekiel, ch. i., " their 
wings were stretched ujjward when they flew; when 
they stood, they let down their wings." " I heard the 
noise of their wings as the noise of great waters." And 
in Zec'hariah, ch. v., "I looked, and behold there came 
out two women, and the wind was in their wings, for 
they had wings like the wings of a stork." And Isaiah, 
ch. vi., in the description of the Seraphim, " Each one 
had six wings ; with twain he covered his face, and 
with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did 
fly." By the early artists this description was followed 
out in a manner more conscientious and reverential 
than poetical. 

They were content with a symbol. But mark how 


Milton, more daring, could paint from the same origi- 
nal : — 

"A seraph winged ; six wings he wore to shade 
His liueaments divine ; the i)air that clad 
Each shoulder broad, came mantling o'er his breast 
With regal ornament ; the middle pair 
Girt like a starry zone his waist, and round 
Skirted his loins and thighs with downy gold 
And colors dipped in heaven ; the third his feet 
Shadowed from either heel with feathered mail, 
Sky-tinctured grain." 

I have sometimes thought that Milton, in his descrip- 
tions of angels, "was not indebted merely to the notions 
of tlie old theological writers, interpreted and erabel- 
lisiied by his own fancy : may lie not, in his wander- 
ings through Italy, have beheld with kindling sympathy 
some of those glorious creations of Italian Art, Avhich, 
wiicn I saw them, made me break out into his own 
divine language as the only fit utterance to express 
those forms in words 1 — But, to return : Is it not a 
mistake to make the wings, the feathered appendages 
of the angelic form, as like as possible to real wings, — 
the wings of storks, or the wings of swans, or herons, 
borrowed for the occasion ? Some modern painters, 
anxious to make wings look "narural," have done this; 
Delaroche, for instance, in his St. Cecilia. Infinitely 
more beautiful and consistent are the nondescript wings 
which the early painters gave their angels : — large, — 
so large, that when the glorious creature is rcj)resented 
as at rest, they droop from the shoulders to the ground ; 
with long, slender feathers, eyed sometimes like the 
peacock's train, bedropped with gold like the pheasant's 
breast, tinted with azure and violet and crimson, 
"colors dipped in heaven," — they are really angel- 
wings, not bird-wings. 

Orcagna's angels in the Cam]io Santo arc, in this 
respect, peculiarly poetical. Their extremities are 
wings instead of limbs ; and in a few of the old Italian 
and German painters of the fifteenth century we find 


anprels whose extremities are formed of light, waving 
folds of pale rose-eolored or azure drapery, or of a sort 
of vapory cloud, or, in some instances, of liames. 
The clieruhim and seraphhn which surround the simil- 
itude of Jeliovah when he ai)pcars to Closes in the 
buruinc hush * are an example of the su!)lime and 
poetical siguiticancc which may be given to tiiis kind 
of treatment. Tliey have heads and human features 
marvellous for intelligence and beauty ; liieir hair, 
their wings, their linii'S, end in lambent lires ; they arc 
" celestial Ardors bright," which seem to have being 
without shai)e. 

Dante's angels liavc less of dramatic rcalitv, less of 
tlie aggrandized and idealized human jncsence, than 
Milton's. They are wondrous creatures. Some of 
them have the quaint, fantastic picturesqucness of old 
Italian Art and the Albert Durer school ; for instance, 
those in the Purgatorio, with their wings of a bright 
green, and their green draperies, " verde come fo- 
glicttc," kept in a perpetual state of undulation by the 
breeze created by the fanning of their wings, with 
features too dazzling to be distinguished : — 

"Ben (liscerneva in lor la testa bionda, 
Ma nelle facce 1' occliio si suiania 
Come virlu ch' a troppo si coiifouda." t 

And the Shape glowing red as in a furnace, with an air 
from the fanning of its wings, " fresh as the first breath 
of wind in a May morning, and fragrant as all its 
flowers." That these and other passages scattered 
through the Purgatorio and the Paradiso assisted the 
fancy of the earlier painters in portraying their angelic 
Glories and Avinged Beatitudes, I have little doubt ; but, 
on the other hand, the sublime angel in the Inferno, — 
he who comes speeding over the Avaters with vast })inions 
like sails, sweeping the evil spirits in heaps before him, 
" like frogs before a serpent," and with a touch of hig 

* Vatican ; Raphael's fresco. 

t n. Purg. c. viii. ; Par. c. xxxi. ; Purg. c. xxiv. 


wand making the gates of the city of Dis fly open ; 
then, with a countenance solemn and majestic, and 
quite unmindful of his worshipper, as one occupied by 
higher matters, turning and soaring away, — this is 
quite in tlie sentiment of the grand old Greek and 
Italian mosaics, which preceded Dante by some cen- 

But besides being the winged messengers of God to 
man, tlie deputed regents of the stars, the rulers of the 
elements, and the dispensers of the fate of nations, 
anirels have another function in which we love to con- 
temi)late them. They are the clioristers of heaven. 
Theirs is the privilege to sound that hymn of praise 
which goes up from this boundless and harmonious 
universe of suns and stars and worlds and rejoicing 
creatures, towards the God who created them : theirs 
is the music of the spheres, — 

" They sing, and singing in their glory move " ; 

they tune divine instruments, named after those of 
earth's harmonies, — 

" The harp, the solemn pipe 
And dulcimer, all organs of sweet stop, 
All sounds on fret l)y string or golden wire, 

And with songs 
And choral symphonies, day without night, 
Circle his throne rejoicing." 

There is nothing more beautiful, more attractive, in 
Art than the representations of angels in this character. 
Sometimes they form a chorus round the glorified 
Saviour, Avhen, after his sorrow and sacrifice on earth, 
he takes his throne in heaven ; or, when the crown is 

* The Cherubim in the upper lights of the painted windows at 
St. Michael's, Coventry, and at Cirencester, are i-epresented each 
standing on a white wheel with eight spokes. They have six 
wings, of peacocks' feathers, of a rich yellow color. A white 
cross surmounts the foi'ehead, and both arms and legs are covered 
with short plumage. The extremities are human and bare. At 
Cirencester the Cherubim hold a book ; at Coventry, a scroll. 



placed on the head of the Maternal Viririn in p-lorv, 
pour forth their triumphant sonfr, and sound their sil- 
ver clarions on hi;,'^li : sometimes they stand or kneel 
before tlie Madonna and Child, or sit upon the steps of 
lier throne, singinj; — with such sweet, earnest faces ! 
or playing on their golden lutes, or piping celestial 
symplionies ; or tliey bend in a clioir from tiic opening 
heavens above, and welcome, with triumphant songs, 
the liberated soul of tlie saint or martyr ; or join in St. 
Cecilia's Hymn of ])raisc : but whatever the scene, in 
these and simihvr representations, they appear in their 
natural place and vocation, and liarmonizc cnchantingly 
with all our feelings and fancies relative to these augehc 
beings, made up of loyc and music. 

JMost beautiful exami)les of this treatment occur both 
in early painting and sculpture ; and no one who has 
wandered through churches and galleries, with feeling 
and observation awake, can fail to remember such. It 
struck me as characteristic of the Venetian school, that 
the love of music seemed to combine witii the sense 
of harmony in color ; nowhere liave I seen musical 
angels so frequently and so beautifully introdu'cd : and 
whereas the angelic choirs of Fiesole, Ghirlandajo, and 
Raphael, seem to be playing as an act of homage for 
the delight of the Divine Personages, tliose of Vivarini 
and Bellini and Palma appear as if enchanted by their 
own music ; and botii together are united in the grand 
and beautiful angels of Melozzo da Forli, particularly 
in one who is bending over a lute, and another who, 
with a triumphant and ecstatic expression, strikes tlie 
cymbals.* Compare the cherubic host who are pouring 
forth their hymns of triumph, blowing their uplifted 
trumpets, and touching immortal harps and viols in 
Angclico's " Coronation," t or in Signorelli's " Para- 
dise," X with those lovely Venetian clioristers, the piping 
boys, myrtle-crowned, who are hymning Bellini's Ma- 

* In the sacristy of the Tatican. f In the Louvre. 

% lu the Cathedral at Orvieto. 


donna, * or those who are touching the lute to the praise 
and <::lory of St. Ambrose in Vivarini's most beautiful 
picture ; you will feel immediately the distinction in 
point of sentiment. 

Tlie procession of chanting angels Avliich once sur- 
mounted the organ in tlie Duomo of Florence is a 
perfect example of musical angels applied to the pur- 
pose of decoration. Perhaps it was well to remove this 
exquisite work of art to a place of saiety, wliere it can 
be admired and studied as a work of art ; but the re- 
moval has taken from it the appropriate expression. 
How they sing ! — when the tones of the organ burst 
forth, we might have fancied we heard their divine 
voices through the stream of sound ! The exc^uisite 
little bronze choristers round the high altar of St. An- 
tonio in Padua are another example ; Florentine in 
elegance of form, Venetian in sentiment, intent upon 
their own sweet song ! 

There is a third function ascribed to these angelic 
natures, Avhich brings tlicm even nearer to our sym- 
pathies : they are the deputed guardians of the just and 
innocent. St. Raphael, whose story I shall presently 
relate, is the prince of the guardian angels. The Jews 
held that the angels deputed to Lot were his guardian 
angels. t The fathers of the Christian Church taught 
that every human being, from the hour of his birth to 
that of his death, is accompanied by an angel appointed 
to watch over him. The Mahometans give to each of 
us a good and an evil angel ; but the early Christians 
supposed us to be attended each by a good angel only, 
who undertakes that office, not merely from duty to 
God, and out of obedience and great humility, hut as 
inspired by exceeding charity and love towards his 
human charge. It would require the tongues of angels 
themselves to recite all that we owe to these benign and 
vigilant guardians. They watch by the cradle of the 

* In the Frari at Venice. t Gen. xviii., xlviii. 16. 



new-[)orn babe, and spread their celestial winjrs round 
the tottcrinji: stej)s of infancy. If the path of life be 
difficult and tliorny, and evil spirits woiic us shame 
and woe, tiiey sustain us ; they hear tlie voice of our 
comi)hiining, of our su])plication, of our repentance, ui> 
to the foot of God's throne, and bring us back in re- 
turn a i)itying benediction, to strengthen and to cheer. 
When })assion and temptation strive for the mastery, 
they encourage us to resist : when we conijuer, they 
crown us ; when wc falter and fail, they compassionate 
and grieve over us ; when we are obstinate in polluting 
our own souls, and perverted not only in act, but in 
will, they leave us, — and woe to them that are so left ! 
But the good angel docs not quit his charge until his 
protection is dcsjused, rejected, and utterly repudiated. 
Wonderful the fervor of their love, — wonderful their 
meekness and ]iationce, — who endure from day to day 
the spectacle of the unveiled human heart with all its 
miserable weaknesses and vanities, its inordinate desires 
and selfish purposes ! Constant to us in death, they 
contend against the powers of darkness for the emanci- 
pated spirit : they even visit the suffering sinner in 
purgatory ; they keep alive in the tormented spirit 
faith and hope, and remind him that the term of ex- 
piation will end at last. So Dante (Purg., c. viii.) 
re])rcsents the souls in purgatory as comforted in their 
misery; and (which has always seemed to mc a touch 
of sublime truth and tenderness) as rejoicing over those 
who were on earth conspicuous for the very virtues 
wherein tliemselves were deficient. When at length 
the repentant soul is surticiently purified, the guardian 
angel bears it to the bosom of the Saviour. 

The earlier painters and sculptors did not, appar- 
ently, make the same use of guardian angels that we 
so often meet with in Avorks of ]\rodcrn Art. Poetical 
allegories of angels guiding the steps of cliildhood, ex- 
tending a shield over innocence, watching by a sick-bed, 
do not, I think, occur before the seventeenth century ; 
at least I have not met with such. The ancient mas- 


ters, who reallr believed in the personal agency of our 
angelic guardians, beheld tbeni -witli awe and reverence, 
and reserved their presence for great and solemn occa- 
sions. The angel who presents the pious voiary lo 
Cinist or the Virgin, who crowns St. Ceciha and St. 
Valerian after their conquest over human weakness ; 
the angel who cleaves the air "Avith flight precipitant" 
to break the implements of torture, or to extend the 
palm to the dying martyr, victorious over pain ; the 
angels who assist and carrv in their arms the souls of 
the just ; are, in these and all similar examples, repre- 
sentations of guardian angels. 

Such, then, are the three great functions of the 
angelic host : they are Messengers, Choristers, and 
Guardians. But angels, without i-eference to their in- 
dividuality or their ministry, — with regard only to 
their species a. id their form, as the most beautiful and 
the most elevated of created essences, as intermediate 
between heaven and earth, — are introduced into all 
works of art which have a sacred purpose or character, 
and must be considered, not merely as decorative acces- 
sories, but as a kind of presence, as attendant witnesses ; 
and, like the chorus in the Greek tragedies, looking on 
where they are not actors. In architectural decoration, 
the cherubim with which Solomon adorned his temple 
have been the authority and example (1 Kings vi. 23). 
" "Within the oracle he made two cherubims, each ten 
cubits high, and with wings five cubits in length, [the 
angels in the old Christian churches on each side of the 
altar correspond with these cherubim,] and he over- 
laid the cherubims with gold, and carved all the walls 
of the house with carved figures of cherubims, and he 
made doors of olive-tree, and he carved on them figures 
of cherubims." So, in Christian art and architecture, 
angels, with their beautiful cinctured heads and out- 
stretched wings and flowing draperies, fill up every 
sjjace. The instances are so numerous that tliey will 
occur to every one who has given a thought to the sub- 


ject. I may mention the frieze of angels in Henry tho 
Seventh's Chapel, merely as an example at hand, and 
which can he relcrrod to at any moment ; also the 
angels round the choir of Lincoln Cathedral, of which 
there are line casts in the Crvstal Palace at Sydenham : 
and in some of the old churches in Saxony which 
clearly exhihit the influence of Byzantine Art, — for 
instance, at Frcyherj:-, ^Mcrsehurix, NaumijurL::, — aii^cls 
with outspread wings till up the spandrils of the arches 
along the nave. 

But, in the best ages of Art, angels were not merely 
em])loyed as dcc<M-ative accessories ; they had their ap- 
])ropriate ])lace and a solcnm signiticancc as a part of 
that theological system which the editice, as a whole, 

As a celestial host surrounding the throne of the 
Trinity; or of Christ, as redeemer or as judge; or of 
the Virgin in glory ; or the throned Mailoima and 
Child ; tlicir place is immediately next to the Divine 
Personages, and before the Evangelists. 

In what is called a Liturgy of angels, they figure in 
procession on each side of the choir, so as to have the 
ap[)earance of approaching the altar : they Avcar the 
stole and alba as deacons, and bear the implements of 
the mass. In the Cathedral of Kheiins there is a range 
of colossal angels as a grand i)roccssion along the vaults 
of the nave, who apjjcar as approaching the altar : 
these bear not only the gospel, the missal, the sacrsr 
mental cup, the ewer, the tapci', the cross, &c., but also 
the attributes of sovereignty celestial and terrestrial: 
one carries the sun, another the moon, a third the 
kingly sceptre, a fourth the globe, a fifth the sword ; 
and all these, as they approach the sanctuary, they 
seem about to jilace at the feet of Christ, who stands 
there as priest and king in glory. Statues of angels 
in an attitude of worsliip on each side of the altar, 
as if adoring the sacrifice, — or bearing in triumph 
the instruments of Christ's passion, the cross, the 
nails, the spear, the erown of thorns, — or carrying 


tapcvs, — are more common, and must be re2:ardc«l 
not merelr as decoration, but as a presence in the Jiigh 

In the Cathedral of Auxerre may lie seen angels 
attcndin;^ on the triumphant comiiii,^ of Christ; aiid, 
which is most singular, they, as Avell as Christ, are on 

When, in sulijects from Scripture history, angels 
figure not merely as attendants and spectators, but as 
personages necessary to the action, they are either 
ministers of the div ine wrath or of the divine mercy ; 
agents of destruction or agents of help and good coun- 
sel. As all these instances belong to the historical 
scenes of the Old or the New Testament, they will be 
considered separately, and I shall confine myself here 
to a few remarks on the introduction and treatment of 
angels in some subjects of peculiar interest. 

In relating " the expulsion of Adam and Eve from 
Paradise," it is not said that an angel was the imrac- 
diate agent of the divine wrath, but it is so re[)resentcd 
in works of Art. In the most ancient treatment I have 
met with,* a majestic armed angel drives forth the de- 
linquents, and a cherub with six wings stands as guard 
before the gate. I found the same Diotif in the sculp- 
tures on the facade of the Duomo at Orvieto, by Nic- 
colb Pisano. lu another instance, an ancient Saxon 
miniature, the angel is represented, not as driving them 
forth, but closing the door against them. But these 
are exceptions to the usual mode of treatment, which 
seldom varies : the angel is not represented in Avrath, 
but calm, and stretches forth a sword, which is often 
(literally rendering the text) a waving, lambent flame. 
I remember an instance in which the preternatural 
SAvord, " turning every way," has the form of a wheel 
of flames. 

An angel is expressly introduced as a minister of 
wrath in the story of Balaam, in which I have seen no 

* MS. 10th century, Paris, Bibl. Nationale. 


deviation from the obvious prosaic treatment, rendering 
the text literally, " and the ass saw the angel of the 
Lord standnig iu the way, and his sword drawn in his 

" The destroying angel, leaning from heaven, pre- 
sents to David three arrows, from whicii to choose, — 
war, pestilence, or famine." I have found this subject 
beautifully executed in several MSS., for instance, in 
the " Ileures d'Anne de Brctaguc " ; also iu pictures 
and in prints. 

" The destroying angel sent to chastise the arrogance 
of David is beheld standing between heaven and earth 
v/ith his sword stretched over Jerusalem to destroy it." 
Of this sublime vision I have never seen any but the 
meanest representations ; none of the great masters 
have treated it ; perhaps Tleml)randt might have given 
us the terrible aTid glorious angel standing like a shadow 
in the midst of iiis own intense irradiation, David fallen 
on his fiice, and the sons of Oman hiding themselves 
by their rude threshing-floor, with that wild mixture of 
the familiar and the unearthly in which he alone has 

" The chastisement of Heliodorus " has given occa- 
sion to the sublimest composition in which human 
genius ever attempted to embody the conception of the 
supernatural, — Raphael's fresco in the Vatican. St. 
Michael, the protecting angel of the Hebrew nation, is 
supposed to have been the minister of divine wrath on 
this occasion ; but Raphael, in omitting the wings, and 
all exagijeration or alteration of the human figure, has 
shown how unnecessary it was for Inm to have recourse 
to the prodigious and impossible in form, in order to 
give the supernatural in sentiment. The unearthly 
warrior and his unearthly steed, — the weapon in his 
hand, which is not a sword to pierce, uor a club to 
sa-ikc, but a sort of mace, of which, as it seems, a touch 
would annihilate ; the two attendant spirits, who come 
gliding above the marl)le floor, with their luiir streaming 
back with the rapidity of their aerial motion, — arc in 


the very spirit of Dante, and, as conceptions of super- 
human power, superior to anything in pictured form 
wliich Art has bequeathed to us. 

In calling' to mind tlie various representations of tlie 
angels of the Apocalypse let loose for destruction, one 
is tempted to exclaim, "O for a warning voice!" 
When the Muse of Milton quailed, and fell ten thou- 
sand fathom deep into Bathos, Avhat could be exjiectcd 
from human invention 1 In general, where this subject 
is attempted in pictures, we find the angels animated, 
like those of Milton in the war of heaA-en, with " fierce 
desire of battle," breathing vengeance, wrath, and fury. 
So Albert Durcr, in those wonderful scenes of his 
" Apocalypse," has exhibited them ; but some of the 
early Italians show them merely impassive, conquering 
almost Avithout effort, punishing Avithout anger. The 
immediate instruments of the Avrath of God in the day 
of judgment are not angels, but devils or demons, 
generally represented by the old painters Avith, every 
possible exaggeration of liideousness, and as taking a 
horrible and grotesque delight in their task. Tlie 
demons are fallen angels, their deformity a consequence 
of their fall. Thus, in some very ancient represen- 
tations of the expulsion of Lucifer and his rebel host, 
the deuradatioa of the form increases Avith their dis- 
tance from lieaA'cn.* Those avIio are uppermost are 
still angels ; they bear tlie aureole, the.Avings, and the 
tunic ; they have not yet lost all their original bright- 
ness : those beloAv them begin to assume the bestial 
form : the fingers become talons, the heads become 
horned ; and at last, as they touch the confines of the 
gulf of hell, the transformation is seen complete, from 
the luminous angel, into the abominable and monstrous 
devil, Avitk serpent tail, claAvs, bristles, and tusks. This 
gradual transformation, as they descend into the gulf 
of sin, has a striking allegorical significance which cau- 
not escape the reader. In a Greek jMS. of the ninth 

* JiIS. 13th century, Breviaire de St. Louis. 


rentury,* bearini^ si nebular traces of antique classical art 
in the conception and attriliutes of tlic tiirures, I found 
both anjicls and demons treated in a style quite peculiar 
and poetical. The angels arc here gigantic, majestic, 
Jove-like figures, with great wings. The demons are 
also majestic graceful "winged figures, but painted of a 
dusky gray color (it may originally liavc been black). 
In oue scene, where Julian the Apostate goes to seek 
the heathen divinities, they arc thus represented, that is, 
as black anrjels ; showing that the painter had here 
assumed the devils or demons to be the discrowned and 
fallen gods of the antique world. 

These are a few of the most striking instances of 
angels employed as ministers of wrath. Angels, as 
ministers of divine grace and mercy, — 

" Of all those acts which Deity supreme, 
Doth ease its heart of love in," — 

occur much more frequently. 

The ancient heresy, that God made use of the agency 
of angels in the creation of the world, and of mankind, 
I must notice here, because it has found its wav into 
Art; for example, in an old miniature which represents 
an angel having before him a lump of clay, a kind of 
ebaache of humanity, which he appears to be moulding 
w'ith his hands, while the Almiiihtv stands bv directing 
the work.f This idea, absurd as it may appear, is not 
perhaps more absurd than the notion of those who 
would represent the Great First Cause as always busied 
in fashioning or altering the forms in his visible crca- 
tion, like a i)otter or any other mechanic. But as we 
are occupied at present Avith the Scriptural, not tlie 
legendary subjects, I return to the Old Testament. 
The first time that we read of an angel sent as a mes- 
senger of mercy, it is for the comfort of poor Hagar ; 

* Paris, Bibl. Nat., Xo. 510. G. MS. 

t As in the legend of Prometheus. (Plato, Protag., p. 320.) 


when he found her weeping by the spring of water in 
the wilderness, because her mistress had aMicted her : 
and auain, when slie was cast forth and her"^joy fainted 
for thirst. In tlie representation of these subjects, I do 
not know a single instance in which the usual angelic 
form has not been adhered to. In the sacrifice of Isaac, 
" the angel of flie Lord calls to Al)raham out of 
heaven." This suhie.l, as the received type of the 
sacrifice of the Son of God, was one of the earliest in 
Christian Art. We find it on the sarcopliagi of the 
tliird and fourth centuries; but in one of the latest only 
have I seen a personage introduced as staying the hand 
of Abraham, and this personage is without wings. In 
painting, the angel is sometimes in the act of taking 
tlie sword out of Abraham's hand, which expresses the 
nature of his message : or he lays one hand on his arm, 
and with the otiier points to the ram which was to re- 
])lace the sacrifice, or brings the ram in his arms to the 
altar ; Init, whatever the action, the form of the angelic 
messenger has never A'aried from the sixth century. 

In the visit of the angels to Abraham, there has been 
a variety caused by the Avording of the text. It is not 
said that three angels visited Abraham, yet in most of 
the ancient representations the three celestial guests are 
Avinged angels. I need hardly observe that these three 
angels are assumed to be a figure of the Trinity, and 
in some old illuminations the interpretation is not left 
doubtful, the angels being characterized as the three 
persons of the Trinity, wearing each the cruciform 
niml)us : two of them, young and beardless, stand 
behind ; the tliird, representing the Father, has a beard, 
and, before Him, Abraham is prostrated. Beautiful 
for grace and simplicity is the winged group by Ghi' 
berti, in which the three seem to step and move together 
as one. jNIore modern artists have given us the celes- 
tial visitants merely as men. Pre-eminent in this style 
of conception are the pictures of Raphael and Murillo. 
Raphael here, as elsewhere, a true poet, has succeeded 
in conveying, Avith exc^uisite felicity, the sentiment of 


power, of a heavenly presence, and of a mysterious 
sijiuirtcance. Tlie three youths, who stand linked to- 
gether hand in hand hefore the Patriarch, with such an 
air of henign and superior grace, want no wings to 
show us that they belong to the courts of heaven, and 
have but just descended to earth, — 

" So lively shines 
In them divine resemblance, and such grace 
The hand that formed them ou thtir shape hath poured ! " 

Murillo, on the contrary, gives us merely three 
young men, travellers, and has set aside wholly 
both the angelic and the mystic character of the vis- 

The angels who descend and ascend the ladder in 
Jacob's dream arc in almost every instance represented 
in the usual form ; sometimes a few,t — sometimes in 
multitudes, { — sometimes as one onlv, who turns to 
bless the sleeper before he ascends ; § and the ladder is 
sometimes a flight, or a series of flights, of steps ascend- 
ing from earth to the empyrean. But here it is Rem- 
brandt who has shown himself the poet; the ladder is 
a slanting stream of light ; the angels are mysterious, 
bird-like, luminous forms, which emerge one after an- 
other from a dazzling fount of glory, and go floating 
up and down, — so like a dream made visible ! — In 
Middle- Age Art, this vision of Jacob occurs very rarely. 
I shall have to return to it when treating of the subjects 
from the Old Testament. 

In the New Testament angels are much more fre- 
quently alluded to than in the Old; more as a reality, 
less as a vision ; in fact, thei-e is no important even!; 
througiiout the Gospels and Acts in which angels do 
not appear, cither as immediate agents, or as visible and 

*■ Sutherland Gall-ry. 
t As iu Ilapiiaei's fresco in the Yatican. 

} As in the iiicture by Allston, painted for Lord Egremont, and 
now at Pet worth. 

§ As in a picture by F. Bol. 


present ; and in scenes where tliey are not distinctly 
said to be visibly present, they are assumed to be so in- 
visibly, St. Paul ]iavin<r said expressly that " their 
ministry is continual." It is therefore with undeniable 
])ropriety that, in works of Art rej/resenting the in- 
cidents of the Gospels, angels should fiirure as a per- 
petual presence, made visible under such forms as 
custom and tradition have consecrated. 

I pass over, for the present, the grandest, the most 
important mission of an angel, tlie announcement 
brought by Gabriel to the blessed Virgin. I shall 
Jiave to treat it fully liereafter.* The angel who 
appears to Joseph in a dream, and the angel who 
commands him to flee into Egypt, was in both cases 
probably the same angel who liaiied Mary as blessed 
above all Avomen ; but we arc not told so ; and accord- 
ing to some commentators it was the guardian angel 
of Joseph who appeared to him. In these and other 
scenes of the New Testament, in which angels are 
described as direct agents, or merely as a chorus of 
ministering attendants, they have the usual form, en- 
hanced bv as much beautv and beniirnitv and aerial 
grace as the fancy of the artist could bestow on them. 
In the Nativity they are seen hovering on high, pour- 
ing forth their song of triumpli ; tlicy hold a scroll in 
their hands on wliich their song is written ; in general 
there are three angels ; the first sings, Gloria in excehis 
Deo! the second, Et in terra pax! the tlurd, Flominihus 
home voluntatis ! but in some pictures the three angels 
are replaced by a numerous choir, who raise the song 
of triumph in the skies, while others are seen kneeling 
round and adoring the Divine Infant. 

The happiest, the most beautiful, instance I can re- 
member of this particular treatment is the little chapel 
in the Riccardi Palace at Florence. This chapel is in 
the form of a Greek cross, and the frescos are thus 
disposed : — 

* See " Legends of the Madonna." 




4 5 

3 1 
3 1 
3 1 

o o 


The walls 1, 2, and 3 arc painted with tlie jonrncy of 
tiie Wise Men, who, with a loni; train of attendants 
mounted on ]iorscl)ack and gorj^eously ajjparclled, are 
seen travellini^ over hill and dale led hy the guiding 
star. Over the altar was the Nativity (now removed) ; 
on -each side (4, 5) is seen a choir of angels, perhaps 
fifty in numher, rejoicing over the birth of the Re- 
deemer : some kneel in adoration, with arms folded 
over the bosom, others offer flowers ; some come dan- 
cing forward witli flowers in their hands or in the lap of 
their robe ; others sing and make celestial music : they 
have glories round their heads, all inscribed alike, 
" Gloria in excelsis Deo.". The naive gi*ace, the beau- 
tiful devout expression, the airy movements of these 
lovely beings, melt the soul to harmony and joy. The 
chapel having been long shut up, and its existence 
scarcely remembered, these paintings are in excellent 
pi'cservation ; and I saw nothing in Italy that more 
impressed me with admiration of the genuine feeling 
and piety of the old masters. The choral angels of 
Angelico da Fiesole already described arc not more 
pure in sentiment, and are far less animated, than 

* For several curious and interesting particulars relative to 
these subjects, see the '' Legends of the Madonna." 


But how different from both is the ministry of the 
anycls in some of the pictures of the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries, botii German and Itahau ! The 
Virgin Mary is wasliing her Divine Infant ; angels 
dry the clotlics, or pour out Avater ; Joseph is planing 
a board, and angels assist the Infant Saviour in sweep- 
ing up the chips. In a beautiful little INladonna and 
Child, iu Prince Wallcrsiein's collection, an angel is 
I)laving with the Divine Infant, is literally his phty- 
fallow ; a very graceful idea, of which I have seen but 
this one instance. 

In the Flight into Egypt, an angel often leads the 
ass. In the Riposo, a suljject rare before the fifteenth 
century, angels offer fruit and flowers, or bend down 
the branches of the date-tree, that Joseph may gather 
the fruit; or weave the choral dance, hand in hand, 
for the delight of the Infant Christ, Avhile others make 
celestial music, — as in Vandyck's beautiful picture in 
Lord Ashburton's collection. After the Temptation, 
they minister to the Saviotu* in the wilderness, and 
spread for him a table of refreshment, — 

"Celestial food divine, 
Ambrosial fruit, fetched from the tree of life, 
And from the fount of life ambrosial drink." 

It is not said that angels were visibly present at the 
baptism of Christ ; but it appears to me that they 
ought not, therefore, to be supposed absent, and tliat 
there is a propriety in making them attendants on this 
solemn occasion. They are not introduced in the very 
earliest examples, those in the catacombs and sarcoph- 
agi ; nor yet in the mosaics of Ravenna ; because 
angels were then rarely figured, and instead of the 
winged angel we have the sedge-croAvned river god, 
representing the Jordan. In the Greek formula, they 
are required to be present " in an attitude of respect " ; 
no mention is made of their holding the garments of 
our Saviour ; but it is certain that in Byzantine Art, 
and generally from the twelfth century, this has been 


the usual mode of rcpresentinj^ them. According to 
the Fathers, our Saviour had no guardian aiigei ; l)e- 
causc he did not require one : notwithstanding the 
sense usually given to the text, "He shall give Ids 
angels charge concerning thee, lest at any time thou 
dash thy foot against a stone," the angels, they affirm, 
were not the guardians, hut the servants, of' Christ ; 
and hence, I presume, the custom of representing 
them, not merely as present, but as ministering to 
him during the baptism. The gates of San I'aolo 
(tenth century) afford the most ancient example I 
have met with of an angel holding the raiment of 
the Saviour : there is only one angel. Giotto intro- 
duces two graceful angels kneeling on the bank of the 
river, and looking on with attention. The angel in 
Raphael's composition bows his head, as if awe-struck 
by the divine recognition of the majesty of the Re- 
deemer ; and the reverent manner in which he holds 
the vestment is very beautiful. Other examples will 
here suggest themselves to the reader, and I shall re- 
sume the subject when treating of the life of our Sav- 

In one account of our Saviour's agony in the garden 
of Gethsemane, it is ex[)ressly said that an angel "ap- 
peared unto him out of heaven, strengthening him " ; 
tlierefore, where this awful and pathetic subject has 
been attempted in Art, there is propriety in introdu- 
cing a visible angel. Notwithstanding the latitude thus 
allowed to the imagination, or perhaps for that very 
reason, the greatest and the most intelligent painters 
have here ftilien into strange errors, both in conception 
and in taste. For instance, is it not a manifest imjjro- 
pricty to take the Scripture ])hrase in a literal sense, 
and place a cup in the hand of the angel ? Is not the 
word cup here, as elsewhere, used as a metaphor, sig- 
nifying the destiny awarded by Divine will, as Christ 
had said before, " Ye shall drink of my cup," and as 
we say, "his cup overflowed with blessings"? The 


angel, therefore, who does not bend from heaven to 
announce to liiiu the decree he knew full Avell, nor to 
jtresent the cup of bitterness, but to strengthen and 
comfort him, should not bear the cup ; — still less the 
cross, the scourge, the crown of thorns, as in manj'' 

Where our Saviour appears bowed to the earth, 
prostrate, half swooning with the anguish of that 
dread moment, and an angel is seen sustaining him, 
there is a true feeling of the real meaning of Scrip- 
ture ; but even in such examples the efiect is often 
spoiled by an attempt to render tlie scene at once 
more mystical and more palpable. Thus a ]jainter 
equally remarkable for the pnrity of his taste and 
deep religious feeling, Xiccolo Poussin, has represented 
Christ, in his agony, sup])orted in the arms of an 
angel, while a crowd of child-angels, very much like 
Cupids, appear before him with the instruments of the 
Passion ; ten or twelve bear a huge cross ; others hold 
the scourge, the crown of thorns, the nails, the sponge, 
the spear, and exhibit them before him, as if these were 
the images, these the terrors, Mhich could overwhelm 
with fear and anguish even the human nature of such 
a Being ! * It seems to me also a mistake, Avhen the 
angel is introduced, to make him merely an accessory 
(as Raphael has done in one of his early pictures), a 
little figure in the air to help the meaning : since the 
occasion was worthy of angelic intervention, in a visi- 
ble shape, bringing divine solace, divine sympathy, it 
should be represented under a form the most mighty 
and the most benign that Art could compass ; — but 
lias it been so 1 I can recollect no instance in which 
the failure has not been complete. If it be said that to 
render the angelic comforter so superior to the sorrow- 
ing and prostrate Iledeemer would be to detract from 
His dignity as the princi[)al personage of the scene, 
and thus violate one of the first rules of Art, I think 

* The picture is, I suspect, pot *.>y Pou«siu. but by Stella. There 
is another, similar, by Guido ; Louvre 106"/. 



difFercntly, — T think it oonUI do so only in unskilful 
liauds. Kc)>iX'.senic.l as \i, oiij:lit to l)c, and might l»c, 
it would iiiliuiioly culuiucc the idea of that uniinaixina- 
hla anj^uish which, as we are told, was compounded of 
the iniquities and sorrows of all humanity laid upon 
Jliiii. It was not the Jiang of the ^NLortal, hut the Im- 
murral, which I'etpiired the presence of a ministering 
spirit sent down from heaven to sustain him. 

l.i the Crucifixion, angels are scon lamenting, wring- 
in.; their hands, averting or hiding their faces. In the 
old Greek crucifixions, one angel i)oars the sun, an- 
other the moon, ou each side of the cross : — 

" Dim sadness did uot spare, 
That time, celestial visages." 

Michael Angelo gives us two unwinged colossal-look- 
ing angel heads, wliicli peer out of heaven in the back- 
ground of his Crucitixion in a manner truly supernat- 
ural, as if they sympathized iu the consummation, but 
in awe rather than in grief. 

Angels also receive in golden cups the blood which 
flows ft-ora the wounds of our Saviour. This is a rep- 
resentation wliicli has the authority of some of the most 
distinguished and most spiritual among the old paint- 
ers, but it is to my taste particularly iinpleasing and 
unpoetical. Ivaphael, in an early picture, the only cru- 
cilixion he ever painted, thus introduces the angels ; 
and this form of tlie angelic ministry is a mystical ver- 
sion of the sacriticc of the Redeemer not uncommon in 
Italian and German pictures of the sixteenth century. 

As the Scriptural and legendary scenes in wliich 
angels form the poetical machinery will be discussed 
hereafter in detail as separate subjects, I shall conclude 
these general and preliminary remarks with a few words 
on the characteristic style in which the principal paint- 
ers have set forth the angelic forms and attributes. 

It appeai-s that, previous to the end of the fourth 
century, there were religious scruples which forbade 
the representation of angels, arising perhaps from the 


scandal caused in the early Church by the worship 
paid to these supernatural beings, and so strongly ojj- 
poscd by the primitive tcaclicrs. We do not Und on 
any of the Christian relics of the first three centuries, 
neither in the catacombs, nor on the vascs^or the sar- 
cophagi, any figure which could be supposed to repre- 
sent what we call an angel. On one of the hatcst sar- 
copliagi, we find little winged figures, but evidently the 
classical winged genii, used in the classical manner as 
ornament only.* In the second council of Ni(C, Jolm 
of Thessalonica maintained tliat angels have the lumiav. 
form, and may bo so represented ; and the Jewish doc- 
tors had previously decided that God consulted his 
angels when he said, " Let us make man after our 
image," and that consequently we may suppose the 
angels to be like men, or, in the Mords of tl:e prophet, 
" like unto the similitude of the sons of men." f (Dan. 
X. 16.) 

But it is evident that, in the first attempt at angelic 
effigy, it was deemed necessary, in giving the human 
shape, to render it as superhuman, as imposing, as 
possible : colossal proportions, mighty overshadoAving 
wings, kingly attributes, these we find in the carHest 
iigures of angels which I belicA^e exist, — the mosaics 
ia the church of Santa Agata at Ravenna (a. d. 400). 
Christ is seated on a throne (as in tiie early sarcoph- 
agi) : he holds the Gospel in one hand, and Avith tie 
left gives the benediction. An angel stands on ea( h 
side : they have large wings, and bear a silver wand, 
the long sceptre of the Grecian kings ; they are robed 
in classical drapery, but wear the short pallium (the 
"garb succinct for flight"); their feet are sandalled, 
as prepared for a journey, and their hair bound by a 
fillet. Except in the Avings and short pallium, they 
resemble the figures of Grecian kings and priests in 
the ancient bas-reliefs. 

This was the truly majestic idea of an angelic pres- 

* Ciampini, p. 131. a. d. 394. t Greek MS. a. d. 86'- 

ANGELS. 8 1 

encc (in contradistinction to the angelic e/wW^'w), which, 
well or ill executed, prevailed during the first ten cen- 
turies. In the MS.* already referred to as containing 
sujh magnificent examples of this Godlike form and 
bearing, one group less ruined than most of the others 
is Jacob wrestling with the angel. The drawing is 
wonderful for the period, that of Charlemagne. The 
mighty Being grasps the \)n\\\ mortal, who was per- 
mitted for a while to resist him ! — " He touched the 
hollow of Jacob's thigh, and it was out of joint," — 
the action is as significant as possible. The drapery 
of the angel is white ; the fillet binding the hair, the 
sandals, and the wings, of purple and gold. 

From the eleventh to the thirteenth century the 
forms of the angels became, like all things in the then 
degraded state of Byzantine xVrt, merely conventional. 
Tiieyare attired either in the imperial or the sacerdotal 
vestments, as already described, and are richly orna- 
mented, tasteless and stiff, large without grandeur, and 
in general ill drawn. 

On the revival of Ai-t, avc find the Byzantine idea 
of angels everywhere prevailing. The angels in Ci- 
ma!)U'ji's famous " Virgin and Child enthroned " are 
grand ci-eatures, rather stem ; but this arose, I think, 
from his inability to express beauty. The colossal 
angels at Assisi (a.d. 1270), solemn scejitred kingly 
forms, all alike in action and attitude, apjxiared to me 

In the angels of Giotto (a.d. 1310) we see tlie com- 
mencement of a softer grace and a purer taste, further 
developed l)y some of his scholars. Benozzo Gozzoli 
and Orcagna have left in the Campo Santo examples of 
the most graceful and fanciful treatment. Of Benozzo's 
angels in the Riccai*di palace I have spoken at length. 
His master Angelico (worthy the name !) never reached 
tlie same power of expressing the rapturous rejoicing 
of celestial beings, but his conception of the angelic 

* Paris, Bib. Xat., No. 510. 


nature remains unappi'oached, unapproachable (a. d. 
1430} ; it is only his, for it was the iieutlc, passionless, 
refined nature of the recluse which stamped itself there. 
Angelico's anj^els are unearthly, not so much in form 
as in sentiment ; and superhuman, not in power, but 
in purit3\ In other hands, any imitation of liis soft 
ethereal grace would become feeble and insijjid. With 
their long robes falling round their feet, and drooping 
many-coloi-ed Avings, they seem not to fly or to walk, 
but to float along, " smooth sliding without step " 
Blessed, blessed creatures ! love us, only love us, — for 
wc dare not task your soft, serene Beatitude by asking 
you to help us ! 

There is more sympathy with humanity in Francia's 
angels : they look as if they could weep, as well as 
love and sing. 

Most beautiful are the groups of adoring angels by 
Francesco Granacci,* so serenely tender, yet with a 
touch of grave earnestness which gives them a character 
apart : they have the air of guardian angels, who have 
discharged their trust, and to wliom the Supreme utter- 
ance has voiced forth, " Servant of God, well done ! " 

The angels of Botticelli are often stiff", and those of 
Ghirlandajo sometimes fantastic ; but in both I have 
met with angelic countenances and forms which, for in- 
tense and happy expression, can never be forgotten. 
One has tlie feeling, however, tliat they used human 
models, — the portrait face looks th.rough the ancjel face. 
This is still more apparent in Mantegna and Filippo 
Lippi. As we might have expected from the character 
of Fra Filip])0, his angels want refinement : they have 
a boyish look, with their crisp curled hair, and their 
bold beauty ; yet some of them are magnificent for 
that sort of angel-beings supposed to have a volition of 
their own. Andrea del Sarto's angels have the same 
fault in a less degree ; they have, if not a bold, yet a 
self-willed boyish expression. 

* In the Academy at Florence : they must have formed the side 
wings tj aa euthroaed Madonna and Child. 


Pcnijrino's anjrels convey the idea of an unalteral>lc 
sweetness : those of his earlier time have much natural 
grace, those of his hitcr time are mannered. In early 
Venetian Art the angels arc charming; : they are hapity, 
affectionate heinprs, with a touch of that volu])tuous 
sentiment afterwards the characteristic of the ^'enetian 

In the contemporary German school, anfrels are 
treated in a very extraordinary and orirrinal style. 
One cannot say that they are earthly, or cowinion- 
place, still less are they heautiful or divine ; hut they 
have .i,aeat simplicity, earnestness, and energy of action. 
They appear to me conceived in the Old Testament 
spirit, with their grand, stiff, massive draperies, their 
jewelled and golden glories, their wings " eyed like the 
peacock, speckled like the pard," their intense expres- 
sion, and the sort of persoiuil and ptissionate interest 
they throw into their ministry. This is the character 
of Alhert Durer's angels especially ; those of Martin 
Schoen and Lucas v. Lt'vden are of a gentler spirit. 

Leonardo da Vinci'^ angels do not quite jilease me, 
elegant, refined, and lovely as they are : — " metiiiiiks 
they smile too much." By his scholar Luini there are 
some angels in the gallery of the Brera, sv, inging cen- 
sers and playing on musical instruments, which, Avith 
the peculiar character of tlie Mihmese school, combine 
all the grace of a purer, loftier nature. 

Correggio's angels are grand and -lovely, but they 
are like cliildren enlarged and sublimated, not like 
spirits taking tlie form of children : where they smile 
it is truly, as Annibal Caracci expresses it, " con una 
naturakzza e simplicita eke innamora e sforza a riders con 
loro " ; but the smile in many of Con-eggio's angel 
heads has somethmg sublime and spiritual, as well as 
aunph and natural. 

And Titian's angels impress me in a similar manner 

— I mean those in the glorious Assumption at Venice 

— with their childish forms and features, but Avith an 
expression caught from beholding the face of " our 


Father that is in heaven " : it is glorified infancy. I 
remember standinj^ before this picture, contem])latin^ 
tliose lovely S])irits one after auotlier, iiniil a li.rill 
came over me like that which I felt when Mendelssohn 
played the origan, and I became music while I listened. 
The face of one of those angels is to the face of ii ihild 
just what that of the Virgin in the same picture is com- 
pared with the fairest of the daughters of earth : it is 
not here superiority of beauty, but mind and music 
and l(f^e, hnwded, as it were, into form and color. 

I have thought it singular, and somewhat unaccount- 
able, that among the earliest examples of undraped boy- 
angels are those of Fra Bartolonieo, — he who on one 
occasion, at the command of Savonarola, made a bon- 
fire of all the undressed figures be could lay his hands 

But Eaphael, excelling in all things, is here excel- 
lent al)ove all : his angels coml)ine, in a higher degree 
than any other, tlie various faculties and attributes iu 
which the fancy loves to clothe these pure, immortal, 
beatified creatures. The angels of Giotto, of Benox/o, 
of Fiesole, are, if not female, feminine ; those of Filippo 
Lippi, and of Andrea Mantegna, masculine ; but you 
cannot say of those of Ivaphael that they are masculine 
or feminine. The idea of sex is wholly lost in the 
blending of power, intelligence, and grace. In his 
earlier pictures grace is the predominant characteristic, 
as in the dancing and singing angels in his Coronation 
of the Virgin.* In his later pictures the sentiment in 
his ministering angels is more spiritual, more dignified. 
As a perfect example of grand and poetical feeling, I 
may cite the angels as " Eegents of the Planets," in the 
Capella Chigiana.t The cupola represents in a circle 
the creation of the solar system, according to the theo- 
logical and astronomical (or rather astrological) notions 
which then prevailed, — a hundred years before " tlie 
starry Galileo and his woes." In the centre is the 

* Gallery of the Vatican. t S. Maria del Popolo, Rome. 


Creatoi' ; around, in eight compartments, we have, 
first, tlie aniicl of tfie celestial sphere, who seems to be 
hsteniug to the divine mandate, " Let there be lights 
ill the firmament of heaven " ; then follow, in tlieir 
order, the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, 
Jupiter, and Saturn. The uame of each planet is ex- 
pressed by its mythological re])reseiuative ; the ISun 
by Apollo, the Moon by Diana : and over each pre- 
sides a grand colossal winged spirit seated or reclining 
on a portion of the zodiac as on a throne. The union 
of the theological and the mythological attributes is in 
the classical taste of tiie time, and quite ^liltonic* In 
Raphael's child-angels, the expression of power and 
intelligence, as well as innocence, is quite wonderful; 
for instance, look at the two angel-boys in the Dresden 
Madonna di San Sisto, and the angels, or celestial 
genii, who bear along the Almighty when he aj)pears 
to Noah.t No one has expressed like Raphael the 
action of flight, except perhaps Rembrandt. The 
angel who descends to crown Santa Felicita cleaves 
the air with the action of a swallow ; t and the anwl 
in Rembrandt's Tobit soars like a lark with upward 
motion, spurning tlie earth. 

Michael Angelo rarely gave wings to his angels ; I 
scarcely I'ccollect an instance, except the angel in the 
Aniumciation : and his exaggerated human forms, his 
colossal creatures, in which the idea of power is con- 
veyed through attitude and muscular action, are, to mv 
taste, Avorse than unplcasing. My admiration for this 
wonderful man is so profound that I can afford to say 
this. His angels are superhuman, but hardly angelic : 

* The mosaics in the dome of the Chigi chapel are so ill lighted 
that it is diliicuU to observe them iu detail, but they have lately- 
been rendered cheaply accessible in the fine set of engravings by 
Gruner, an artist who in our day has revived the pure and correct 
design and elegant execution of Marc Antonio. 

t As in the fresco in the Vatican. 

\ See the engraving under this title by Marc Antonio ; it is prop- 
erly St. Cecilia, and not St. Felicite. 


and while in Raphael's anf^els we do not feel the want 
of wings, we feel while looking at those of JMieliael 
Angelo that not even the " sail-broad vans " witli which 
8atau labored through the surging abyss of chaos 
eould suffice to lift those Titanic forms from earth., and 
sustain them in mid-air. The group of angels over 
the Last Judgment, flinging their mighty limbs about, 
and those that surround the descending figure of Clu-ist 
in the conversion of St. Paid, may be referred to 
here as characteristic examjdes. The angels, blowing 
their trumpets, putf and strain like so many troopers. 
Surely this is not angelic : there may be power, great 
imaginative and artistic power, exhibited in the con- 
ception of form, hut in the beings themselves there is 
more of effort than of power : serenity, tranquillity, 
beatitude, ethereal purity, spiritual grace, are out of the 

The later followers of his school, in their angelic as 
in tlieir human forms caricatured their great master, 
and became, to an offensive degree, forced, extravagant, 
and sensual. 

"When we come to the revival of a better taste under 
the influence of the Caracci, Ave find the angels of that 
school as far removed from the early Christian types as 
were their apostles and martyrs. They have often great 
beauty, consummate elegance, but bear the same rela- 
tion to the religious and ethereal types of the early 
painters that the angels of Tasso bear to those of Dante. 
Turn, for instance, to the commencement of the Ge- 
rusalemme Liberata, where the angel is deputed to carry 
io Godfrey the behest of the Supreme Being'. The 
picture of the angel is distinctly and poetically brought 
before us ; he takes to himself a form between boyhood 
and youth ; his waving curls are crowned with beams 
of light ; he puts on a pair of wings of silver tipped 
with gold, with which lie cleaves the air, the clouds, 
the skies ; he alights on Mount Lebanon, and poises 
liimself on his balanced wings, — 


■' E si libro su 1' adefniate penne." 

This is exactly the angel which fiLTures in the best 
])ictiiiv.s of the Caracci and Guiilo : he is supremely 
elegant, and nuthinj^ more. 

I must not here venture on minute criticism, as re- 
gards distinctive character in the crowds of painters 
which sprung out of the eclectic sdiool. It would 
carry us too far ; but one or two general remarks will 
lead the reader's fancy along the path I would wish 
liim to pursue. I would say, tlierefore, that the angels 
of Ludovico have more of sentiment, those of Annibal 
more of j)ower, those of Guido more of grace : and of 
Guido it may be said that he excels them all in the 
expression of adoration and humility ; see, for instance, 
the adoring seraphs in Lord Ellesmere's " Immaculate 
CoiK'ei)rion." The angels of Domenichino, Guercino, 
and Ali)aao are to mc less pleasing. I^omenichino's 
angels are msrely human. I never saw an angel in 
one of Guercino's pictures that had not, with the merely 
human character, a toucli of vulgarity. As for Albano, 
how are we to discriminate between liis angels and his 
nymplis, ApoUos, and Cupids ? But for the occasion 
and the appellation, it would be quite impossible to 
distinguish the Loves that sport round Venus and 
Adonis from, the Cherubim, so called, that hover 
above a Nativity or a Ri])Oso ; and the little angels, in 
liis Crucifixion cry so like naughty little boys, that 
one longs to put them in a corner. This merely 
heathen grace and merely human sentiment is the 
general tendency of the whole school : and no beautv 
of form or color can, to the feeling and religious mind, 
redeem such gross violations of propriety. As for 
Poussin, of whom I think with due reverence, his 
angels arc often exquisitely beautiful and refined : they 
have a chastity and a moral gi-ace which pleases at 
first view ; but here again the Scriptural type is neg- 
lected and heathenized in obedience to the fashion of 
the time. If we compare the Cupids in his Kinaldo 
and Armida with the angeLs which minister to the 


Virj:m and Cliild, or the Cherubim weeping in a 
Deposition wit'i the Amorini Avho are lamenting over 
Adonis, i;i w!iat respect do tliey ditlcr ? They are 
evidently painted from the same models, — the beautiful 
children of Titian and Flamingo. 

Rubens gives us strong, Avcll-iniilt youths, with re- 
dundant yellow hair ; and clmbliy, naked babies, as 
like flesh and blood, and as natural, as the life : and 
those of Vandyck ai'e more elegant, without being more 
anj^elio. Murillo's child-anirels are divine, throufjh 
absolute beauty ; the expression of innocence and beati- 
tude was never more perfectly given ; but in grandeur 
and power they are inferior to Correggio, and, in all 
that should characterize a diviner nature, immeasurably 
below Raphael. 

Strange to say, the most poetical painter of angels 
in the seventeenth century is that ins])ired Dutchman, 
Reml)randt ; not that his angels are Scrijitural, still 
less classical ; and beautiful they are not, certainly, — 
often the reverse; but if they have not the iNliltonic 
dignity and grace, they are at least as unearthly and 
as poetical as any of the angelic phantasms in Dante, 

— unhuman, unembodied creatures, compounded of 
light and darkness, " the somewhat between a thovght 
and a thiiu/," haunting the memory like api:)aritions. 
For instance, look at his Jacob's Dream, at Dulwich ; 
or his etching of the Angels appearing to the Shepherds, 

— bi-eaking through the night, scattering the gloom, 
making our eyes ache with excess of glory, — the 
Gloria in excelsis ringing through the fancy while we 

I have before observed that angels are supposed to 
be masculine, with the feminine attributes of beauty 
and purity ; but in the seventeenth century the Floren- 
tine painter, Giovanni di S. Giovanni, scandalized his 
contemporaries by introducing into a glory round the 
Virgin female angels [angelesse). Rubens lias more 
than once committed the same fault against ecelesi- 

a^\g/:ls. 89 

astical canoiia ami dcc-oruin ; for instance, in his Ma- 
(l(^ima " aiix Aii::;c's" in the Louvre. Such aberrations 
ot fancy arc mere caprices of the painter, improprieties 
inailmissiljle in hi«,^h art. 

Of the sprawling,* fluttcrinfr, half-naked angels of tlie 
Pietro (la Cortona and Bernini school, and the feehle 
mannerists of the seventeenth and eiuhteenth centuries, 
what shall be said .' that they are worthy to illustrate 
Moore's Loves of the Angels ? " non rar/ioniam di lor " ; 
no, nor even IcmjIc at them ! I iiave seen angels of the 
later Italian and Spanish painters more like opcra- 
• lanccrs, witli artificial wings ami gauze draperies, 
dressed to figure in a ballet, than anything else I could 
lO'.npare them to. 

Tiie most original, and, in trutli, the only new and 
original version of the Scripture idea of angels which 
I have met with, is that of William Blake, a poet 
painter, somewhat mad as we are told, if indeed his 
madness were not rather "tlie telescope of truth," a sort 
of poetical clairvoyance, bringing the unearthly nearer 
to him than to others. His adoring angels float ratlicr 
than fly, and, with their half-liquid draperies, seem about 
to dissolve into liglit and love : and his rejoicing an- 
gels — behold them — sending up their voices with the 
morning stars, that "singing, in their glory move !" 

As regards the treatment of angels in the more re- 
cent productions of art, the ])ainters and sculptors have 
generallv adhered to receivX'd and known tvpes in form 
and in sentiment. The angels of the old Italians, 
Giotto and Frate Angelico, have been very well imi- 
tated by Stciiile and others of the German school : the 
RafFaeles'pie feeling has been in general aimed at by 
the French and English painters. Tenerani had the 
old mosaics in his mind when he conceived that mag- 
nificent colossal Angel of the Resurrection seated on a 
tomb, and waiting for the signal to sound his trumpet, 
wliich I saw in his atelier, prepared I believe for the 
monument of the Duchess Lanti.* 

* It is no«' in thj Lanti chapel in the church of the Lateran. 


I pause here, for I have dwelt iipon these celestial 
Hierarchies, winged Splendors, Princedoms, Virtues, 
Powers, till my fancy is becoming somewhat mazed 
and dazzled l)y the contemplation. I must leave the 
reader to go into a picture-gallery, or look over a port- 
foUo of engravings, and so pursue the theme, Avhither- 
soever it may lead him, and it may lead hrm, in Ham- 
let's words, "to thoughts beyond the reaches of his 
soul ! " * 

* Mr. Ruskin remarks very truly, that in early Christian art 
there is " a certain confidence, in the way in wliich angels trust 
to their wings, very characteristic of a period of bold and simple 
conception. Modern science has taught us that a wing cannot be 
anatomically joined to a shoulder •, and in proportion as painteis 
approach more and more to the scientific, as distinguished fr(jm 
the contemplative state of mind, they put the wings of their 
angels on more timidly, and dwell with greater emphasis on the 
human form, with less upon the wings, until these last become a 
species of decorative appendage, a mere sign of an angel. But 
in Giotto's time an angel was a complete creature, as much be- 
lieved in as a bird, and the way in which it would or might cast 
itself into the air, and lean hither and thither on its plumes, was 
as naturally apprehended as the manner of flight of a chough or a 
starling. Hence Dante's simple and most exquisite synonyme for 
angel, ' Bird of God ' 5 and hence also a variety and picturesque- 
ness in the expi-ession of the movements of the heavenly hierar- 
chies by the earlier painters, ill replaced by the powers of fore- 
shortening and throwing naked limbs into fantastic positions, 
which appear in the cherubic groups of later times." 


" The Seven 
Who in God's presence, nearest to his throne, 
Stand reaily at command." 


ATIXG treated of the celestial Iliorarchr 
in g-eneral, we have now to consider those 
anj^els who in artistic representations have 
assumed an individual form and character. 
These belong to the order of Archangels, placed by 
Dionysius in the third Hierarchy : they take rank 
between the Prin^-edoms and the Angels, and partake 
of the nature of both, being, like the Princedoms, 
Powers ; and, like the Angels, ^Ministers and Messen- 

Frequent allusion is made in Scriptnre to the Seven 
Angels wlio stand in the presence of God. (Rev. viii. 
2, XV. 1, xvi. 1, &f. ; Tobit xxii. 15.) This was in 
accordance witli the popular creed of the Jews, who 
not only acknowledged the supremacy of the Seven 
Spirits, but assigned to them distinct vocations and 
distinct appellations, each terminating with the syllable 
El, which signifies God. Thus we have, — 

I. Michael (i. e. Avho is like unto God), captain- 
general of the host of heaven, and protector of the 
Hebrew nation. 

II. Gabriel (i. e. God is my strength), guardian 
of the celestial treasury, and preceptor of the patriarch 


III. Raphael, (i. c the medicine of God), the con- 
ductor of Tobit ; thence the chief frnai'dian anael- 

IV. Ukikl (i. e. the light of God), who taught 
Esdras. He was also regent of the sun. 

V. Chamuel (i. e. one who sees God ?), who wres- 
tled with Jacob, and who aj^pcared to Christ at Geth- 
seniane. (But, according to other authorities, this was 
the angel Gabriel.) 

VI. JopiiiEL (i. e. the beauty of God), who was 
the pi'eccptor of the sons cf Noali, and is the protector 
of all those who, with an huinl)lc heart, seek after 
truth, and the enemy of those who pursue vain knowl- 
edge. Thus Jophiel was naturally considered as the 
guardian of the tree of knowledge, and the same who 
drove Adam and Eve from Paradise. 

VII. Zadkiel (i. e. the righteousness of God), Avho 
stayed the hand of Abraham when about to sacrifice 
his son. (But, according to other authorities, this was 
the archangel Michael.) 

The Cln-istian Church docs not acknowledge these 
Seven Angels by name ; neitlier in the East, where 
the worship of angels took deep root, nor yet in the 
West, where it has been tacitly accepted. Nor have I 
met with them as a series, hy name, in any ecclesiastical 
work of art, though I have seen a set of old anony- 
mous prints in which they appear with distinct names 
and attributes : Michael bears the sword and scales ; 
Gabriel, the lily ; Raphael, the pilgrim's staff and 
gourd full of water, as a traveller. Uriel has a roll 
and a book : he is the interpreter of judgments and 
prophecies, and for this purpose was sent to Esdras : 
" The angel that was sent unto me, whose name was 
Uriel, gave me an answer." (Esdras ii. 4.) And in 
Milton, — 

"Uriel, foi- thou of those Seven Spirits that stand 
In sight of Gotl's high throne, gloriously bright, 
The first art wont his great authentic will 
Interpreter through highest heaven to bring." 

According to an early Christian tradition, it was this 



ani^cl, and not Christ in person, who accompanied the 
two disciples to Einmaus. Chainucl is i'e])rescntcd 
with a cup and a statl"; Jophiel with a flaminj^ sword, 
Zadkicl bears the sacrificial knife whieli he took from 
the liand of Abraham. 

But the Seven Angels, without being distinf::uished 
by name, arc occasionally introduced into works of art. 
For example, over tlic arch of the choir in San Mi- 
chele, at Ravenna (a. d. 545), on each side of tho 
throned Saviour arc the Seven Angels blowing trum- 
pets like cow's horns : " And I saw the Seven An- 
gels which stand before God, and to them were given 
seven trumpets." (Rev. viii. 2, 6.) In representations 
of the Crucifixion and in the Pieta, the Seven Angels 
arc often seen in attendance, bearing the instruments 
of the Passion. Michael bears the cross, for he is 
" the Bannerer of heaven " ; but I do not feel certain 
of the particular avocations of the others." 

In tlie Last Judgment of Orcagna, in the Campo 
Santo at Pisa, the Seven Angels are active and im- 
portant personages. The angel who stands in the 
centre of the picture, below the throne of Christ, ex- 
tends a scroll in each hand ; on that in the right hand 
is inscribed " Come, ye blessed of my Father," and on 
that in the left hand, '' Depart from me, ye accursed": 
him I suppose to be Michael, the angel of judgment. 
At his feet crouches an angel who seems to shrink 
from the tremendous spectacle, and liides his face: liim 
I suppose to be Raphael, the guardian angel of hu- 
manity. The attitude has always been admired, — 
cowering with horror, yet sublime. Beneath are other 
five angels, who are engaged in separating the just 
from the Avicked, encouraging and sustaining the foi*- 
mer, and driving the latter towards the demons who 
are ready to snatch them into flames. These Seven 
Angels have the garb of princes and warriors, with 
bi-eastplates of gold, jewelled sword-belts and tiaras, 
rich mantles ; while the other angels who figure in the 
same scene are plumed and bird-like, and hover above 
Ijearing the instruments of the Passion. 


Again we may sec the Seven Angels in quite an- 
other character, atteuding on St. Thomas Aquinas, in 
a picture by Taddeo Gaddi.* Here, instead of the 
instruments of the Passion, they bear the allegorical 
attributes of those virtues for which that famous saint 
and doctor is to be reverenced : one bears an olive- 
branch, i. e. Peace ; the second, a book, i. e. Knowl- 
edge; the third, a crown and sceptre, i. e. Power; the 
fourth, a church, i. e. Religion ; the fifth, a cross and 
shield, i. e. Faith ; the sixth, flames of fire in each- 
hand, i. c. Pietv and Charitv; the seventh, a lilv, i.'C. 

In general it may be presumed when seven angels 
figure together, or are distinguished from among a host 
of angels by dress, stature, or other attributes, that these 
represent " the Seven Holy Angels who stand in the 
presence of God." Four only of these Seven Angels 
are individualized by name, Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, 
and Uriel. According to the Jewish tradition, these 
four sustain the throne of the Almighty : they have the 
Greek epithet arch, or chief, assigned to them, from the 
two texts of Scrijiture in which that title is used 
(1 Thess. iv. 16; Judeix.); but only the three first, 
who in Scripture have a distinct personality, are rever- 
enced in the Catholic Church as saints ; and their 
gracious beauty, and their divine prowess, and their 
liitrh behests to mortal man, have furnished some of 
the most important and most poetical sulyects which 
appear in Christian Ait. 

The earliest instance I have met of the Archangels in- 
troduced by name into a work of art is in the old church 
of San Michele at Ravenna (a. d. 545). The mosaic 
in the apse exhibits Christ in the centre, bearing in one 
hand the cross as a trophy or sceptre, and in the other 
an open book on which arc the words " Qui videt vie 
videt et Patrcm meum." On each side stand Michael 
and Gabriel, with A^ast wings and long sceptres ; their 
names are inscribed above, but without the Sanctus and 

* A. D. 1352, Florence, S. Maria Novella. 


rithout tlie Glow. It appeal's, therefore, that at this 
time, the miildie of the sixth century, the title of Saint, 
thouirh in use, had not been given to the Arclian-cls. 

When, in the ancient churclies, the Hgure of Christ 
or of the Lamb appears in a circle or glory in tlie cen- 
tre of the roof; and around, or at the foiu* corners, 
four angels Avho sustain the circle with outspread arms, 
or stand as watchers, with sceptres or lances in their 
liands, these I presume to be the four Ai-changels " who 
sustain the throne of God." Examples may be seen 
in San Vitale at Ravenna ; in the cha])el of San Zeno, 
in Santa Prassede at Rome ; and on the roof of the 
choir of San Francesco d'Assisi. 

So the four Archangels, stately colossal figures, winged 
and armed and sceptred, stand over the arch of the 
choir in the Cathedral of Monrealc, at Palermo.* 

So the four angels stand at the four corners of the 
earth and hold the winds, heads with puffed cheeks and 
dishevelled hair.f (Rev. vii. 1.) 

But I have never seen Uriel represented by name, 
or alone, in any sacred edifice. In the picture of Uriel 
painted by Allston,! he is the " Regent of the Sun," 
a.-, described by Milton ; not a sacred or Scriptural 
personage. On a shrine of carved ivory § I have seen 
the four Archangels as keeping guard, two at each 
end ; the three first are named as usual, St. Michael, 
St. Gabriel, St. Raphael ; the fourth is styled St. Chcr- 
uhin ; and I have seen the same name inscribed over 
the head of the angel who expels Adam and Eve from 
Paradise. Tliere is no authority for such an appel- 
lation ajiplied individually; but' I find, in a famous 
legend of the middle ages, " La Penitence d'Adam," 
that the angel who guards the gates of Paradise is thus 
designated : " Lorsque I'Ange Cherubin vit arriver 

* Greek mosaic, A. D. IIT-I. 

t MS. of tlie Book of Revelation, fourteenth century. Trinity 
College, Dublin. 
+ Coll. of the Duke of Sutherland. 
§ Hotel de Cluny, 399. 


Seth aux portes de Paradis," &c. The foiu* Arch- 
angels, liowever, seldom occur together, except in 
arcliiiectural decoration. On the other hand, devo- 
tional pictures of the three Archangels named in the 
canonical Scrij/iurcs arc of fre(iuent occurrence. They 
are often groujied iogethcr as patron saints or protect- 
ing spirits ; or they stand round the throne of Christ, 
or below the gloritied Virgin and Child, in an attitude 
of adoration. Aci-oiding to the Greek formula, the 
three in combination represent the triple power, mili- 
tary, civil, and religious, of tlie celestial hierarchy : 
St. Michael being haliited as a warrior, Gabriel as a 
prince, and Kaphaei as a priest. In a Greek picture 
the three Archangels sustain in a kind of throne the 
figure of the youthful Christ, here winged, as being 
Himself the supreme Angel {ayyeKos), and with both 
hands blessing the universe. Ihe Archangel Eaphael 
has here the place of dignity as representing the Priest- 
liood ; but in Western art Michael takes precedence of 
the two others, and is usually placed in the centre 
as Prince or Chief: with him, then, as considered in- 
dividually, we begin. 

St. Michael. 

{Lat, Sanctus Michael Angelus. Ital. San Michele, Sammichele. 
Fr. Monseigneur Saint Michel. Sept. 29.) 

" Michael, the Great Prince that standeth for the children of thy 
people." — Dan. xii. 1. 

It is difficult to clothe in adequate language the 
divine attributes with which painting and poetry have 
invested this illustrious archangel. Jews and Chris- 
tians are agreed in giving him the pre-eminence over 
all created spirits. All the might, the majesty, the 
radiance of Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Vir- 
tues, Powers, are centred in him. In him God put 
forth His strength wlien he exalted him chief over 


the celestial host, when anjrels warred with angels in 
heaven ; and in him God showed forth his glory 
wlien he made him conqueror over the jjower of sin, 
and " over the great dragon that deceived tlie world." 

To the origin of the worship paid to this great arch- 
angel I dare not do more than aHude, lest I stray wide 
from my subject, and lose myself, and my readers too, 
in labvrinths of Orientalism. But, in cousiderinir the 
artistic representations, it is interesting to call to mind 
that the glorification of St. Michael may he traced back 
to that primitive Eastern dogma, the ])erpetual antago- 
nism between the Spirit of Good and the Spirit of Evil, 
mixed up with the Chaldaic belief in angels, and their 
influence over the destinies of man. It was subsequent 
to the Captivity that the active Spirit of Good, under 
the name of ^Michael, came to be regarded as the espe- 
cial protector of the Hebrew nation : the A-eneration 
paid to him by the Jews was adopted, or rather re- 
tained, by the Oriental Christians, and, though sup- 
pressed for a time, was revived and spread over the 
"West, whore we find it popular, and almost universal, 
from the eighth centurv. 

The legends which have grown out of a few mystical 
texts of Scripture, amplitied by the fanciful disquisitions 
of the theological writers, place St. Michael before us 
in three great characters : 1. As captain of the heav- 
enly host, and conqueror of the powers of hell. 2. As 
lord of souls, conductor and guardian of the spirits of 
the dead. 3. As patron saint and prince of the Church 

When Lucifer, possessed by the spirit of pride and 
ingratitude, refused to foil down and worship the Sou 
of Man, ^Michael was deputed to punish his i"=''-*lSt»«^'T«~7^7""^ 
and to cast him out from hea^^giU-^-Theiv^tl^'^fi^'^^ * **^^r 
chained the revolted angels j«' middle >aivy^WC thev _,-- "^ 
arc to remam till the day of jwdj,^ Went', /j^iog Jju-^Jw'^ *ra''* 

mean time perpetually tortuj-ed bv hate,^n4-y, and d^^ %\^ < 

^^-^A... \:9,,r'\^ 



spair : for they behold man, Mhom they had disdained, 
exalted as their superior ; above them they see the 
heaven they have forfeited ; and beneath them the re- 
deemed souls continually risinji; from earth, and ascend- 
inj^ to the presence of God, whence they are shut out 

*' Now," says the old Legend,* " if it be asked 
wherefore the books of Moses, in revealing tlic dis- 
obedience and the fall of man, arc silent as to the 
revolt and fall of the angels, the reason is plain ; and, 
in this God acted according to his wisdom. For, let 
us suppose that a certain powerful lord hath two vas- 
sals, both guilty of the crime of treason, and one of 
these is a nobleman of pure and lofty lineage, and the 
other a base-born churl: — what doth this lord ? He 
liangs up the churl in the market-place as a warning 
and example to others ; — but, for the nobleman, fear- 
ing the scandal that may arise among the people, and 
perhaps also some insult to the officers of the law, the 
judge causes him to be tried secretly, and shuts him up 
in a dungeon ; and Avhen judgment is pronounced 
against him, he sends to his prison, and puts him 
privily to death ; and when one askcth after him, the 
answer is only, ' lie is dead ' : — and nothing more. 
Thus did God in respect to the rebel angels of old ; 
and their fate was not revealed until the redemption of 
man was accomplished." 

This passage from the old Italian legend is so 
curiously characteristic of the feudal spirit of Chris- 
tianity in the middle ages, that I have ventured to in- 
sert it verbatim. If religion did, in some degree, 
modify the institutions of chivalry, in a much g-rcater 
degree did the ruling prejudices of a barbarian age 
modify the popular ideas of religion. Here, notwith- 
standing the primary doctrine of Christ, — the equality 
of all men before God, — we have the distinction between 
noble and churl carried into the very councils of 

* V. II perfetto Legendario. 1659. 

AR en AX GELS. 99 

Bat, to return to St. Miclmcl : on wliom, as the 
leader of liis triumphant hosts, God bestowed many 
and great priviley,eo. To him it was givea 

" To bid sound th' archangel tmmpet," 

and exalt the banner of the Cross in the day of judg- 
ment ; and to him likewise was assigned the reeeption 
of the immortal spirits when released by death. It was 
his task to weigh them in a bahmcc (Dan. v. 27 ; Ps. 
Ixii. 9) : tliose wliosc good works exceeded tlieir de- 
merits, he presented before the throne of God ; but 
tliose wlio were found wanting he gave up to be tor- 
tured in ])urgatory, until their souls, from being " as 
crimson, slionlil become as wliitc as snow." Therefore, 
in the hour of death, he is to be invoked by tlie faithful, 
saying, " Michael, viilihE cocleatis sif/nifer, in adjuturium 
nostrum veni, princepa et. propugnator I " 

Lastly, when it i)leased the Almighty to select from 
among the nations of the earth one peo])le to become 
peculiarly his own, He ap])ointed 8t. Michael to be 
president and leader over that chosen people.* " At 
that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince 
which standeth for the children of thy i)eople " (Dan. 
X. 13, xii. 1) : and when the power of the Synagogue 
was snp])oscd to cease, and to be replaced by the power 
of the Church, so that the Christians became the people 
of God, then Michael, who had been the great prince 
of the Hebrew people, became the prince and leader of 
the Church militant in Christendom, and tlie guardian 
of redeemed souls, against his old adversary the Prince 
of Hell. (Rev. xii. 6, 7.) 

* The Gnostics taught that the universe was created bj^ the 
Seven Great Angels, who ranked next to the Eons, or direct 
emanatious from God : " And when a distribution was afterwards 
made of things, the chief of the creating angels had the People of 
the Jews particularly to his share ; a doctrine which in the main 
was received by many ancients." (See Lardner's History of the 
Early Heresies.) I have alluded to the angel pictured as the agent 
in creation, but the Seven cr ating Angels T hiwe not met with in 
art. This was one of the Guostic fancies condemned by the earlj 



The worship paid to St. Micliacl, and which oriiri- 
natt'd in the far East, is supposed to have been adopted 
by the Oriental Christians in conscquenec of a famous 
apparition of tlie Archangel at Colossae, in Pliry^ia, 
wliich caused him to be lield in especial l:onor by th.e 
people of that city, and perliaps occasioned tlie par- 
ticuhu- wai'ning of St. Paul addressed to the Colossians. 
But although the Avorsliip of angels was considered 
among the heresies of the early Church, we find Con- 
stantinc no scjoner master of the empire, and a bap- 
tized Christian, than he dedicates a church to the 
Archangel Michael (liy his Greek name Michaelion), 
and this church, one of the most magnificent in Con- 
stantinople, became renowned for its miracles, and the 
parent and model of hundreds more throughout the 

In the West, the honoi's paid to St. Michael are of 
later date : that a church dedicated to him must liave 
existed in Rome long before the year 500 seems clear, 
because at that time it is mentioned as having fallen 
into ruin. But the West had its angelic apparitions 
as well as the East, and St. Michael owes his wide- 
spread popularity in the middle ages to three famous 
visions which are thus recorded. 

In the fifth century, in the city of Siponte, in Apu- 
lia (now Manfredouia), dwelt a man named Galgano 
or Garganus, very rich in cattle, sheep, and beasts ; 
and as they pastured on the sides of the mountain, it 
happened that a bull strayed and came not home; then 
the rich man took a multitude of seiwants and sought 
the bull, and found him at the entrance of a cave on 
the very summit of the mountain, and, being wrath 
with tlie bull, the master ordered him to be slain ; but 
when the arrow was sent from the bow it returned to 
the bosom of him wlio sent it, and he fell dead on 
the ground : then the master and his servants were 
troub'ed, and they sent to inquire of the bishop Avhat 
should I)c done. The bishop, having fasted and prayed 
three days, beheld in a vision the glorious Archangel 


Michael, who descended on the monntain, and told 
him that the servant had been slain l>ecause he had 
violated a spot peculiarly sacred to him, and he com- 
manded that a chiuvii should be erected and sanctified 
there to his honor. And when they entered the cavern 
they found tliere tiiree altars already erected, one of 
them covered with a rich emin-oidered altar-clotli of 
crimson and jrold, and a stream of limpid water 
springing from the rock, which healed all diseases. 
So the church was built, and the fame of the vision 
of Monte Galgano, tliough for some time confined to 
the south of Italy, spread throu^^hout Europe, and 
many pilgrimages were made to the spot on which the 
angelic footsteps had alighted. 

The second vision is much more imposing. When 
Rome wa^s nearly depopulated by a pestilence in the 
sixth century, St. Gregory, afrerwards Pope, advised 
that a i)roLession should be made through the streets 
of the city, singing the service since called the Great 
Litanies. He placed himself at the head of the faith- 
ful, and during tlirec days they perambulated the city; 
and on the third day, when they had arrived opposite 
to the mole of Hadrian, Gregory beheld the Archangel 
Michael alight on the summit of that monument, and 
sheathe his sword bedropped witli blood. Then Greg- 
ory knew that the plague was stayed, and a church 
was there dedicated to the honor of the Archangel : 
and the Tom') of Hadrian has since been called the 
Castle of Sant' Angelo to this day. 

Tills, of all the recorded apparitions of St. Michael, 
is the only one which can be called poetical : it is 
evidently l)orrowed from the vision of the destroying 
angel in Scripture. As early as the ninth century, a 
church or chapel dedicated to St. Michael was erected 
on the summit of the huge monument, which at that 
time must have preserved much of its antique magnifi- 
cence. The chur-h was entitled Ecchsia Sancti Avrjeli 
uaqne ad Cfdos. The l)ronze statue, which in memory 
of this miracle now surmounts the Castle, of St. An- 



g:elo, was ])lacc(l tlicrc in recent times by Benedict 
XIV., and is the work of a Flemish seulpior, Ycr- 
schalielt. I suppose no one ever looked at this statne 
critically, — at least, for myself, I never could : nor 
can I rememl)cr now, whether, as a work of art, it is 
above or below criticism ; perhaps both. With its a^tsI 
winus, poised in air, as seen against the deep blue skie.s 
of l\ome, or lighted up by the golden sunset, to me it 
was ever like what it was intended to represent, — like 
a vision. 

A third apparition was that accorded to Aubcrt, 
Bishop of Avranches (a. d. 706). This holy man 
seems to have been desirous to attract to his own 
diocese a portion of that sanctity (and perhaps other 
advantages) which Monte Galgano derived from the 
worsliip of St. Michael. In the Gulf of Avranches, 
in Normandy, stands a loftv isolated rock, inaccessible 
from the land at high water, and for ages ]jast cele- 
brated as one of the strongest fortresses and stale 
prisons in France. In the reign of Childel)ert II., 
St. Aulievt, Bishop of Avranches, had a vision, in 
which the Archangel Michael commanded him to re- 
pair to this rock, then the terror of mariners, and erect 
a churcli lo his honor on the highest point, where a 
bull would be found concealed, and it was to cover as 
much space as the 1)ull had trampled with his hoofs : 
lie also discovered to the bislioj) a wellspring of pure 
water, which had before been unknown. As the bisb.op 
treated this command as a dream, the Archangel ap- 
peared to him a second and a third time ; and at 
length, to impress it on his Avaking memory, he touched 
his head Avith his thumb, and made a mark or hole in 
his skull, which he carried to the gi-ave. This time 
the bishop obeyed, and a small church was built on 
the s})ot indicated ; aitcrwards rei)laced by the mag- 
nificent Al)bcy Church, Aviiicli Avas begun by Ivicliavd, 
Duke of Normandy, in 9GG, and finished by AVilliam 
the Conqueror. The poverty of invention shoAvn in 
this legencj, Avhich is little more than a rcjictition of 


that of Monte Galjrano, is very disappointiiicr to the 
faiK-v, coiisiderino: the celebrity of Mont-Saiiit-Michel 
ai a phice of pil«:riina.ii:e, and as one of the pic- 
turesi^ue objects in Euroj)can scenery, witli its massive 
towers, which have braved the tempests of a thousand 
years, rising from the summit of the ])cak, and the sea 
weltering- round its base. It failed not, liowever, in 
the effect anticipated. The worship of St. ?.Iichael 
became popular in France from the ninth century; the 
Archangel was selected as patron saint of France, and 
of the military order instituted in his honor by Louis 
XI. in 1469. The Avorship paid to St. Michael as 
])atron saint of Xormandy naturally extended itself to 
England after the Norman conipiest, and churches 
dedicated to this archangel a!)ound in all the towns 
and cities along the southern and eastern shores of 
our island ; we also liave a Mount St. Michael on 
the coast of Cornwall, in situation and in name re- 
sembling that on the coast of France. At this day 
there are few cities in Cliristendom which do not 
contain a cliurch or churches dedicated to St. Michael, 
some of them of great antiquity. 

I must not omit that St. ^Michael is considered as 
the angel of good counsel : that " Le ATai office de 
Monseigneur Saint Michel est de faire grandes revela- 
tions aux homnies en bas, en leur donnant moult saints 
conseils," and in particnlar, " sur le bon nourissement 
que le pere et la mere donnent a leurs cnfans."* It 
is to be regretted that " Monseigneur Saint ^Michel " 
should be found rather remiss in this part of his an- 
gelic functions. 

"We shall now see how far these various traditions 
and popular notions concerning St. Michael have been 
"earned out in Art. 

In all representations of St. ^lichael, the leading 
idea, well or ill expressed, is the same. He is young 
and beautiful, but " severe in youthful beauty," as one 

* Le Livre des Angeles de Dieu, MS. Paris Bibl. Nat. 


v.ho carries on a perpetual contest with the powers of 
e\ il. In the earlier works of art he is robed in white, 
with ample many-colored winjrs, and bears merely the 
s:'cptre or tlic lance surmounted by a cross, as one who 
conquered by spiritual might alone. But in the later 
representations, those colored by the spirit of chivalry, 
he is the angelic Paladin, armed in a dazzling coat of 
mail, with sword and spear and shield. He has a 
lofty open ])ro\v, long fair hair floating on liis shoul- 
ders, sometimes bound by a jewelled tiara ; sometimes, 
but not often, shaded by a helmet. From his shoul- 
ders spring two resplendent wings. Thus w'e see him 
standing by the throne of the Madonna, or worshi])ping 
at the feet of the Divine Infant ; an exquisite allegory 
of spiritual and intellectual power protecting purity 
and adoring innocence. 

There is a most beautiful little figure by Angclico, 
of St. Michael standing in his character of archangel 
and patron of the Church Militant, " as the winged 
saint"; no demon, no attribute except the lance and 
shield. The attitude is tranquilly elegant, and the 
{M-mor is of a dark crimson and gold, the wings are 
of rainbow tints, vivid and delicate ; a flame of lam- 
bent fire rests on the brow. 

But the single devotional figures of St. Michael 
usually represent liim as combining the two great 
characters of cajjtain of the heavenly host and con- 
(pieror of the powers of hell. He stands armed, set- 
ting his foot on Lucifer, either in the half-human or 
the dragon form, and is about to transfix him with liis 
lance, or to chain liim down in the infernal abyss. 
Such, however varied in the attitude, expression, and 
accessories, is the most frequent and popular represen- 
tation of St. ^lichael, when placed before us, as the 
universally received emblem of the final victory of 
good over evil. 

In those churches of Christendom which have not 
been defaced by a blind destructive zeal, this image 
meets us at every turn : it salutes us in the porch as 

ARCflAXaKLS. 105 

wc enter, or it shines upon us in goi-jreous colors from 
ilie window, or it is wreathed into tlie capitals of col- 
uuins, or it stands in its holy heroic beauty over the 
altar. It is so common and so in harmony with our 
inmost bcin<^, that we rather*foel its presence than ob- 
serve it. It is the visible, palpable reflection of that 
jjreat truth stamped into our very souls, and shadowed 
forth in every form of ancient l)elief, — the final tri- 
umph of the spiritnal over the animul and earthly part 
of our nature. Tiiis is the secret of its ])erpctual repe- 
tition, and this the secret of the untired complacency 
with which w^c regard it ; for even in the most ineffi- 
cient attempts at expression, we have always the lead- 
ing />w///\listinct and true, the winged virtue is always 
victorious above, and t!ic bestial vice is always pros- 
trate below : and if to this primal moral significance be 
added all the charm of poetry, grace, animated move- 
ment, which human genius has lavished on this ever- 
blessed, ever-welcome sym!)ol, then, as we look up at 
it, we are " not only touched, but wakened and in- 
spired," and the whole delighted imagination glows 
Avith faith and hope, and gratefnl, triumphant sympa- 
thy, — so at least I have felt, and I must believe that 
otliers have felt it too. 

In the earliest representations of this subject, we see 
the simplest form of the allegory, literally rendering 
the words of Scripture, " The dragon shalt thou tram- 
ple under foot." (Ps. xci. 13.) Here there is no risk 
of a divided interest or a misdirected sympathy. The 
demon, grovelling under the feet of the victorious 
s,)irit, is not the star-bright apostate who drew after 
him the third part of heaven ; it is the bestial malig- 
nant reptile : — not the emblem of resistance, but the 
emblem of sin ; not of the sin that aspires, which, in 
fa-t, is a contradiction in terms ; — no sin aspires ; — 
bui; of t'le sin wliich degrades and brutiiies, as all sin 
docs. I:i the later representations, Avhere the demon 
takes the half-human shape, however hideous and de- 
formed, the allegory may so be brought nearer to us, 


and rendered more terrible even by a horrid sympathy 
with that human face, grinaint; in despite and agony ; 
but mucJi of the beauty of the Scriptural metaphor is 

The representations of St. Michael and the dragon 
are so multifarious that I can only select a few among 
them as examples of the ditferent styles of treatment. 

The symbol, as such, is supposed to have originated 
with the Gnostics and Arians, and the earliest exam- 
ples are to be found in the ancient churches on the 
western coast of Italy, and the old Lombard churches. 
I have never seen it in the old Mosaics of the sixth 
century, but in the contemjjorary sculpture frequently. 
It would- be difficult to point to the most aiu-ient ex- 
ample, such is the confusion of dates as regards dedi- 
cations, restorations, alterations ; but I remember a 
carving in wliite marble on the porch of the Cathedral 
of Cortona (about tlie seventh century), which ma}^ be 
regarded as an example of this primitive style of treat- 

Another instance will be remembered by the traveller 
in Italy, the strange antique bas-relief on the facade 
of that extraordinary old church the San Michele at 
Tavia ; not the figure in the porch, which is modern, 
but that which is above. In tlie Mcnologium Grec um 
is a St. Michael standing with a long sceptre, a majestic 
colossal figure, while kneeling angels adore him, and 
the demons crouch under his feet.f 

* Dr. Arnold has some characteristic remarks on the half- 
human effigies of Satan •, he olijects to the Miltonic representation : 
" I3y giving a human likeness, and reprfseuting him as a bad 
man, you necessarily get some image of what is good, as well as 

Df what is bad, for no man is entirely evil The hoofs, the 

horns, the tail, were all useful in this way, as giving you an image 
of something altogether disgusting 5 and so Mephistophiles, and 
the utterly contemptible and hateful character of the Little Master 
in Siutram, are far more true than the Paradise Lost.'" — Life, 
vol. ii. 

\ Vatican MSS. No. 1613, A. D. 989. 

ARcn.ixa/JLs. 107 

By Mnrtin S.-lioni : St. Michael, attired in a long 
luoac roi)o ami Huatiii!^ inaiitie, tramples on tiie demon ; 
lie has thrown ilowii the shield, an;l with his lance in 
i)or!i hands, but without effort, and even Aviih a calm, 
anuxdic dignity, prepares to transfix his adversary. 
Tlic figure is singularly elegant. The demon has not 
here the usual form of a dragon, but is a horrible non- 
descript reptile, with multitudinous flexile claws, like 
those of a crab, stretched out to seize and entangle the 
unwary; — for an emblematical figure, very significant. 
In an old fresco by Guariente di l'adova*the angel 
is drai)ed as in ^lartin ISchoeu's figure, but the attitude 
is far less elegant. 

Sometimes the dragon has a small head at the end 
of his tail, instead of the forked sting. I recollect an 
instance of St. Michael transfixing the large head, while 
a smaller angel, also armed, transfixes the other hcad.t 
Tliis is an attempt to render literally the description in 
the Apocalypse : " For their power is in their mouth 
and in their tails : for their tails were like unto serpents, 
and had heads, and with them they do hurt." (Rev. ix. 
19.) In a most elegant figure of St. Michael, from the 
choir of the San Giovanni, at Malta, I found the demon 
thus characterized, with a tail ending iu the serpent 

In an old Siena picture J St. Michael is seated on a 
throne : in one hand a sword, iu the other the orb of 
sovereignty ; under his feet lies the dragon mangled 
and bleeding: a bad picture, but curious for the sin- 
gular treatment. 

In the sixteenth century these figures of St. Michael 
become less ideal and angelic, and more and more 
chivalrous and picturesque. In a beautiful altar-piece 
by Andrea del Sarto, now in the Florence Academy, 
there is a fine martial figure of the Archangel, which, 
but for the winus, mio-ht be mistaken for a St. Geoi*ge : 

* A. D. 1365. Eremitani. Padua. 

t (Jreek Apocalypse MS. Paris Bibl. Nat. 

J Siena Acad. 


and in the predella underneatli, on a small scale, he 
is conqueror of the demon. The peculiarity here is, 
that the demon, though vanquished, makes a vain 
struggle, and has seized hold of the helt of the angel, 
who, with uplifted sword, and an action of infinite 
grace and dignity, looks superior down, as one assured 
of victory, 

Raphael has given us three figures of St. Michael, 
all different, and one of them taking rank with his 

The first is an early production, painted when he 
was a youth of nineteen or twenty, and now in the 
Louvre. St. Michael, armed with a shield on which is 
a red cross, his sword raised to strike, stands with one 
foot on a monster ; other horrihle httle monsters, like 
figures in a dream, are around him : in the hackground 
are seen the hypocrites and thieves as described hy 
Dante ; the first, in melancholy procession, weighed 
down with leaden cowls ; the others, tormented hy 
snakes : and, in the distance, the flaming, dolorous 
city. St. Michael is here the van(|uishcr of tb.e Vices. 
It is a curious and fantastic, rather than poetical, little 
picture. ^ 

The second picture, also in the Louvre, was painted 
hy Raphael, in the maturity of his talent, for Francis 
L : the king had left to him the choice of the suhject, 
and he selected St. Michael, the military patron of 
France, and of that knightly Order of which the king 
was grand master. 

St. Michael — not standing, hut hovering on his 
poised wings, and grasping his lance in both hands — 
sets one foot lightly on the shoulder of the demon, who, 
prostrate, Avrithes up, as it were, and tries to lift his 
head and turn it on his conqueror with one last gaze 
of malignant rage and despair. The archangel looks 
down upon him with a brow calm and serious ; in his 
beautiful face is neither vengeance nor disdain, — in his 
attitude, no effort; his form, a model of youthful grace 
and majesty, is clothed in a brilliant panoply of gold 


and silver; an azure scarf floats on his shoulders; his 
wide-spread \vin<is are of purple, blue, and j^old ; his 
lii;lit hair is raised, and floats outward on eaeli side of 
his head, as if from the swiftness of liis downward 
motion. The earth emits flames, and seems oi)enin;^ 
to swallow up the adversary. The form of the demon 
is human, but vulj^ar in its proportions, and of a 
swarthy red, as if flre-scathed ; he has the horns and 
the serpent-tail ; l)Ut, from the attitude into which he 
is thrown, the monstrous form is so fore-shortened that 
it does not disjjjust, and the majestic flgure of the arch- 
ani^el Alls up nearly the whole spate — Alls the eye — 
Alls the soul — with its victorious beauty. 

That Milton had seen this i)icture, and that wlien 
his si;.:;ht was quenched the " win;i;ed saint" revisited 
him in his darkness, who can doubt ? — 

" Over his lucid arms 
A military vest of purple flowed 
Livelier than MeHbceaii, or the grain 
Of Sarra worn by kings and heroes old 
In time of truce. 

By his side, 
As in a glittering zodiac, hung the sword, 
Satan's dire dread, and in his hand the spear." 

A third St. Michael, designed by Raphael, exists 
only as an engraving.* The angel here wears a hel- 
met, and is classically draped ; he stands in an attitude 
of repose, his foot on the neck, of the demon ; one hand 
rests on the pummel of his sword, the other holds the 

It seems agreed that, as a work of art, there is only 
the St. Michael of Guido (in the Capuccini at Home) 
which can be compared with that of Raphael ; the 
moment chosen is the same ; the treatment nearly the 
same ; the sentiment quite difterent. 

Here the angel, standing, yet scarcely touching the 
ground, poised on his outspread wings, sets his left foot 
on the head of his adversary ; in one hand he brandishes 

* By Marco di Ravenna Bartsch, xiv. 106. 


a sword, in the other he liolcls tlie eud of a cliain, with 
which he is about to bind down the demon in the hot- pit. The attitude has been criticised; and 
justly ; the grace is somewhat mannered, verpng on 
the theatrical ; but Forsyth is too severe when he talks 
of the "air of a dancing-master" : one thing, however, 
is certain, we do not think about attitude wlien we look 
at Kapliael's St. Michael ; in Guido's, it is the first 
thing that strikes us ; but when we look further, the 
head redeems all ; it is singularly beautiful, and in the 
blending of the masculine and feminine graces, in the 
serene purity of the brow, and the flow of the golden 
hair, tlierc is something divine : a slight, A^ery slight, 
expression of scorn is in the air of the head. The 
fiend is the Avorst part of the picture ; it is not a fiend, 
but a degraded prosaic human ruffian ; we laugh Avith 
incredulous contempt at the idea of an angel called 
down from heaven to overcome such a wretch. In 
Iva])hael the fiend is human, but the head has the god- 
like ugliness and malignity of a satvr : Guido's fiend 
is only stupid and l)ase. It appears to me that there is 
just the same difference — the same hiud of difference — 
between the angel of Eaphael and the angel of Guido 
as between the description in Tasso and the description 
in Milton ; let any one compare them. In Tasso we 
are struck by the pictures(|ue elegance of the description 
as a piece of art, the melody of the verse, the admirable 
choice of the expressions, as in Guido by the finished, 
but somewhat artificial and studied grace. In Ra- 
phael and Milton we see only the vision of a " shape 

One of the most beautiful figures of St. Michael I 
ever saw occurs in a coronation of the Virgin by 
Moretto, and is touched by his peculiar sentiment of 
serious tenderness.* 

In devotional pictures such figures of St. Michael 
are sometimes grouped poetically Avith other personages, 
as in a most beautiful picture by Innocenza da Iraola,^ 

* Brescia, S. Maria delle GrazLe. t Milan, Brera. 


w'lcrc t]ic arrhaii'iel ti'iimplcs on the demon ; St Paul 
stamlinjj; o.i one siiUi and Sr. Benedict on tlic otlier, 
Itotli of whom had s.viveu with the fiend and had over- 
cone hitn : the Madonna and Child are seen in a glory 

xVnd again in a picture by Mabuse,* where St. 
J»Iichael, as patron, sets his foot on the black, grinning 
fijnd, and looks down on a kneeling votary, while the 
votary, with his head turned away, api)ears to be wor- 
s!iipi)ing, not the protecting angel, but the Madonna, 
to whom St. Michael presents him. Such votive pic- 
tures are not uncommon, and have a peculiar grace 
and significance. Here the archangel bears the vic- 
torious banner of the crf)ss ; — he has conquered. In 
some instances he holds in liis hand the head of the 
Dragon, and in nil. instances it is, or ought to be, the 
head of the Dragon which is transfixed : " Thou shalt 
bruise his head." 

Those representations in which St. Michael is not 
conqueror, but combatant, in which the moment is one 
of transition, arc less frequent ; it is then enaction, not 
an endtlem, and the composition is historical rather than 
symbolical. It is the strife with Lucifer ; " when 
Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and 
the dragon fought and his angels, and the great dragon 
was cast out." (Rev. xii. 7.) In churches and chapels 
dedicated to St. Michael, or to "the Holy Angels," this 
appropriate subject often occurs ; as in a famous fresco 
by Spinello d'Arezzo, at Arezzo.t In the middle of 
the composition, Michael, armed with sword and sliield, 
is seen combating the dragon with seven heads, as de- 
scribed in the Apocalypse. Above and ai'ound are 
many angels also armed. At the top of the picture is 
seen an empty throne, the throne which Lucifer had. 
"^ set in the north " ; below is seen Lucifer, falling with 
his angels over the parapet of heaven. (Isaiah xiv. 1.3.) 

* Boisseree Gallery. 

t A. D. 1400. Engraved in Lusinio's " Early Florentine Mas- 


The painter tasked his skill to render the transformation 
of tlie spirits of light into spirits of darkness as fearful 
and as hideous as possible ; and, being a man of a 
nervous temperament, the continual dwelling on these 
hoiTors began at length to trouble his brain. He 
fancied that Lucifer appeared to liim in a dream, de- 
manding by what autliority he had portrayed him 
under an aspect so reA'oltiug ? — the painter awoke in 
hoiTor, -was seized with delirious fever, and so died. 

In his combat with the dragon, Michael is sometimes 
represented alone, and sometimes as assisted by the two 
other archangels, Gabriel and Raphael : as in the fresco 
by Signorelli, at Orvieto, where one of the angels, 
Avhom we may suppose to be Raphael, looks down on 
the falling demons Avith an air of melancholy, almost 
of pity. 

In a picture by Marco Oggione (Milan, Brera) Mi- 
chael has precipitated the demon into the gulf, and 
hovers above, wliile Raphael and Gabriel stand below 
on each side, looking on ; all are clothed in voluminous 
loose white di-aperies, more like priests than warriors ; 
but it is a fine picture. 

In the large Rubens-room at ]\Iunich there ai^e two 
pictures of Michael subduing the revolted angels. The 
large one, in Avhich Michael is the principal figure, is 
not agreeable. Rubens could not lift himself sufficient- 
ly above the earth to conceive and embody the spiritual 
and heroic and beautiful in one divine form ; his St. 
Michael is vulgar. The smaller composition, -where 
the fallen, or rather falling, angels fill the whole space, 
is a most wonderful effort of artistic invention. At the 
summit of the picture stands St. Michael, the shield in 
one hand, in the other the forked lightnings of Divine 
wrath ; and from above the rebel host tumble headlong 
"in hideous ruin and combustion hurled," and with 
such affi-iglit and amazement in every face, such a 
downward movement in every limb, that we recoil in 
dizzy horror while we look upon it. It is curious that 
Rubens should have introduced female reprobate spir- 


its; if lie intended his picture as an allegory, merely 
the conquest of the spiritual over the sensual, he is ex- 
cusable ; but if he meant to figure the vision in the 
Apocalypse, it is a deviation from the proper Scriptural 
treatment, which is inexcusable. This picture remains, 
however, as a whole, a perfect miracle of art : the fault 
is, that we feel inclined to applaud as we do at some 
astonishing tour de force; such at least was my own 
feeling, and this is not the feeling appropriate to the 
subject. Though this famous picture is entitled tlis 
Fall of the Angels, I have some doubts as to whetlier 
this was the intention of the painter : whether he did 
not mean to express the fall of sinners, flung by the 
Angel of judgment into the abyss of wrath and per- 
dition ? 

In those devotional pictures which exhibit St.' Mi- 
chael as Lord of souls, he is winged and unarmed, and 
holds the balance. In each scale sits a little naked 
figure, representing a human soul ; one of these is 
usually represented with hands joined as in thankful- 
ness, — he is the beato, the elected; the other is in an 
attitude of horror, — he is the rejected, the reprobate ; 
and often, but not necessarily, tlie idea is completed by 
the introduction of a demon, who is grasping at the 
descending scale, either with his talons, or with the 
long two-pronged hook, such as is given to Pluto in 
the antique sculpture. 

Sometimes St. Michael is thus represented singly; 
sometimes very beautifully in Madonna pictures, as in 
a picture by Leonai'do da Vinci (a. d. 1498), where St. 
Michael, a gracefuf angelic figure, with liglit flowing 
hair, kneels before the Madonna, and prcsents t!ie bal- 
ance to the Infant, who seems to welcome the pious 
little soul who sits in the uppermost scale. 

I have seen this idea varied. St. ]\Iichael stands 
majestic with the balance ])oiscd in his Jiauds : instead 
of a human figure in either scale, there are weights ; on 
onj side is seen a company of five or .--ix little naked 
ahivering souls, as if waiting for tlicir doom ; on the 


other several demons, one of -whom with liis hook is 
pullinj:^ down the ascending; scale.* With or wiihout 
the halauee, St. Michael figures as Lord of souls when 
introduced into pictures of the Assumption or the 
Glorification of the Virgin. To understand the whole 
beauty and propriety of such reijrescntations, we must 
remember that, according to one of the legends of the 
death of the Vii-gin, Iter spirit was consigned to the 
care of St. Michael until it was permitted to reanimate 
the spotless form, and with it ascend to heaven. 

In one or two instances only, I have seen St. Michael 
without wings. In general, an armed figure unwinged 
and standing on a dragon, we may presume to be a St. 
George ; but where the balance is introduced, it leaves 
no doubt of the personality, — it is a St. Michael. Oc- 
<"asionally the two characters — the protecting Angel 
of light and the Angel of judgment — are united, and 
we see St. Michael, with tlie dragon under his feet and 
the balance in liis hand. This was a favorite and ap- 
propriate subject on toml)S and chajjels dedicated to the 
dead ; such is the Ix'autiful bas-relief on the tomb of 
Henry VII. in Westminster Abbey. 

In some representations of the last judgment, St. 
Michael, instead of the banner and cross, bears the 
scales ; as in the very curious bas-reliof on tlie facade 
of the church of St. Troplnme at Aries. St. Micliael 
here has a balance so large that it is almost as high as 
himself; it is not a mere emljlem, but a fact ; a soul 
sits in each scale, and a third is rising up ; the angel 
holds out one hand to assist him. In another part of 
the same bas-relief St. Michael is seen carrying a hu- 
man soul (represented as a little naked figure) and 
bringing it to St. Peter and St. Paul. In a celebrated 
Last Judgment, attributed by some authors to John 
Van Eyck, by others to Justus of Ghent, St. Michael 
IS grandly introduced. High up, in the centre, sits the 
Saviour, with the severe expression of the judge. Above 
him hover four angels with the instruments of the Pas- 

* Psalter of St. Louis, Bib. de I'Arsenal, Paris. 

A R en AN GELS. 115 

sion, and bolosv him three others sounding trumpctS; 
— I suppose tUc seven pre-eminent ant^els: the Viruiu 
and St. John the Baptist on each side, and then tlie 
Apostles rantivd in tlic usual manner. " In the lower 
half of the picture stands St. Michael, clad in aolden 
armor, so bright as to retiect in tiie most complete man- 
ner all the surrounding objects. His figure is sleuder 
and elegant, but colossal as compai-cd to the rest. He 
seems to be bending earnestly forward, a splendid pur- 
ple mantle falls from his slioulders to the ground, and 
his large wings arc composed of glittering peacock's 
feathers. He holds tlie balance ; the scale with the 
good rests on earth, but that with the souls which are 
found wanting mounts into air. A demon stands ready 
to receive them, and towards this scale St. Michael 
])oints with the end of a black staff which ho holds in 
his right hand." This ])icture, which is a chcf-d'auvre 
of the early German scliool, is now in the church of 
St. Mary at Dantzig. 

The historical subjects in which St. Michael is intro- 
duced exhibit him as ])rince of the Hel)rew nation, and 
belong properly to the Old Testament.* " After tlie 
confusion of tongues, and the scattering of the people, 
which occurred on the building of the Tower of Babel, 
every separate nation had an angel to direct it. To 
Michael was given in charge the people of the Lord. 
The Hebrews being carried away captive into the land 
of Assyria, Daniel prayed that they might be permit- 
ted to i"eturn when the seventy years of captivity were 
over ; but the Angel of Persia opposed himself on this 
occasion to the angels Michael and Gabi-iel. He wished 
to retain the Jews in captivity, because he was glad to 
have, within tlie l)Ounds of his jurisdiction, a people 
who served tlie true God, and because he hoped that in 
time the captive Jews would convert to the truth the 
Assyrians and Persians committed to his care.^' This 

- St. Ephrem, Bib. Orient., torn. i. p. 78. De Beausobre, vol 
ii. p. 17. 


riirioiis passage from one of the eai'ly Christian fathers, 
rcpreBcntiiigthe good angels as opposed to each other, 
and one of them as disputing the commands of God, is 
an instance of the confused ideas on the subject of an- 
gels which prevailed in the ancient Chui'ch, and Avhidi 
prevail, I imagine, in the minds of many even at this 

In the story of Hagar in the wilderness, it is ]Michael 
who descends to her aid. In the sacrifice of Isaac, it 
is ]\Iichael who stays the arm of It is ]Mi- 
chael who brings the plagues on Egypt, and he it is 
who leads the Israelites through the wilderness. It A\as 
the belief of the Jews, and of some of the early Christian 
flithers, that through his angel (not in person) God 
spoke to ^Nloses from the burning bush and delivered to 
him the law on ISIount Sinai ; and that the angel so 
delegated was ISIichael. 

It is Michael who combats with Lucifer for the body 
of Moses. (Jude v. 9.) According to one interi)re- 
tation of this curious passage of Scripture, the demon 
wished to enter and to possess the form of Moses, in 
order to deceive the Jews by personating their leader ; 
but others say, that ^lichael contended for the body, 
that he might bury it in an unknown place, lest the 
Jews should fall into the sin of paying divine honors to 
their legislator. This is a fine picturesque subject : the 
rocky desert, the body of Moses dead on the earth, the 
contest of tbe good and evil angel confronting each 
other, — these arc grand materials ! It must have 
been rarely treated, for I remember but one instance, — 
the fresco by L. SignorcUi, in the Sistine Chapel in the 

It is Michael who intercepts Balaam * when on his 
way to curse the people of Israel, and puts blessings 
into his mouth instead of curses : a subject often treat- 
ed, but as a fiict i-ather than a vision. 

It is Michael who stands before Joshua in the plaiir 
by Jericho: "And Joshua said unto him, Art thou 

* Didron, Manuel Grec, p 101. 


for us, ox- for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but 
as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. 
And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did wor- 
ship, and said unto him. What saith my lord unto his 
servant ? And the captain of the Lord's host said unto 
Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot ; for the place 
whereon thou standest is holy." (Joshua v. 13-15.) 
This suhject is very uncommon. Li the Greek MS. 
already alluded to, I met with a magniticent example^ 
— mafiniticcnt in point of sentiment, though half-ruined 
and effaced ; the God-like bearing of the armed angel, 
looking down on the prostrate Joshua, is here as fine as 

It is Michael who appears to Gideon.* It is Michael 
who chastises David. t It is Michael who exterminates 
the army of Sennacherib ; a subject magnificently 
painted i>y Kubens. (Some suppose that on this occa- 
sion God made use of the ministry of an evil angel. J) 

It is Michael who descends to deliver the Three 
Children from the burning tiery furnace. The Three 
Children in the furnace is a subject which appears very 
early in the catacombs and on the sarcophagi as a sym- 
bol of the redemption; — so early, that it is described 
by Tertullian;§ but in almost all the examples given 
there are three figures only : where there is a fourth, it 
is, of course, the protecting angel, but he is without 
wings. II 

Michael seizes the prophet Hal)akkuk by the hair of 
the head, and carries him to Babylon to the den of 
lions, that he may feed Daniel.1[ This apocryphal 

* Judges vi. 11. t 2 Sam. xxiv. 16. 

\ Calmet. § De Oratione, cap. xii. 

II Bottari, Tab. xxii. On the early Christian sarcopliagi, as I 
have already observed, there are no winged angels. In the oft- 
repeated subject of tha " Three Children in the burning fiery 
furnace," the fourth figure, when introducecVjraay represent a son 
•f God, — i. e. an angel; or the Son of God, i. e. Christ, as ithus 
been interpreted in both senses. 

V Bel and the Dragon, 26. 


subject occurs on several sarcophagi.* I have seen it 
also in illuminated MSS., but cannot at this moment 
refer to it. It occurs in a series of late Flemish prints 
after Heraskirk, — of which there are good impressions 
in the British Museum. 

The Arcliangel Michael is not named in the Gos- 
pels ; but in the legends of the Madonna, as we shall 
see hereafter, he plays a very important part, being 
deputed by Christ to announce to his mother her ap- 
proaching end, and to receive her soul. For the pres- 
ent I will only remark, that when, in accordance with 
this very ancient legend, an angel is represented kneel- 
ing before the Madonna, and holding in his hand a 
palm surmounted by stars, or a lighted taper, this angel 
is not Gabriel, announcing the conception of Christ, 
as is usually supposed, but Michael, as the angel of 
death. t 

The legend of Monte Galgano I saw in a large 
fresco, in the Santa Croce at Florence, by a painter of 
the Giotto school ; but in so bad a state, that I could 
only make out a bull on the top of a mountain, and a 
man shooting witli a bow and arrow. On tlie opposite 
wall is the combat of Michael with tlie dragon, — very 
spirited, and in much better preservation. To distin- 
guish the apparition of St. Michael on jNIonte Galgano 
from the apparition on jNIont St. Michel, in both of 
which a bull and a bishop are principal figures, it is 
necessary to observe, that, in the last-named subject, 
the sea is always inti-oduced at the base of the picture, 
and that the former is most common in Italian, and 
the latter in French works of art. In the French 
stained glass of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, 
St. Michael is a very popular subject, either with the 
dragon, or the scales, or both. 

Lately, in removing the whitewash from the east 
wall of the nave of Preston Church, near Brighton, 

* Bottari, xv. 49, 84. f See l>gends of the Madonna. 


was discovered the outline of a group of figures, reprc- 
seuiing St. Mieliael, fully draped, and with large wings, 
bearing the balance; in each scale a human soul. The 
scale containing the beato is assisted by a figure fully 
draped, but so ruined that it is not possible to say 
whether it represents the Virgin or the gunrdian saint 
of the person who caused the fresco to be painted. I 
am told that in the old churches of Cornwall, and of 
the towns on the south coast, which had frequent inter- 
course with France, effigies of .St. Michael occur fre- 
quently, both in painting and scul})ture. On the old 
Englisli coin, thence called an aiKjd, we have the figure 
of St. Michael, who was one of the patron saints of 
our Norman kings. 

I must now trust to the reader to contemplate the 
figures of St. Michael, so fretjuent and so varied in 
Art, with reference to these suggestions; and leaving 
for the present this radiant Spirit, this bright similitude 
of a primal and universal faith, we turn to his angelic 

St. Gabriel. 

Lat. Sanctus Gabriel. Itnl. San GabricUo, San Gabriele, L' An- 
gelo Annunziatore. Fr. St. Gabriel. 

" I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God." — Luke i. 19. 

In those passages of Scripture where the Angel Ga- 
briel is mentioned by name, he is brought before us in 
the chai-acter of a Messenger onlv, and alwavs on im- 
portant occasions. In the Old Testament he is sent to 
Daniel to announce the return of the Jews from cap- 
tivity, and to ex])lain the vision which prefigures the 
destinies of mighty empires. His contest with the 
Angel of the kingdom of Persia, when St. Michael 
comes to his assistance, would be a splendid subject in 
fit hands ; I do not know that it has ever been painted. 
In the New Testament the mission of Gabriel is yet 
tnore sublime : he first appears to the high-priest Zach- 


arias, and fovotclls tlic hirtli of John the TJnptist, — a 
Miltjcc't which belon<;',s esjK'cially to the life of that saint. 
Six moutiis later, Gabriel is sent to announce the ap- 
jx'arance of the Redeemer of mankind.* 

In the Jewish tradition, Gabriel is tlic gnardian of 
the eelestial treasury. Ilenee, I presume, Milton has 
made him chief j^uardian of Paradise: — 

" Betwixt these rocky pillars Gabriel sat, 
Chief of the angelic guards, awaiting night." 

As the Angel who announced the birth of Christ, he 
has been venerated as the Angel who presides over 
child-birth. He foretells the birth of Samson, and, in 
the apocryphal legends, lie foretells to Joachim the 
birth of the Virgin. In the East, he is of great im- 
portance. Mahomet selected him as his immediate 
teacher and ins|)irer, and he became the great protect- 
ing angel of Islamism : licnce between Michael, the 
protector of the Jews and Christians, and Gabriel, the 
protector of the Moslem, there is supposed to exist no 
friendly feeling, — rather the reverse. 

In the New Testament, fiabriel is a much more im- 
portant personage than JNlichacl ; yet I have never met 
with any picture in which he figures singly as an object 
of worship. In devotional pictures he figures as the 
second of the three Archangels, — " Secondo fra i 
primi," as Tasso styles him ; or in his j)eculiar char- 
acter as the divine messenger of grace, '' t' Ai/i/clo (tn- 
mmziatore." He then usually bears in one hand a lily 
or a sceptre; in tlie other a scroll on which is inscribed, 
" Ave Makia, Gratia plena ! " t 

* "The stone on which stood the Angel Gabriel when he an- 
nounced to the most Blessed Virgin the great mystery of the 
Incarnation," is among the relics enumerated as existing in the 
church of the Santa Croce at Home. 

t In Paradise he sings forever the famous salutation : 

" Cantando Ave Maria f/rat/a plena 
Dinanzi a lei le sue ali distese." 

Dante, Par. 32. 

AKCflAXChLS. 121 

The suliject called the Anxlxciatiox is one of the 
most t'iV(|ui.'nt ami most iuiporttint, as it is one of the 
most bi-autiful, iu the whole range of Christian Art. 
It belouj^s, however, to the history of the Virgin, 
where I shall have occasion to treat it at length ; yet 
as the Angel Gal)riel here assumes, l»y direct JScriptiiral 
testimony, a distinct name and ijcrsonality, and as the 
dignity and si'j:niticance projier to a sn!»ject so often 
unworthily and perversely treated depend very much 
on the character and deportment given to the celestial 
messenger, I shall make a few observations in this 
place with respect to the treatment of the angel, only 
reserving the theme in its general bearing for futm*c 

In the early representations of the Annunciation it 
is treated as a religious mvsterv, and with a solemn 
simplicity and purity of feeling, which is very striking 
and graceful in itself, as well as iu harmony with the 
peculiar manner of the divine revelation. The scene 
is generally a porch or portico of a temi»le-like build- 
ing ; the Virgin stands (she is very, seldom seated, and 
then on a kindpf raised throne) ; the angel stands be- 
fore lier, at some distance : very often, she is within 
the portico ; he is without. Gabriel is a majestic 
being, generally robed in white, wearing the funic, 
and pallium a rantitjue, his flowing hair bound by a 
jewelled tiara, with large many-colored wings, and 
bearing the sceptre of sovereignty in the left hand, 
wliile the right is extended iu the act of benediction as 
well as salutation : <' Hail ! thou that art highlv fiv- 
vorcd ! Blessed art thou among women ! " He is 
the princijiul figure : the attitu<le of the Virgin, with 
her drapery drawn over her head, her eyes drooping, 
and her bauds folded on her bosom, is always expres- 
sive of the utmost submission and humility. So Dante 
introduces the image of the lowly "S'irgin receiving the 
angel as an illustration of the virtue of Humility: — 

" Ed avea in atto imjjressa esta favella 
' Ecce ancilla Dei " " — 


and Flaxman lias admirably embodied this idea, both 
in tlic lofty angel with outspread arms, and the kneel- 
ing Virgin. Sometimes the angel floats in, with his 
arms crossed over his bosom, but still with the air of a 
superior being, as in the beautiful figure by Loi'enzo 
Monaco, in the i'"lorence Gallery. 

The two figures are not always in the same picture ; 
it was a very general custom to place the Virgin and 
the Angel, the "Annunziata" and the "Angelo an- 
nunziatore," one on each side of the altar, the place 
of the Virgin being usually to the right of the specta- 
tor ; sometimes the figures are half-length : sometimes, 
when placed in the same picture, they are in two sepa- 
rate compartments, a pillar, or some other ornament, 
running up the picture between them ; as in many old 
altar-pieces, where the two figures are placed above or 
on each side of the Nativity, or the Baptism, or the 
Marriage at Cana, or some other scene from the life 
and miracles of our Saviour. This subject docs not 
appear on the sarcophagi ; the earliest instance I have 
met with is in tb.e mosaic series over the arch in front 
of the choir in the church of Santa Mjtfia jSIaggiore, at 
Rome, executed in the fifth century. Here we have 
two successive moments represented together. In the 
.first the angel is sent on his mission, and appears flying 
down from heaven; the earliest instance I have seen 
of an angel in the act of flight. In the second group 
the Virgin appears seated on a throne ; two angels 
stand behind her, supposed to represent her guardian 
angels, and the angel Gabriel stands in front with one 
hand extended. The dresses are classical, and there is 
not a trace of the mediaeval feeliua- or stvle, in the 
whole composition. 

In the Greek pictures, the Angel and the Virgin 
both stand ; and in the Annunciation of Cimabue the 
Greek formula is strictly adhered to. I have seen pic- 
tures of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, in which 
Gabriel enters as a princely ambassador, with three 
little angels bearing up his mantle behind : in a pic- 


turc in the collection of Prince Wal'.erstoin, one meek 
and l)eaatit'al anuel bears up the ricii robe.s of" tlie ma- 
jestic archangel, like a page in the train of" a sovereign 
prince. But from the beginning of the fourteenth cen- 
tury wc perceive a change of feeling, as well as a change 
of style : the A'cneration paid to the Virgin demanded 
another treatment. She becomes not merely the prin- 
cipal person, but the superior being ; she is the " Ee- 
gina angelorum," and the angel bows to her, or kneels 
before her, as to a queen.* Thus in tlie famous altar- 
piece at Cologne, the angel kneels ; lie bears a sceptre, 
and also a sealed roll, as if he were a celestial ambas- 
sador deliveriug his credentials : about the same period 
we sometimes see the angel merely with his hands 
folded over his breast, and his head inclined, delivering 
his message as if to a superior being. 

I cannot decide at wliut ])eriod the lily first replaced 
the sceptre in the hand of the angel, not merely as the 
emblem of purity, but as the symbol of the Virgin 
from the verse in the Canticles usually applied to her : 
'* I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valley." 
A lily is often placed in a vase near the Virgin, or 
in the foreground of the picture : of all the attributes 
placed in the hand of the angel, the lily is the most 
usual, and the most expressive. 

The painters of Siena, who often displayed a new 
and original sentiment in the treatment of a subject, 
have represented the angel Gabriel as the announcer 
of " ])cace on earth " ; he kneels before the Virgin, 
crowned with olive, and bearing a branch of olive in 

* See the TJrsuline Manual. " When an angel anciently ap- 
peared to the patriarchs or prophets, he was received with due 
honor as being exalted above them, both by nature and grace ; 
but when an archangel visited Mary, he was struck with her supe- 
rior dignity and pre-eminence, and, approaching, saluted her with 
admiration and respect. Tliough accustomed to the lustre of the 
highest heavenly spirits, yet he was dazzled and amazed at the 
dignity and spiritual glory of her whom he came to salute Mother 
of God, while the attention of the whole heaveoly court was with 
rapture fixed upon her.-' 


his hand, as in a picture by Taddco Bartoli. There 
is also a beautiful St. Gal)riel by Martin Sclion, stand- 
iu<^, and crowned with olive. So Dante : — 

" L' angel che venne in terra col decreto 
Delia molt' aniii lagrimata pace." 

Another passage in Dante which the painters seem to 
have had before them shows us the ^Madonna as queen, 
and the angel as adoring : — 

"Qual e quel angel che con tanto giuoco 
Guarda iiegli occhi la nostra regina 
Innamorato si che par di fuoco?" 
Ed egli a me, — " Baklezza e leggiadria 
Quanta esser puote in angelo ed in alma - 
Tutta e in lui, e si vok-m che sia I " 

It is in seeking this baklez:n e h'ljyiadria in a misx 
taken sense that the later painters have forgotten all 
the spiritual dignity of the Angel Messenger. 

AVhere the angel bears a lighted ta])er, Avhich the 
Virgin extends her hand to take from him ; or, kneel- 
ing, bears in liis hand a palm-branch, surmounted by 
seven or twelve stains, the subject represented is not the 
announcement of the birth of the Saviour, but the 
death of the Virgin, a part of lier legendary histoiy 
which is rarely treated and easily mistaken ; then the 
announcing ansrel is not Gabriel, but ^lichacl.* 

In old German Art, the angel in the Annunciation 
is habited in jiriestly garments richly embroidered. 
The scene is often the bedroom of the Virgin ; and 
while the announcing: anjrel enters and kneels at the 
threshold of the door, the Holy Ghost enters at the 
window. I have seen examples in which Gabriel, 
entering at a door behind the Virgin, unfolds his offi- 
cial " Ave Maria." He has no lily, or sceptre, and 
she is apjiareutl}'' conscious of his presence ■without 
seeing him.t 

* The Annunciation and the Death of the Tirpin, and the office 
and character of the announcing angel in both subjects, are fully 
treated and illustrated in the "Legends of the Madonna." 

t As in a verj' curious print by " I.e Graveur de 1466 " ; and 
there are other instances. 


But in the representations of the sixteenth century 
we find neitlier the solemnity of the early Italian nor 
the naivete of the early Grcrnian school ; and this di- 
vine subject hecomcs more and more materialized and 
familiari/X'd, until losin;^ its spiritual character, it strikes 
us as shockinj;ly prosaic. One cannot say that the 
anj^el is invarialily deficient in di;,'nity or the Virj^in 
in f^race. In the Venetian school and the Boloj^na 
school we find occasionally very beautiful Annuncia- 
tions ; but in j^cncral the half-draped Huttcrin;,^ an;;cls 
and the girlish-looking Vir^^ins are nothing less than 
offensive ; and in the attempt to vary the sentiment, 
the miluralisti have here run the risk of being much too 

In the Cathedral at Orvieto, the Annunciation is rep- 
resented in front of the choir by tAvo colossal statues 
by Francesco Mochi : to the right is the angel Gabriel, 
poised on a marble cloud, in an attitude so fantastic 
that he looks as if he were going to dance ; on the 
other side stands the Virgin, conceived in a spirit liow 
different ! — yet not less mistaken ; she has started 
from her throne ; with one hand she grasps it, with 
the other she seems to guard her person against the 
intruder : majesty at once, and fear, a look of insulted 
dignity, are in the air and attitude, — " jmr die mimicci 
e tenia nel tempo istesso," — but I thought of Mrs. Sid- 
dons while I looked, not of the Virgin Mary. 

This fault of sentiment I saw reversed, but erpially 
in the extreme, in another example, — a beautiful 
miniature.* The Virgin seated on the side of her bed 
sinks back alarmed, almost fainting ; the angel in a 
robe of crimson, with a white tunic, stands before her, 
half turning away and grasping his sceptre in his hand, 
with a proud commanding air, like a magnificent surly 
god, — a Jupiter who had received a repulse. 

I pass over other instances conceived in a taste even 
more blamable, — Gabriels like smirking, winged lord 

* Chant3 Royales, Paris Bibl. Nat., MS. No. 6989. 


chamberlains ; and Yirj2:ins, half prim, half voluptuous, 
— the sanctity and high solemnity of the event utterly 
lost. Let this suffice for the present : I may now leave 
the reader to his own feeling and discrimination. 

St. Raphael. 

Lat. Sanctus Raphael. Ital. San Ralfaello. Fr. Saint Raphael. 
Ger. Der Heilige Rafael. 

" I am Raphael, one of tlie Seven Holy Angels which present 
the prayers of the Saints, and which go in and out before the 
glory of the Holt One." — Tobit xii. 15. 

I HAVE already alluded to the established belief, that 
every individual man, nay, every created being, hath a 
guardian angel deputed to watch over liim : — Woe 
unto us, if, by our negligence or our self-will, we offend 
him on whose vigilance we depend for help and sal- 
vation ! But the prince of guardian spirits, the guar- 
dian angel of all humanity, is Raphael ; and in this 
character, according to the early Christians, he ap- 
peared to the shepherds b}' night " with good tidings 
of great joy, which shall be for all people." It is, how- 
ever, from the beautiful Heitrew romance of To-bit that 
his attributes are gathered : he is the protector of the 
young and innocent, and he watches over the pilgrim 
and the wayfarer. The character imputed to him in 
the Jewish traditions has been retained and amplified 
by Milton : Raphael is the angel sent by God to warn 
Adam : — 

" The affable archangel 
Raphael ; the sociable spirit that deigned 
To travel with Tobias, and secured 
His marriage with the seven times wedded maid." 

And the character of the angel is preserved through- 
out ; his sympathy with the human race, his benignity, 
his eloquence, his mild and social converse. So when 
Adam blesses him : — 


" Since to part, 
Go, heavenly guest, ethereal messenger. 
Sent from whose sovereign goodness I adore ! 
GetJtle to me and affable hath been 
Tliy condescension, and shall be honored ever 
"With grateful memory. Thou to mankind 
Be good and friendly still, and oft return ! " 

This character of bcnip:nityis stainj)cd on all the best 
reprcsoutatious of Raphael, which, however, are not 
common : they occur principally in the chapels dedi- 
cated to the holy guardian ancjels ; but there are also 
churches and chapels dedicated to him sin^dy. 

The devotional lignres of Ra])hael exhibit liim in 
the dress of a pilgrim or traveller, "his habit tit for 
speed succinct," sandals on his feet, his hair bound with, 
a iillet or diadem, the staif in his hand, and sometimes 
a bottle of water or a wallet {paneticre) slung to his 
licit. In the tigure by ^Murillo, one of the most beauti- 
ful pictures in the Lenchtenberg Gallery, Raphael is 
the guardian and guide of the votary who appears 
below, — a Ijishop who probably bore the same name.* 

Sometimes, as guardian sjjirit, he has a sword : the 
most beautiful example I could cite of this treatment is 
the figure in the Breviary of Anne of Bretagne (a. d. 
1500) ; he wears a pale-green tunic bordered with gold, 
and wings of a deep rose color ; he has a casket or 
wallet slung over his shoulder by a golden belt ; in 
one hand he holds a sword, and the other is raised with 
a warning gesture ; his countenance, beautiful and be- 
nign as possible, yet says, " Take heed." More com- 
monly, however, he carries a small casket, box, or vase, 
supposed to contain the "fishy charm" against the 
evil spirits. {Tobit vi. 6, 7.) 

Raphael, in his character of guardian angel, is gen- 
erally represented as leading the youthful Tobias. 
When, in order to mark the difivrcnce between the 
celestial and the mortal being, Tobit is figured so small 

* Mr. Stirling entitles this picture " an angel appearing to a 
Bishop at his prayers." 


as to look like a child, and when the ane:el wears his 
spirii-wiiifrs, and is not disguised, the whole subject 
hccomcs idealized : it is no longer an historical action, 
hut a devotional allegory ; and Tobias with his fish 
represents the CI;ristian, the believer, guarded and 
guided through his lifc-pilgriniage by the angelic 
monitor and minister of divine mercy. 

Thei-e is a small side chapel in the church of Saint 
Eu])iieniia, at Verona, dedicated to St. Raphael. The 
walls are painted with frescos from the story of Tobit ; 
and over the altar is that masterpiece of Carotto, rep- 
resenting the three ai'changels as three graceful spirit- 
like figures without Avings. Tlie altar being dedicated 
to Raphael, he is here the principal figure ; he alone 
has tl'.e glory encircling his head, and takes precedence 
(jf the others ; he stands in the centre leading Tobias, 
and looking down on him with an air of such saintly 
and benign protection, that one feels inclined to say or 
sing in the words of the litany, " Sancte Raphael, ado- 
lescentium pudicitite defensor, ora pro nobis ! " Even 
more divine is the St. Michael who stands on the riglit, 
with one hand gathering up the folds of his crimson 
robe, the other leaning on his great two-handed sword ; 
but such a head, such a countenance looking out upon 
us — so earnest, powerful, and serious ! — we recognize 
the Lord of Souls, the Angel of Judgment. To the 
left of Raphael stands Gabriel, the Angel of Redemp- 
tion ; he holds the lily, and looks up to heaven adoring : 
this is the least expressive of the three heads, but still 
beautiful ; and, on the whole, the picture left a stronger 
impression on my mind than any I had seen at Venice, 
the glorious Assumption excepted. The coloring in 
its glowing depth is like that of Giorgione. Vasari 
tells us, that this picture, painted when Carotto was 
young (about A. d. 1495), was criticised because the 
limbs of the angels Avcre too slender ; to which Carotto, 
famons for his repartees, replied, " Then they will fly 
the better ! " The drawing, however, it must be con- 
ceded, is not the Ijest part of the picture. 


The earliest picture of Titian Avliich romains to us 
is a St. Ra])liael lea<ling Tobias;* Ijeautiful, l)ut not 
equal, ceriaialy, to tliat of Carotto. Kapliael, as we 
mi;,^ht naturally suppose, painted his guardian angel 
and patron saint con ainore : t we have by him two St. 
Raphaels ; the first, a little figure executed when he 
was a l)oy in the studio of his master Pcrugino, is now 
on one side of an altar-piece in the Certosa at Pa\ ia. 
Later in life, and in one of his finest works, he lias in- 
troduced his patron saint with infinite bcautvof feelinyr: 
in the Madoaua doUa Pcsce.J the Virgin sits upon her 
throne, with the Infant Christ in her arms ; the angel 
Raphael presents Tobias, who is not here a youth, but 
a child ; while the Infant Christ turns away from the 
wise, bearded old doctor, who is intentlv studvinij- his 
great book, to welcome the angel and his charge. The 
head of the angel, looking up in the face of the Ala- 
donna, is in truth sublime : it would be impossible to 
determine whether it belongs to a masculine or a femi- 
nine being ; but none could doubt that it is a dicine 
being, filled with fervent, enthusiastic, adoring love. 
The fish in the hand of Tobias has given its name to 
the picture ; and I may as well observe that in the de- 
votional pictures, where the fish is merely an attribute, 
expressing Christian baptism, it is usually very small : 
in the story it is a sort of monster, which sprang out 
of the river and would have devoured him. 

All the subjects in which the Archangel Raphael is 
an actor belong to the history of Tobit. The scenes 
of this beautiful Scriptural ler/end — I must call it so — 
have been popular subjects of Art, particularly in the 
later schools, and have been admirably treated by some 
of the best Dutch and Elemish painters : the combi- 
nation of the picturesque and poetical with the homely 
and domestic recommended it particularly to Rem- 
brandt and his school. Tobias dragging the fish 

* lu the church of S. Marziale, Yenice. 
t P;is=uvant's Rafael, vol. ii. p. 6. 150. 
J Madrid Gallery. 



ashore, while the anprel stands by, is a fine jMrturcsqnc 
hiiulacape subject whicli has been often rei)catcd. Tiic 
spirited little sketch by Salvator,* in which the figure 
of the guardian angel is adniii'able for power and ani- 
mated grace; tl.e twiiiglit effect by Rembrandt;! 
anotlier by Domenichino ; three by Claude ; may be 
cited as examples. 

In such pictures, as it has been rightly observed, the 
angel ought not to have wings : lie is disguised as tlic 
friendly traveller. The doLT, which ought to be omitted 
in the devotional pictures, is here a part of the story, 
and figures with great propriety. 

Rembrandt painted the parting of Tobias and his 
parents four times ; Tobias led by the angel, four 
times: Tobias healing his father, once; the departure 
of the angel, twice. Of this last subject, the picture 
in the Louvre may be pronounced one of his finest ; — 
miraculous for true and spirited expression, and for the 
action of the soaring angel, who parts the clouds and 
strikes throuL;h the air like a strong swimmer through 
the waves of the sea. 

The story of Tobit, as a series of subjects, has been 
very frequently represented, always in the genre and 
picturesque style of the later schools. I shall have to 
return to it hereafter ; here I have merely alluded to 
the devotional treatment, in order to direct attention to 
the proper character of the Archangel Raphael. 

And thus we have shown 

" hoMT Holy Church 
Doth represent with human countenance 
Gabriel and ^lichiel, and him who made 
Tobias whole." — Daxte, Far. c. Iv. 

* Louvre, No. 358. t In our National Gallery. 



1. In a picture by Gcntilu da Fabriano (Berlin Oallery, 1130), 
the Virgin and Child are enthroned, and on each side of the throne 
is a tree, on the branches of which are little red Seraphim winged 
and perched lilie birds, singing and making music. I remember ^ 
also a little Dutch ]jrint of a Riposo (u. "Legends of the 5Ia- 
donna"), in which five little angels are perched on tho trees 
above, singing and playing for the solace of the divine I.ifant. 
Thus we have Dante's idea of the Uccelti di Dio reproduced in a 
more familiar form . 

2. In the Convent of Sant-Angelo at Bologna, Camillo Procacci- 
no painted the "Acts of tlie Holy Angels" in the following order: 
1. The Fall of the Dragon. 2. The Angels drive Adam and Evo 
from Paradise. 3. The three Angels visit Abraham. 4. The An- 
gel stays the arm of Abraham. 5. The Angel wrestles with 
Jacob. 6. The Angels visit Jacob in a Dream. 7. The Angel 
delivers the three ChiMren in the burning fiery FurnacL>. 8. The 
Angel slays the IlDst of Scimacherib. 9. The Angel protects 
Tobit. 10. The Punishment of Ileliodorus. 11. The Annuncia- 
tion to Mary. It will be remarked that all these subjects are 
strictly Scriptural. 


" Matthew wrote for the Hebrews ; Mark, for the Italians ; Luke, 
for the Greeks ; for all, the; great herald John." — Gregory ]Sa- 

INCE on the Four Evangelists, as the wit- 
nesses and interpreters of a revealed religion, 
the whole Christian Church may be said to 
rest as upon four majestic pillars, we cannot 
1)C surprised that representations of them sb.ould abound, 
and tliat their effigies should have been introduced into 
Christian places of worship from very early times. 
Generally, we find them represented together, grouped, 
or in a scries; so:netimes in tlicir collective cliaracter, 
as the Four Witnesses ; sometimes in their individual 
character, each as an inspired teacher, or beneficent 
patron. As no authentic resemblances of these sacred 
personages hav? ever been known or even supposed to 
exist, such rr;)rcsentation- ha^-e always been either 
symholical or ifkal. In the symbol, the aim was to 
embody, under some emblematical image, the spiritual 
mission; in the ideal portrait, the artist, left to his own 
conception, borrowed from Scripture some leading trait 
(when Scripture afforded any authority for such), and 
adding, with what success his skill could attain, all that 
his imagination could conceive, as expressive of dig- 
nity and persuasive eloquence, — the look "commercing 
with the skies," the commanding form, the reverend 



face, tlie ample draperies, — he put the hook or the pen 
into his hand, and thus the writer and the teacher of 
the truth was j)laced before us. 

The earhest type uu-ler which the Four Evangelists 
are figured is an emldera of the simplest kind : four 
scrolls placed in the four angles of a Greek cross, or 
four books (the Gospels), represented allegorically those 
who wrote or promulgated them. The second type 
chosen was more poetical, — the four rivers which had 
their source in Paradise: representations of this kind, 
in wliich the Saviour, figured as a lamb holding the 
cross, or in his human form, with a lamb near him, 
stands on an eminence, from wliich gush four rivers or 
fountains, are to be met with in the catacombs, on an- 
cient sarcophagi preserved among the Christian relics 
in the Vatican, and in several old churches constructed 
between the second and the fifth century. 
- .At what period the four mysterious creatures in the 
vision of Ezekiel (ch. i. 5) were first adopted as sig- 
nificant sym!)ols of the Four Evangelists does not 
seem clear. The Jewish doctors interpreted them as 
fi^ruring the Four Archangels, — Michael, Raphael, 
Gabriel, Uriel ; and afterwards applied them as em- 
blems of the Four Great Prophets, — Isaiah, Jeremiah, 
Ezekiel, and Daniel. By the early Oriental Christians, 
wiio typified the whole of tlie Old Testament, the trans- 
fer of the emljlera to the Four Evangelists seems ob- 
vious and easy ; we find it alluded to as early as the 
se-'ond century. The four " Beasts" of corresjjondi ng 
for.n in the Revelation (chap. iv. 7), wliich stood round 
the throne of the Lamb, were likewise thus interpreted ; 
hnt it was not till the fifth century that we find these 
symbols assuming a visii)le form, and introduced into 
works of art. In the seventh centurv they had become 
almost universal, as distiuctiAe attributes. 

TI13 general application of the Four Creatures to the 
Four Evangelists is of much earlier date than the scpa- 
r.ite and individual application of each symliol, which 
has varied at diftereut times; that propounded by Si. 


Jerome, in his commentary on Ezekiel, has since his time 
prevailed universally. Thus, then, 1 . To St. Matthew 
was given the Cherub, or human semblance, because he 
begins his Gospel with the human geucvatiou of Christ ; 
or, according to others, because in his Gospel the human 
nature of the Saviour is more insisted on than the 
divine. In the most ancient mosaics, the type is hu- 
man, not angelic, for the head is that of a man with a 
beard. 2. St. Mark has the Liox, because he has set 
forth the royal dignity of Christ ; or, according to 
others, because he begins with the mission of the Bap- 
tist — " the voice of one crying in the wilderness " — which 
is figured by the lion : or according to a third interpre- 
tation, the lion was allotted to St. Mark because there 
was, in the middle ages, a popular belief that the young 
of the lion was born dead, and after three days was 
awakened to vitality by the breath of its sire; some 
authors, however, represent the lion as vivifying his 
young not by his breath, but by his roar. In either 
case the application is the same ; the revival of the 
vounir lion Avas considered as svmbolical of the resur- 
rectiou, and Mark was commonly called the "liistonan 
of the resurrection." Another commentator observes 
that Mark begins his Gospel with "roaring"; "the 
voice of one crying in the wilderness"; and ends it 
fearfully with a curse, — "He that belie veth not shall 
be damned " ; and that, therefore, his appropriate attri- 
bute is the most terrible of beasts, the lion.* 3. Luke 
has the Ox, because he has dwelt on the priesthood of 
Christ, the ox being the emljlem of sacrifice. 4. John 
has the Eagle, which is the symbol of the highest in- 
spiration, because he soared upwards to the contempla- 
tion of the divine nature of the Saviour. 

But the order in Avliich, in theological Art, these 
symbols are placed, is not the same as the order of the 
Gospels according to the canon, liupertus considers 
the Pour Beasts as typical of the Incarnation, the Pas- 
sion, the Kesurrection, and the Ascension; an idea 

* Rupertus, Commcntar. in Apocal., c. 4. Mark nyI. 16. 


previously dwelt upon by Durandus, who ivl<ls, that 
the man and the lion are placed on the riiiht, l)ecause 
the incarnatioa and the resurrection are the joy of the 
whole earth ; whilst the ox. is on the left, because 
Christ's sacrifice was a trouble to the ajwstles ; and the 
e;i,u;Ie is above the ox, as suijfjestive of our Lord's up- 
ward fli;^ht into heaven. Accordini;^ to others, the 
proper order in the ascendinjr scale is thus : At the 
lowest point on the left, the ox ; to the rU;;ht, the lion ; 
above the ox, the eagle ; ajul above all, the angel. So 
in Rapliael's Vision of Ezckicl, the angel gazes into 
the face of the H(jly One, the others form his throne. 

I have dwelt on these fanciful interpretations and 
dis([uisitions, because the symbols of the Evangelists 
meet us at every turn ; in the mosaics of the old Italian 
cimrches, in the decoriftive sculjjtnrc of our old cathe- 
drals, in the Gothic stained glass, in the ancient pictures 
and miniatures, on the carved and chased covers of 
old books ; everywhere, in short, where enters the idea 
of their divine mission, — and where is it not? The 
profound thought, as well as the vivid imagination, ex- 
ercised in some of these earlv works of art, is beginning 
to be appreciated ; and we should lose the half of what 
is poetical and significant and venerable in these ap- 
parently arbitrary and fanciful symi)ols, if Ave merely 
seized the general intention, and not the relative and 
appropriate meaning of each. 

I will only add (for I have restricted myself to the 
consideration of the mvsteries of faith onlv so far as 
they are carried into the forms of Art), that these sym- 
bols of the Four Evangelists were in their combination 
held to be symbolical of the Eedcemer, in the fourfold 
character then universally assigned to him, as man, as 
king, as high-priest, and as God ; according to this 
Latin verse : — 

" Quatuor hasc Dominum signant animalia Christum, 
Est Homo nascendo, vitulusque sacer moriendo, 
Et Leo surgendo, coelos aqui'aqne petendo ; 
Nee minus hos scribas animalia et ipsa figurant." 


This would again alter the received order of the 
symbols, and place the angelic or human semblance 
lower than the rest : but I have never seen them so 
placed, at least I can recollect no instance. 

A Greek mosaic, existing in the Convent of Vato- 
pedi, on Mount Athos, exhibits an attempt to reduce 
to form the wild and sublime imagery of the prophet 
Ezekiel: the Evangelists, or rather the Gospels, arc 
represented as the tetramorph, or four-faced creature, 
with Avings full of eyes, and borne on wheels of living 

The Tetramorph, i. e. the union of the four attri- 
butes of tlie Evangelists, in one figure, is in Greek Art 
always angelic or winged, — a mysterious thing. The 
Tetramorph in Western Art has in some instances be- 
come monstrous, instead of my^ic and poetical. In a 
miniature of the Ilortus DeUciarum, we find the new 
LaAv, or Christianity, represented as a woman crowned 
and seated on an animal which, with the body of a 
horse, has the four heads of the mystic creatures ; and 
of the four feet, one is human ; one hoofed, for the ox ; 
one clawed like an eagle's ; and one like a lion's : un- 
derneath is inscriljed Animal Ecdeske. In some other 
examples, the Cljurch, or the new Law, is seated in a 
! triumphal car drawn by the eagle, the lion, and the ox, 
' while the angel holds the reins and drives as charioteer. 

The early images of the Evangelical symbol are 
uniformly represented with wings, for the same reason 
^ that wings Avere given to the angels, — they were an- 
gels, i. e. bringers of good tidings : for instance, in the 
earliest cxamjjle to which I can refer, a rude fragment 
of a bas-relief in terra-cotta, found in the catacombs, 
which represents a lamb with a glory holding a cross ; 
on the right, an angel in a sacerdotal garment (St. 
Matthew), on the left the Avinged ox (St. Luke), each 
holding a book. 

In the most ancient Christian churches we find these 
symbols perpetually recurring, generally in or over the 
recess at the east end (the apsis, or tribune), where 


stands the altar. And as the imapre of Christ, as the 
liedeemcr, either under the semblauce of the lamb, or 
ill his human likeness, as a grand, calm, solemn figure 
enthroned, and in the act of benediction, forms invaria- 
bly the principal object ; — almost as invariably the 
Evangelists are either at the four corners, or ranged in 
a line above or below, or they are over the arch in front 
of the tribune. Sometimes they are the heads only of 
the mystic creatures, on an azure ground, studded with 
stars, floating as in a firmament : or the half figure 
ends in a leafy scroll, like the genii in an arabesque; 
or the creature is given at full Icny-th and entire, with 
four wings, holding the book, and looking much like a 
figure in heraldry. 

The next step was the combination of the emblern 
with the human form, i. e. the head of the lion, ox, or 
eairlc set upon the figure of a man. There is a figure 
of St. John standing with the head of an eagle, holding 
the Gospel. There is anotlier rudely engraved in Miin- 
ter's work, with the eagle's head, wings upon the shoul- 
ders, and a scroll. I remember another of St. Jolin 
seated, writing, with the head and clawed feet of an 
eagle, and the body and hands of a man. Such figures 
as a series I have seen in ornaments, and frequently in 
illuminated MSS., but seldom in churches, and never 
of a large size. A very sti'iking and comparatively 
modern example of this peculiar treatment occurs in 
a bas-relief on the door of the College of St. Stephen 
and St. Lawrence, at Castiglione, in which the Four 
Evangelists are represented as half-length human fig- 
ures, amply draped and holding the Gospels, each wi;h 
the emidematic head and large outspread wings. The 
bronze bas-reliefs of the Evangelists on each side of 
the choir of St. Antonio, at Padua, are similar in form, 
and very fine, both in conception and workmansliip. 

Ill a series of full-lengt!i figures from the first com- 
partment of the Life of Christ by Angelico da Fiesole 
(Fl. Acad.), the figures stand round a mystic circle, 
alternately \\ith the prophets. We must remember, 


that however monstrous and grotesque such figures 
may appear to the eye, they are not more unnatural 
than the angelic representations with which we are so 
familiar that we see in them beauty only, — not consid- 
ering that men with the wings of birds are as merely 
emblematical and impossible as men with animal heads. 
It is interesting, and leads the mind to many specula- 
tions, to remark that the Babylonish captivity must 
have familiarized the Israelites with the combination 
of the human and animal attributes in the same figure. 
The gigantic bas-reliefs from Nineveh show us winged 
bulls with human heads, and the human form with the 
eagle's head and wings. 

In a few later examples the only symbolical attribute 
retained is a pair of wings. There is a curious set of 
Evangelists, of a minute size, and exquisitely engraved 
by Hans Beham : they are habited in the old German 
fashion ; each has his book, his emblem, and in addi- 
tion the expressive wings. 

These animal-symbols, whether alone or in combina- 
tion witli the human forms, Avere perfectly intelligible 
to the people, sanctified in their eyes by tradition, by 
custom, and by the most solemn associations. All 
direct imitation of nature was, by the best painters, 
carefully avoided. In tliis respect how fine is Eaphacl's 
Vision of Ezckicl ! how sublime and liow true in feel- 
ing and conception ! where the IMcssiah comes floating 
along, upborne by the Four Creatures, — mysterious, 
spiritual, Avondcrful beings, animals in form, but in all 
else unearthly, and the winged ox not less divine than 
the winged angel ! * Whereas in the later times, when 
the artist piqued himself upon the imitation of nature, 
the mystic and venerable significance was wholly lost 
As a striking instance of this mistaken style of treat- 

* There is a small and beautiful picture by Giulio Romano in 
the Belvedere at Vienna, representing the emblems of the Four 
Evangelists grouped in a picturesque manner, which was proba- 
bly suggested by E.aphael's celebrated picture, which is iu the 
Pitti palace at Florence. 


Tticnt, wc may turn to the fainons {rroup of tlic Four 
Evanf]:elists hy Ru!)Ciis,* grand, colossal, standitij:-, or 
rather nioviug figures, each with liis einhleni, if em- 
hleins they can be called which are almost as full of 
reality as nature itself: — the ox so like life we expect 
him to bellow at us ; the magnificent lion flourishing 
his tail, and looking at St. Mark as if about to roar at 
him ! — aiKl herein lies the mistake of the great painter, 
that, for the religious and mysterious emblem, he has 
substituted the creatures themselves : this being one of 
the instances, not unfre(iuent in Art, in which the literal 
truth becomes a manifest falsehood. 

In ecclesijistical decoration the Four Evangelists are 
sometimes grouped signirtiautly with the Four Greater 
Prophets ; thus representing the connection between 
the new and the old Law. I met with a curious in- 
stance in the Cathedral of Cliartres. The five great 
windows over the south door may be said to contain a 
succinct system of theology, according to the belief of 
the thirteenth ceutuiy : here the Virgin, i. e. the Church 
or Religion, occupies the central window ; on one side 
is Jeremiah, carrying on his shoulders St. Luke, and 
Isaiah carrying St. Matthew ; on the other side, Eze- 
kiel bears St. John, and Daniel St. Mark ; thus repre- 
senting the New Testament resting on the Old. 

In ecclesiastical decoration, and particularly in the 
stained glass, they are often found in coml)ination with 
the Four Doctors, the Evangelists being considered as 
witnesses, the Doctors as interpreters, of the truth : or 
as a series with the Four Greater Prophets, the Four 
Sibyls, and the Four Doctors of the Church, the Evan- 
gelists taking the third i)lace. 

If, as late as the sixteenth century, we find the Evan- 
gelists still expressed by t!ie mystic emblems (as in the 
fine bronzes in the choir of Sant Antonio at Padua), as 
early as tlie sixth we have in the Greek MSS. and mo- 
saics the Evangelists as venerable men, and promulga- 
tors of a revelation ; as in San Vitale at Ravenna (a. D: 

* Grosvenor Gallery. 


547) : on each side of the choir, nearest the altar, we 
find the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah ; then follow the 
Evangelists, two on each side, all alike, all classically 
draped in white tunics, each holding an open book, on 
which is inscribed " Secundum INIarcum," " Secundum 
Johannem," &c. ; and above each tlie animal syml)ol 
or attribute, large, full length, and grandly designed. 
In modern ecclesiastical decoration, the usual and ap- 
propriate situation of the Four Evangehsts is immedi- 
ately under the dome, nearest to the Saviour, after the 
angels, or after the prophets, where either are intro- 
duced. I will mention here a few examples celebrated 
in the history of Art ; premising that among the Avorks 
of Leonardo, of Michael Angelo, and Raphael, v.-e find 
no representations of the Four Evangelists ; which is 
singular, considering that such figures entered necessa- 
rily into every scheme of theological decorative art. 

By Cimabue (a. d. 1270), larger than life, on the 
vault of the choir in San Francesco d' Assisi. 

By Giotto (a. d. 1320), in the choir of Sant' Apolli- 
nare, at Ravenna : seated, and each accompanied by 
one of the doctors of the church. 

By Angelico (a. d. 1390), round the dome of the 
chapel of San Niccolb, in the Vatican ; all seated, 
each with his emblem. 

By Masaccio (a. d. 1420), round the dome of the 
chapel of the Passion in San Clemente, at Rome ; ad- 
mirable for simple grandeur. 

By Perugino (a. d. 1490), on the dome of the chapel 
del Cambio, at Perugia ; the heads admirable. 

By Correggio (a. d. 1520), immediately under the 
cupola of San Giovanni, in four lunettes, magnificent 
figures : and again in the Cathedral of Parma, each 
seated in glory, with one of the doctors of the Church. 

By Domenichino, two sets (a. d. 1620). Those in 
the church of St. Andrea dclla Valle, at Rome, are 
considered his finest Avorks, and celebrated in the liis- 
torv of art : they are grand figures. The emblematical 
animals are here combined Avith the personages in a 


manner the most studied and picturesque ; and the 
anj^eis -which sport around them, playin;,' witli the 
mane of St. Mark's lion, or the ])allet and i)cnciU 
of St. Luke, are like beautiful "Au)oretti," — hut we 
hardlv think of anirels. The series at Grotta-Fcrrata 
is inferior. 

The Four Evangelists by Valentin (a. d. 1632), in 
tlie Louvre, had once great celebrity, and have been 
often engraved ; they appear to me signal examples 
of all that should be avoided in character and senti- 
ment. St. Matthew, for example, is an old beggar ; 
the model for the attendant angel is a little French 
gamin, " a qui Valentin a comniande' de sortir un bras 
de la manclie de sa chemise, que de I'autre main il 
soutient gauchemcnt." 

Le Sueur (a. d. 1G55) has represented the Four 
Evangelists seated at a tal)le writing ; the Holy Ghost 
descends upon them in the form of a dove. 

Towards the end of the seventeenth century, we find 
sets of the Evangelists in which the emblems are alto- 
gether omitted, and the personages distinguished by 
their situation, or by their names inscril)ed under or 
over them : but we miss those antique Scriptural at- 
tributes which placed them before us as beings fore- 
shadowed in the prophecies uttered of old ; they have 
become mere men. 

This must suffice for the Evangelists considered as a 
series and in their collective character ; but it will be 
interesting to pause for a moment, and take a rapid 
retrospective view of the i^rogress, froni first to last, in 
the expression of an idea through form. 

First, we have the mere fact ; the four scrolls, or 
the four books. 

Next, the idea ; the four rivers of salvation flowing 
from on high, to fertilize the whole earth. 

Thirdly, the prophetic Symbol ; the winged cherub 
of fourfold aspect. 

Next, the Christian Symbol ; the four " beasts " in 
the Apocalypse, with or without the angel-wings. 

142 SACRED AM) i P. GEN DA It 1' ART. 

Then the coraljination of the emblematical animal with 
the human form. 

Then the Iniman personages, each of venerable or 
inspired aspect, as becomes the teaclier and ■witness ; 
and each attended by the Scri])tural emljlem — no 
longer an emblem, but an attribute — marking his in- 
dividual vocation and character. 

And, lastly, the emblem and attribute both dis- 
carded, we have the human being only, holding his 
Gospel, i. e. his version of the doctrine of Christ. 

St. Matthew. 

Lot. S. Mattheus. Ital. San Matteo. Fr. Saint Matthieu 
Ger. St. Matthaus. Sept. 21. 

St. Matthew among the Apostles takes the seventh 
or eighth jdace, but as an Evangelist he always stands 
first, because his Gospel was the earliest written. Very 
little is certainly known concerning him, his name oc- 
curring but once in his own Gospel, and in the other 
Gospels only incidentally with reference to two events. 

He was a Hebrew by birth ; by profession a pub- 
lican, or tax-gatherer, in the service of the Romans, — 
an office very lucrative, but particularly odious in the 
sight of his countrvmen. His original name was Levi. 
It is recorded in few words, that as he sat at the receipt 
of custom by the lake. of Gennesareth, Jesus, in passing 
by, saw him, and said unto him, " Follow me," and he 
left all and followed him ; and further, that he made a 
feast in his house, at which many publicans and sinners 
sat down with the Loi'd and his disciples, to the great 
astonishment and scandal of the Jews. So far the 
sacred record : the traditional and legendary history 
of St. ]\Iatthew is equally scanty. It is related in the 
Pfi-fcfto Lerjouhtrlo, that, after the dis])crsion of the 
apostles, he travelled into Egypt and Ethiopia, preach- 
ing the Gospel ; and having arrived in the capital of 
Ethiopia, he lodged in the house of the eunuch who 

ST. MATTriEW. 143 

had been baptized by Piiilip, and who entertained him 
with great honor. Tliero were two terrible nxagicuins 
at that tiino in Ethiopia, who by their diabolical spells 
and incantations kept all the people in snljection, 
afflicting them at the same time with strange and ter- 
ril)le diseases ; but St. Matthew overcame them, ami 
having baptized the people, they were delivered for- 
ever IVonr the malignant influence of these enchanters. 
And further, it is related that St. Matthew raised tlie 
son of the King of Egypt from the dead, and healed 
his daughter of the leprosy. The princess, whose 
name was Iphigcnia, he ])laced at the head of a com- 
munity of virgins dedicated to the service of God : and 
a certain wicked heathen king, liaving threatened to 
tear lier from her asylum, was struck by leprosy, and 
liis palace destroyed by fire. St. Matthew remained 
twenty-three years in Egypt and Ethiopia, and it is 
said that he perished in the ninetieth year of our era, 
under Domitian ; but the manner of his death is un- 
certain; according to the Greek legend he died in 
peace, but according to the tradition of the "Western 
Church he suffered martyrdom cither by the sword or 
the spear. 

Few churches are dedicated to St. INIatthew. I am 
not aware that he is the patron saint of any country, 
trade, or profession, unless it be that of tax-gatherer or 
exciseman ; and this is jierhaps the reason that, except 
where he figures as one of the series of Evangelists or 
Apostles, he is so seldom represented alone, or in de- 
votional pictures. In a ku'ge altar-piece, the " San 
Matteo " of Annibal Caracci,* he is standing before 
the throne of the Madonna, as a i)endant to John the 
Baptist, and gives his name to the picture : but such 
examples are uncommon. Wiieu he is portrayed as 
an evangelist, he holds a book or a pen ; and the 
angel, his proper attribute and attendant, stands by, 
pointing up to heaven, or dictating; or he holds the 
inkhorn, or he sujiports the book. In his character of 

* Dresden Gallery, No. 828. 


apostle, St. INIatthew frequently holds a purse or money- 
bajr, as significant of his former vocation. 

Kcither arc pictures from his life of frequent occur- 
rence. The principal incident, entitled the " Calling 
of Mattliew," has been occasionally, but not often, 
treated in painting. The motif is simple, and not easily 
mistaken. St. Matthew is seated at a kind of desk 
■with money before him ; various personages bring 
tribute; on one side is seen Christ, Avith one or tv.o 
of his disciples, generally Peter and Andrew ; St. 
Matthew is either looking towaixls him with an ex- 
pression of awe-struck attention, or he is rising from 
his seat, as in the act to follow : the mere accessories 
and number of the personages vary Avith the period of 
the composition, and the taste of the painter. 

1. The earliest instance I can cite, probably the 
oldest which has come down to us, is in a Greek ]\IS. 
of the ninth century.* St. Matthew sits Avith both 
hands on a heap of gold, lying on a table before him : 
he looks round at Christ, Avho is a little behind. 

2. St. Matthew is about to rise to follow the SaA-- 
iour ; by Matteo di Ser Cambio of Perugia, Avbo has 
represented his patron saint in a small composition.f 

3. In the Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace, 
there is a very curious and interesting picture of this 
subject, by JMabuse, Avhich once belonged to King 
Charles I., and is quaintly described in the old cata- 
logue of his pictures as " a A-ery old, defaced, curious 
altar-piece, upon a thick board, AAdiere Christ is calling 
St. MattheAV out of the custom-house; which picture 
Avas got in Queen Elizabeth's days, in the taking of 
Cains Mains (Cadiz), in Spain. Painted upon a board 
in a gilded arched frame, like an altar-piece ; containing 
ten big figures, less than half so big as the life, and 
some tAA'enty-two afar off less figures. Given to the 
King." In the foreground there is a rich achitectural 
porch, from Avhich St. Matthew is issuing in haste, 

* Paris Bib. du Roi, No. 510. 

t A. D. 1377. Eng. in Rossini, pi. 24. 



leavinj^ liis money-bags behind ; and in the background 
is seen the lake of Genncsareth and shipping. This 
picture was among the booty taken in Essex's expedi- 
tion against Cadiz in 1596, and probably stolen ironi 
some church. 

4. In the Vienna Gallery I found three pictures of 
the same subject, all by Hemessen, very quaint and 

5. At Dresden the same subject in the Venetian 
style by Ponlenone. 

6. By Ludovico Caracci, a grand scenic picture, 
painted for the Mcndicanti in Bologna. 

7. In a chapel of the church of San Luigi de' Fran- 
cesi, at Rome, there arc throe pictures by Caravaggio 
from the life of St. Matthew. Over the altar is the 
saint writing his Gospel ; he looks up at the attendant 
angel, wlio is behind, with outspread wings, and in the 
act of dictating. On the left is the calling of St. Mat- 
thew ; the saint, who has been counting money, rises 
with one hand on his breast, and turns to follow the 
Saviour : an old man, with spectacles on his nose, ex- 
amines with curio.sify the personage whose summons 
has had such a miraculous effect : a boy is slyly ap- 
propriating the money which the apostle has thrown 
down. The third picture is the martyrdom of the saint, 
who, in the sacerdotal habit, lies extended on a block, 
while a half-naked executioner raises the sword, and 
several spectators shrink back with horror. There is 
notliing dignified or poetical in these representations ; 
and though painted with all that power of effect which 
characterized Caravaggio, then at the height of his rep- 
utation, they have also his coarseness of feeling and 
execution : the priests were (not without reason) dis- 
satisfied ; and it required all the influence of his patron, 
Cardinal Giustiniani, to induce them to retain the pic- 
tures in the clmrch wiicre we now see them; — here 
we sympathize with the priests, rather than with the 
artist and his patron. 

The Feast which St. INIatthew made for our Saviour 


and his disciples is the subject of one of Paul Vero- 
nese's gorgeous banquet scenes ; that wliich he painted 
for the refectory of the Convent of St. John and St. 
Paul at Venice. It is now in the Academy, filling up 
tlie end wall of one of the great rooms, from side to' 
side, and seeming to let in light and air through the 
lofty marble porticos, which give us such a magnificent 
idea of the splendor which surrounded Levi before he 
left all to follow Jesus. 

In all the representations of the death of St. !Mat- 
thew, except those of the Greek or Byzantine school, 
lie dies by the sword. Tiie Greek artists uniformly 
exhibit him as dying in peace, while an ?fcngel swings 
the censer beside his bed ; as on the ancient doors of 
San Paolo at Rome. 

Pictures from the legendary life of St. MatthcAv are 
very rare. The most reniarkal)le are the frescos in the 
chapel of San Matteo at Ravenna, attributed to Giotto. 
They are so much ruined that, of the eight subjects 
represented, only three — his vocation, his preaching 
and healing the sick in Ethiopia, and the baptism of 
the king and queen — can be made out. In the Bed' 
ford missal at Paris I found a miniature, representing 
St. Matthew " healing the son and daughter of King 
Egyptus of the leprosy"; but, as a subject of art, ho 
ha not popular. 

St. ]\Iaek. 

Lat. S. Marcus. Ital. San Marco Evangelista. Fr. St. Marc. 
Ger. Der Heilige Marcus. April 25, a. d. 68. 

St. ]Mark the Evangelist was not one of the twelve 
Apostles : his conversion apparently took place after 
the ascension. He was the companion and assistant of 
Paul and Barnabas, with whom he preached the Gospel 
among the Gentiles. According to the traditions re- 
ceived in the Roman Church he was converted by St. 
Peter, and became his favorite disciple ; attended him 



first to Aquileia, where they converted and haptizcd 
the people 011 the shores of the Adriatic, and thenee lo 
Home. While there he wrote his (Ju?pel fur the use uf 
the Uomiiu converts, — eomc say from the dictation 
of the apostle. lie afterwards, hy command of St. 
Peter, went to preach the Gospel in E,iryj)t ; and after 
preachinijc in Lvhia and Thehais for twelve years, he 
founded the church of Alexandria, suhsequcntly one of 
the most celehrated of all the early Christian churdies. 
The ire of the heatlicn hein;^ stirred up a<;aiiist him 
hccause of his miracles, they reviled him as a ma;rician, 
ami, durinjj: the feast of their god Serapis, seized him 
w hile ill the act of worship, l)ound him, and drag;j:ed 
hi in alonj^ the streets and hi<rhways, and over stony 
and rocky places, till he perished miserahly ; at the 
same time a dreadful tempest of hail and liLchtninjr fell 
upon his miu'derei-s, hy which they were disperacd and 
destroyed. The Christians of Alexandria huried his 
mangled remains, and his sepulchre was reirardod with 
great reverence for several centuries. Ahout 815, a. d., 
some Venetian merc-hants trading to Alexandria carried 
off the relics (literally stole them, — ''convey the wise 
it call!") and they were deposited in the city of Ven- 
ice, where the stately church of St. ^lark was huilt 
over them. Since that tiuie, St. Mark has hecn lion- 
ored as the patron saint of Venice, and his legendary 
history has supplied the Venetian painters with many 
beautiful and jticturesque subjects. 

When St. ]NLvrk is represented as one of the four 
Evangelists, either singly or grouped with the others, 
he is almost invariably accompanied by the lion, winged 
or unwMnged, but generally winged, — which distin- 
guishes him from St. Jerome, who is also accompanied 
by the lion, but unwinged, as we shall see hereafter. 

In devotional representations, St. Mark often wears 
the, habit of bisliop, as first bishop of Alexandria. He 
is thus represL'iited in the colo.ssal mosaic over the 
principal door of St. Mark's at Venice *'in the pontifi' 

* Designed by Titian, and executed by F. ZuccatL 


cals of a Greek bishop, no mitre, short frray hair and 
beard ; one hand raised in benediction, the other hold- 
ing tlie Gospel. 

Of the innumerable pictures in wliich St. ]\Iark 
figures as patron of Venice, I can aftbrd to give a few 
examples only. 

1. A. Busati. He is seated on a throne; an open 
book in one hand, bearing inscribed the Venetian 
motto ("/a Leggenda cle' Veneti") Pax tibi, ]Makce, 
EvAXGELiSTA MEL'S ; the otiier hand blessing: behind 
him a fig-tree, with leaves and no fruit ; probably in 
allusion to the text, ch. xi. 13, -wliich is peculiar to St. 
Mark. On his light slands St. Andrew bearing a 
cross ; on the left St. Bernardino of Siena ; behind 
him the apple-tree -Nvhich <' brought death into the 
world and all our woe." This votive picture, from its 
mystical accessories and the introduction of St. Bernar- 
dino, was probably painted for the Franciscans {i Frari) 
of Venice. It is now in the Academy there. 

2. St. Mark on a lofty throne holds his Gospel in his 
hand ; at his feet the four saints who are protectoi'S 
against sickness and pestilence, St. Sel)astian, St. Koch, 
St. Cosmo, and St. Damian : a splendid picture, in 
Titian's early manner.* 3. St. Mark jdants the stand- 
ard of Venice, by Bonifazio. And 4. " San Marco che 
assista all' coscriziouc maritima " (i. c. the enlisting 
of the mariners for the service of the state), by G. 
del ]Moro, both curious instances of the manner in 
which the Venetians mixed u]) their patron saint with 
all their political and military transactions. 5. St. 
Mark presents the Doge Leonardo Dona to the Virgin ; 
the most remarkable of a numerous class of votive 
pictures, common in the Venetian school, in which St. 
Mark introduces either the Doge or some general or 
maguitico to the Virgiu.t 

* It is so like Giorgione in sentiment and color that it has been 
attributetl to him. 

t Beneath the monument of NicoloOrsini in the SS. Giovanni-e- 
Paolo at Venice. A very remarkable and beautiful picture of 

sr. MARK. 149 

Amonjr the devotional pioturcs of St. Mark, one of 
tlie most famous is that of Fra Uartolomeo, in the Pal- 
hi/zu l*itti. lie is represented as a man in the prime of 
life, with bushy liair, and a short reddish heard, throned 
in a niche, and hoUling iu one hand the Gospel, in the 
other a pen ; the lion is omitted. The Fratc ])ainted 
liiis picture for his own convent of San Marco at Flor- 
ence. It is much lauded and celebrated, Init the atti- 
tude appeared to mc rather forced, and the features 
rather commonplace. 

The legend wiiich descrUies St. Mark as the disciple 
and amanuensis of St. Peter has given occasion for 
those votive pictures iu which they are represented to- 
gether. 1. In the treasury of St. Mark's is preserved 
a golden reliquary of a square form, containing, it is 
said, a fragment of the original Gospel in the hand- 
writing of St. Mark ; tl«c chased cover represents St. 
Peter on a throne, and before him kneels the Evange- 
list, writing from his dictation. 2. And again, in an 
ancient Greek Evangelarium,* St. !Mark is seated, writ- 
ing ; St. Peter stamls before him witli his hand raised 
as dictating. 3. In a beautiful picture by Angelico da 
Fiesole,t St. Peter is in a pulpit preaching to the Ro- 
mans ; and Mark, seated, is taking do^\^^ his words in 
a book. 4. St. Peter and St. Mark standing together, 
tlie former holding a book, the latter a pen, with an 
inkhorn suspended from his girdle, by Bellini ; J and, 
5. a similar one by Bonvicino, — very beautiful. § Such 
j)ictures are extremely interesting, showing the opinion 
generally entertained of the origin of St. Mark's Gos- 

Historical pictures from the legendary life of St. 
^lark abound in the Veuetiau school, but are not often 
found out of Venice. 

this class is in the Berlin Gallery (Sn. 31G). St. Mark, enthroned 
and liolding his Gospel open oa liis knees, is instructing three of 
the Procuradori di San Marco, vho kneel before him in their 
rich crkasm dr sses and listen reverently. 

* Venice Ducal Palace. t i'l- Gal. 

t Venice Acad. § Brera, Milan. 


St. Mark preaching the Gospel at Alexamlria, by 
Gentil Bellini,* a very large composition witli numer- 
ous liguros, is on many accounts extremely curious. 
The painter, who had been at Constauiinoitle, trans- 
ferretl to Alexandria the Oriental scenery and costume 
with which he had become acquainted. The church 
of St. Euj^hemia at Alexandria, in the background, has 
the air of a Turkish mosque ; a crowd of persons, men 
and women, in the costume of the Turks, surround the 
Baint, who is standing on a kind of pedestal or plat- 
form, ascended by a flight of steps, from Avhich he ad- 
dresses his audience with great fervor. Gentil Bellini 
painted this picture for the Scuola di San Marco, at 

It is related that one day St. Mark, in his progress 
through the city of Alexandria, saw a poor cobbler, 
who had wounded his hand severely with his awl, so as 
to be incapacitated from gaining his bread. St. Mark 
healed the wound ; and the cobbler, whose name was 
Auianus, being converted and properly instructed, be- 
came a zealous Christian, and succeeded St. Mark as 
bishop of Alexandria. This miraculous cure of St. 
Anianus, and his subsequent baptism, are represented 
in two pictures by Mansueti.t In the Berlin Gallery is 
the cure of St. Anianus, by Ciraa da Conegliauo ; a 
large composition with many tigures. The cure and 
baptism of St. Anianus, represented as a very aged 
man, form the subjects of two fine bas-reliefs on the 
facade of the School of St. Mark, by TuUio Lombard©, 
A. D. 1502. 

In the ^lartyrdora of St. Mark, he is dragged through 
the streets by the enraged populace, who haul him 
along by a rope; a storm from above overwhelms the 
idolaters. The subject is thus represented by Angelico 
da FiosolcJ 

* Brera, Milan. 

t A. D. 1500. Scuola di S. Marco, Venice. 

\ ri. Gal. 

ST. MARK. 151 

A famous leircnd of St. Mark, which has been the 
subject of several pictures, can only be worthilv uivcu 
in tlio hin^ruauc of tlie old Venetian chronicle. Tliere 
is sometbiii;;' jjcrfectly eharniiuij: in the picturescjuo 
na\V('te and nnUter-of-tact detail with wiiich tliis wild 
and wonderful story is related ; and if you, reader-, 
liavc ever stood on the steps of the Piazzetta and 
looked over to San Giorj^io, or San Niecolo, when the 
waves of the Lajjjunc were foaminj^ and drivini,^ up to 
your feet, and storm-clouds stoopinu" and lo\verin<^ 
seemed to touch the very domes and campanile around, 
then you will have the whole scene as a reality before 

On the 2rjth of February, 1340, there fell out a won- 
dcn'ul tiling in this land ; ft)r during three days the 
Avators rose continually, and in the ni^L^bt there was 
fearful rain and tempest, such as had never been heard 
of. So f^reat was the storm that the waters rose three 
cubits hiiiher than had ever been known in ^'enice ; 
and an old fisherman, being in his little boat in the 
canal of St. Mark, rciwhed with difficulty the Riva di 
San Marco, and there he fastened his boat, and waited 
the ceasing of the storm. And it is related that, at the 
time this storm was at the highest, there came an lui- 
known man, and besought him that he would row him 
over to San Giorgio Maggioiv, jjromising to pay liim 
well ; and the fisherman replied, ' How is it possible to 
go to San Giorgio ? we shall sink by the way!' But 
the man only besought him the more that he should set 
forth. So, seeing that it was the will of God, he ai-ose 
and rowed over to San Giorgio Maggiore ; and the man 
landed there, and desired the boatman to wait. In a 
short while he returned with a voung man ; and thcv 
said, 'Xow row towards San Niecolo di Lido.' And 
the fisherman said, ' How can one possibly go so far 
with one oar ? ' And they said, ' Kow boldly, for it 
shall be possible to tlice, and thou shalt be well paid.' 
And he went; and it appeared to him as if the waters 
were smooth. Bjing arrived at San Niecolo di Lido, 



the two men landed, and returned with a tliird, and, 
having: entered into the boat, they commanded the fish- 
ernian tluit he should row beyond the two castles. And 
the tempest raged continually. Being come to the open 
sea, they beheld approaching, with such tenific speed 
that it appeared to fly over the waters, an enormous 
galley full of demons (as it is written in the Chronicles, 
and Marco Sabellino also makes mention of this mira- 
cle) : the said bai-k approached the castles to overwhelm 
Venice, and to destroy it utterly ; anon the sea, which 
had hitherto been tumultuous, became calm ; and these 
three men, having made the sign of the cross, exorcised 
the demons, and commanded them to depart, and im- 
mediately the galley or the ship vanished. Then these 
three men commanded the fisherman to land them, tlie 
one at San Niccolb di Lido, the other at San Giorgio 
Maggiore, and the third at San ]SIarco. And when he 
had. landed the third, the fisherman, notwithstanding 
the miracle he had witnessed, desired that he would pay 
him ; and he replied, ' Thou art right ; go now to the 
Doge, and to the Procnratorc of St. ]\Iark, and tell 
them what thou hast seen, for Venice would have been 
overwhelmed had it not been for us tliree. I am St. 
:Mark the Evangelist, the protector of this city; the 
other is the brave knight St. George ; and he whom 
thou didst take up at the Lido is the holy bishop St. 
Nicholas. Say to the Doge and to the Procuratori* 
that they are to pay you ; and tell them likewise that 
this tenipest arose liecause of a certain schoolmaster 
dwelling at San Felice, who did sell his soul to the 
Devil, and afterwards hanged himself.' And the fish- 
erman replied, ' If I should tell them this, they will not 
believe me.' Tlien St. Mark took off a ring which 
was on his finger, which ring was worth five ducats ; 
and he said, ' Show them this, and tell them when they 
look in the sanctuary they will not find it' : and there- 

* The Proctiratori had the charge of the church and the treas. 
ury of St. Mark. 

ST. MARK. 153 

upon he disappeared. The next morning, the said 
tirihernian presented himself before the Doge, and re- 
hired all he had seen the night before, and sliowed him 
the ring for a sign. And tiie rroeuratori having sent 
for the ring, and sought in the usual place, found it 
not ; by reason of which miracle the fisherman was 
paid, and a solemn procession was ordained, giving 
thanks to God, and to the relics of the three holy 
saints, who rest in our land, and who delivered us from 
tliis great danger. The ring was given to Signor 
Marco Loredano and to Signor Andrea Dandolo the 
Procuratori, who placed it in the sanctuary ; and, 
moreover, a ])erpetual provision was made for the aged 
fisherman above mentioned." * 

This legend is the sul)ject of two celebrated pictures. 
The first attributed to Giorgione.t represents the storm. 
A ship, manned by demons, is seen towering over the 
waves : the demons appear to be seized with consterna- 
tion ; some fling themselves headlong over the side of 
their vessel, others arc clinging to the rigging, others 
sit on the masts, which ffamc with fire, and the glare is 
seen over the murky sky and sea. More in front are 
two barks, one rowed by four satyr-like demons, splen- 
did figures, admirably jmintcd, literally glowing as if 
they were red-hot, and full of tierce animation. In the 
other bai'k are seen the three saints, St. Mark, St. Nich- 
olas, and St. George, rowed by the fisherman ; sea- 
monsters are sporting amid the waves, demons bestride 
them ; the city of Venice is just visible in the far-off 
distance. Tiic whole picture is full of vigor and poetic 
feeling ; the fiery glow of color and the romantic style 
of Giorgione suited the subject ; and it has been ad- 
mirably restored. 

The second picture is by Paris Bordone,t and repre- 
sents the fisherman presenting the miraculous ring of 
St. Mark to the Doge Gradenigo. It is like a grand 
piece of scenic decoration : we have before us a raag- 

* Sanuto, Tite de' Duci Yeneti. 

t Acad. Yeiiice. t I^'<i- 


nificent marble hall, with columns and huiklinp^s in 
perspective ; to the right, on the summit of a flight of 
steps, sits the Doge in council ; the i)Oor tisliornian, 
ascending the steps, holds iortli tlic ring. The numer- 
ous figures, the vivid color, the luxuriant architecture, 
remind us of Paul Veronese, with, however, more deli- 
cacy, both in color and execution. 

A Christian slave, in the service of a certain noble- 
man of Provence, disobeyed the commands of his lord, 
and persisted in paying his devotions at the shrine of 
St. Mark, which Avas at some distance. On his return 
home, he was condemned to the torture. As it was 
about to be inflicted, the saint himself descended from 
heaven to aid his votary ; the instruments of torture 
were broken or blunted, the oi)pressor and his execu- 
tioners confounded. This legend is the subject of a 
celebrated picture by Tintoretto,* of which Mr. Rogers 
had the original sketch. The slave lies on the ground 
amid a crowd of spectators, who look on, animated by 
all the various emotions of sympathy, rage, terror; a 
woman in front, with a child in her arms, has always 
been admired for the life-like vivacity of lier attitude 
and expression. The executioner holds up the broken 
implements ; St. INIark, with a headlong movement, 
seems to rush down from heaven in haste to save his 
worshipper ; the dramatic groui)ing in this pictm-e is 
wonderful ; the coloring, in its gorgeous depth and 
harmony, is, in Mr. Rogers's sketch, finer than in the 

In St. Mark's, at Venice, we find the whole history 
of St. Mark on the vault of the Cappclla Zen (opening 
from the Baptistery), in a series of \cy\ curious mo- 
saics of the twclfih century. The translation of the 
body of St. Mark ; the carrying off the relics from 
Alexandria ; their arrival in Venice ; the grand relig- 
ious ceremonies which took place on their airival ; are 

* Acad. Venice. 

3T. LUKE. 155 

also represented in the mosaics over the porrir-o of St. 
Mark's, executed chiefly hetween 1650 and 1680. We 
have the same le^rend in two comi)Ositions of Tinto- 
retto * : in the first, the remains of St. ^larli are taken 
foreil)h' from the toml> by the Venetian mariners ; in 
the other, tliey are borne away to sea in a ni^iht-storm, 
while in the air is seen hoverine: a briirht transparent 
form, — the soul of the saiut flitting with his body to 

St. Luke. 

Lat. Sanctus Luca. Ital. San Luca. Fr. Saint Luc. Oct. 18. 

Of the real history of St. Luke we know very little. 
He was not an ajiostlc ; and, like St. Mark, appears to 
have been converted after the Ascension. He was a 
beloved disciple of St. Paul, whom he accompanied to 
Rome, and remained with his master and teacher till 
the last. It is related, that, after the martyrdom of 
St. Peter and St. Paul, he preached the Gospel in 
Greece and Egypt ; but whether he died a natural 
death, or suffered martyrdom, does not seem clear. 
The Greek traditions represent him as dying in peace, 
and his death was thus figured on the ancient doors of 
San Paolo at Rome. Others atfirm that he was cruci- 
fied at Patras with St. Andrew. 

There is some ground for the supposition that Luke 
was a physician. (Col. iv. 14.) But the pretty legend 
which makes him a painter, and represents him as 
painting the portrait of the Virgin Mary, is unsup- 
ported by any of the earlier traditions. It is of Greek 
origin, still universally received by the Greek Church, 
which considers painting a religious art, and numbers 
in its calendar of saints a long list of painters, as well 
as poets, musicians, and physicians. " Les Grecs," 
says Didron, " semhient avoir canonise des Chretiens 
tmiquement parcequ'ils s'occupaient de soulager le corps 

* Tenice, Ducal Palace. 


ou de charmer I'esprit." In the west of Europe, the 
legend which represents St. Luke as a painter can be 
traced no hiirlier than the tenth centurv ; the Greek 
painters introduced it ; and a rude drawing of the 
Virgin discovered in the catacombs, with an inscrip- 
tion purporting tliat it was " one of seven painted by 
Luca," confirmed the popular belief that St. Luke the 
Evangelist was meant. Thus originated the fame of 
innumerable A^irgins of peculiar sanctity, all attributed 
to his hand, and regarded with extreme veneration. 
Such ancient pictures are generally of Greek work- 
manship, and of a black complexion.* In the legend 
of St. Luke we are assured that he carried with him 
everywhere tAvo ])ortraits, painted by himself; one of 
our Saviour, and one of the Virgin ; and that by 
means of these he converted many of the heathen, for 
not only did they perform great miracles, but all who 
looked on these l)right and benign faces, Avhich bore a 
striking resemblance to each other, were moved to ad- 
miration and devotion. It is also said, that St. Luke 
painted many portraits of the Virgin, delighting him- 
self by repeating this gracious image ; and in the 
church of Santa ^Nlaria, in Via Lata, at Rome, they 
still show a little chapel in Avhich, " as it hath been 
handed down from the first ages, St. Luke the Evan- 

* The little black Tlrgin of the Monte del'a Guarclia, near Bo- 
logna, I saw carried in grand procession through the streets of 
that city, in May, 1847. The following inscription is engraved on 
a tablet in the church of San Dcmenico and San Sisto at Rome : 
" Here at the high altar is preserved that image of the most 
blessed Mary, which, being delineated by St. Luke the Evangelist, 
received its colors and form divinely. This is that image with 
which St. Gregory the Great (according to St. Antonine), as a 
suppliant, purified Rome ; and the pestilence being dispelled, 
the angel messenger of peace, from the summit of the castle of 
Adrian, commanding the Queen of Heaven to rejoice, restored 
health to the city." A Tirgin in the Ara Coeli pretends to the 
same honor : both these are black and ugly, while that in the S. 
Maria in Cosmedino is of uncommon dignity and beauty. See 
" Legends of the Madonna." 

ST. Li UK K. I c T 

f^felist wrote, and painted the effigy of the Virgin- 
mother of God." 

On the strength of this tradition, St. Lnke has heen 
chosen as the patron saint of painters. Academies of 
art are placed under his particular protection ; their 
chapels are dedicated to him, and over the altar we see 
him in his charming and ])iOus avocation, that of paint- 
ing portraits of the Blessed Virgin for the consolation 
of the faithful. 

The devotional figures of St. Luke, in l)is character 
of evangelist, represent him in general with his Gospel 
and his attendant ox, winged or unwingcd, as already 
described ; but in Greek Art, and in those schools of 
Art which have been particularly under the B\'zantine 
influence (as the early Veuetiaa), we see St, Luke as 
evangelist, young and beardless, holding the portrait of 
the Virgin as his attribute in one hand, and his Gospel 
in the other. A beautiful figure of St. Luke as evan- 
gelist and painter is in the famous " Heures d'Aune de 
Bretagne." * 

In an engraving by Lucas v. Leyden, executed as it 
should seem in honor of his patron saint, St. Luke is 
seated on the back of his ox, writing the Gospel ; he 
wears a hood like an old professor, rests his book 
against the horns of the animal, and his inkstand is 
suspended on the bough of a tree. But separate devo- 
tional figui-es of him as jDatron are as rare as those of 
St. Matthew. 

St. Luke painting the Virgin has heen a frequent 
and favorite subject. The most famous of all is a pic- 
ture in the Academy of St. Luke, at Home, ascribed 
to Raphael. Here St. Luke, kneeling on a footstool 
before an easel, is busied painting the Virgin with the 
child in her arms, wlio appears to him out of heaven, 
sustained by clouds : behind St. Luke stands Raphael 
himself looking on. Another of the same subject, a 
very small and beautiful picture, also ascribed to Ra- 
phael, is in the Grosvenor Gallery. In neither of 

* MS. A. D. 1500, Paris, Bib. Imp. 


these pictures is the ti-eatnient quite woi'thy of that 
great painter, wamiuj; his delicacy both of sentiment 
and execution. There is a most curious and quaint 
exanii)le in the Munich Gallery, attributed to A'an 
Eyck : here the Viry,in, seated under a rich Gothic 
canopy, holds on her lap the Infant Christ, in a most 
stitf attitude ; St. Luke, kneeling on one knee, is taking 
her likeness. There is another, siifiilar in style, by 
Aldcgracf, in the Vienna Gallery. Carlo Maratti rejv 
resents St. Luke as presenting to the Virgin the picture 
he has painted of her. St. Luke painting the ]Ma- 
donna and Child, while an angel is grinding his colors, 
I remember iu the Aguudo Gallery ; a late Spanish 

St. John. 

Lat. Sanctus Johannes. Gr. St. John Theologos, or the Pi vino. 
Ital. SauGioviiuui Evangelista. Fr. Saint Jean j Messire Saiut 
Jehau. Gcr. Per Heilige Joban. Dec. 27, a. d. 99. 

Of St. [Matthew, St. IMark, and St. Luke, so little 
is certaiidy known that we have no data on which to 
found an individual portrait; therefore any representa- 
tion of them as vetierable and iusi)ired teachers suthces 
to the fancy; but it is quite otherwise with St. John, 
the most distinguished of the Evangelists, and the most 
beloved of the disciples of our Lord. Of him sufficient 
is known to convey a distinct impression of his personal 
character, and an idea of what his ]XM-sonal api)earanco 
may have been, sujiposing this outward semblance to 
have harmonized with the inward being. 

He was the son of the lisherman Zebedee, and, with 
his brother James, among the first followers of the Sav- 
iour. He is emphatically called " the disciple whom 
Jesus loved" ; a preference wliich he merited, not crly 
from the extreme purity of his life and characr^u- ^-n 
from his devoted and att'ectionate natiuHj. He appe*n 

' F. Rizi, A. D. 16G0. 

ST. jonx. 


to have been at all times the constant companion of his 
divine Lord ; and his life, Avhile the Saviour was on 
earth, inseparable Ironi His. In all the menioraMe eir- 
cuinstan>-es recorded in the Gospel he was a party, or 
at least present. lie witnessed the glory of the trans- 
fi^ruration : he leaned on the bosom of Jesus at the last 
supper ; he stood i)y the cross in the hour of agony ; 
he laid the body of his crucitied Master in the sepul- 
chre. After the death of the Virgin Mother, who had 
been confided to his care, he went about Judita, preach- 
ing the Gospel with St. Peter. He then travelled into 
Asia Minor, wliere he founded the Seven Clnux-hcs, and 
resided principally at Ephesus. During the persecu- 
tion of the Christians under Domitian, St. John was 
sent in fetters to Home ; and, according to a tradition 
generally received in the Roman Church, he was cast 
into a caldron of boiling oil, but was miraculously 
preserved, and " came out of it as out of a refresliing 
bath." He was then accused of magic, and exiled to 
the island of Patmos, in the ^Egean Sea, where lie is 
said to have written his Hevelations. After the death 
6i' the Emperor l^omitian he was released, and returned 
to his church at Ephesus ; and for the use of the Chris- 
tians there he is said to have written his Gospel, at the 
age of ninctv. A few vears afterwards he died in that 
city, being nearly a century old. All the incidents here 
touched upon occur frequently as subjects of art, but 
most of them belong properly to the life of Christ. 

The personal character of St. John, at once attrac- 
tive and picturesque, has rendered him popular as a 
pati'on saint, and devotional pictures of him are far 
raoi'e numerous than of any of the other Evangelists. 

He is represented in one of his three characters : 1. 
as evangelist ; 2. as apostle ; 3. as prophet ; or the 
three are combined in one figure. 

1. Of the early eagle symbol, I have spoken at 

In Greek Art, whether as apostle or evangelist, St 


Jolm is always an aired man with wliite hair, and a 
venerable beard descending- to his breast; mKl by the 
earlier Latin painters, where he figures as evangelist 
only, not as apostle, this type has been adhered to ; but 
l]i3 later painters set it aside, and St. John the Evan- 
gelist, nearly a century old, has all the attributes of tlie 
youthful apostle. He is beardless, with light curling 
hair, and eyes gazing upwards in a rapture of inspira- 
tion : he is sometimes seated with his pen and his book, 
sometimes standing; the attendant eagle always near 
him, and frequently holding the pen or inkhorn in his 

In some of the old prints and pictures, which repre- 
sent St. Jolin as writing the Gospel, his eyes are turned 
on the Virgin with the Infant Christ in her arms, who 
appear as a vision in the skies above ; underneath, 
or on his book, is inscribed, " The "Word was made 
Hesh," or some other text of the same import. The 
eagle at his side has sometimes the nimbus, or a crown 
of stars,* and is then perhaps intended to figure tlie 
Holy Ghost. 

I remember an instance in which the Devil, intent on 
intercepting the message of reconcilement and " good- 
Avill towards men,'' which Avas destined to destroy his 
empire on earth, appears behind St. John, and is over- 
setting the ink upon the pages ; another, in which he is 
stealing away the inkhora. 

2. As one of the series of apostles, St. John is al- 
ways, in Western Art, young, or in the prime of life ; 
Avith little or no beard ; flowing or curling hair, gener- 
ally of a pale bi'own or golden hue, to express the del- 
icacy of his nature ; and in his countenance an expres- 
sion of benignity and candor. His drapery is, or ought 
to be, red, Avith a blue or green tunic. He bears in his 
hand the sacramental cup, from which a serpent is seen 
to issue. St. Isidore relates that, at Rome, an attempt 
Avas made to poison St. Jolm in the cup of the sacra- 
ment : he drank of the same and administered it to the 

* As in the Missal of Henry YIII., Bodleian. Oxford. 

ST. JOHN: i6i 

communicants witliout injury, the poison Iiaving- by a 
miracle issued from the cup in tlie form of a serpent, 
while the hired assassin fell down dead at his feet. Ac- 
cording to another version of this story, tlie poisoned 
cup was administered by order of the Emperor Domi- 
tian. According to a third version, Aristodemus, the 
high-priest of Diana, at Ephesus, defied him to drink 
of the poisoned chalice, as a test of the truth of his 
mission. St. John drank unliarmed, — the priest fell 
dead. Others say, and this seems the niore probable 
interpretation, that the cup in the hand of St. John al- 
ludes to the reply given by our Saviour, when the 
mother of James and John reiiuested for her sons tlie 
place of honor in heaven, — " Ye shall drink indeed of 
my cup." ^Vs ia other instances, the legend was in- 
vented to explain the symbol. "When the cup has the 
consee-rated wafer instead of the serpent, it signitics the 
institution of the Eucharist. 

Some of the old German representations of St. John 
arc of singular beauty : for example, one by Hans 
Hemiinrj, one by Isaac von ^felein* standing figures ; 
simple, graceful, majestic ; in the prime of youth, with 
a charming expression of devotion in the heads : both 
hold the sacramental cup with the serpent ; no eagle ; 
therefore St. John is here to be considered as the apos- 
tle only : when, with the cup, the eagle is placed by his 
side, he is rcpreseuted in the double chai-acter of apostle 
and evangelist. 


In the early Siena school, and in some old illumina- 
tions, I have seen St. John carrying in his hand a ra- 
diant circle, inscribed " In primo est verbiim," and within 
the circle an eagle with outspread wings : but this is 
uncommon, . 

3. St. John as the prophet, the writer of the Revela- 
tions, is usually an aged man, with a white flowing 
beard, seated in a rocky desert ; the sea in the distance, 

* Both among the fine lithographs of the Boisseree Gallery. 
1 1 


or flowing round him, to represent the ishmd of Pat- 
morf ; tiic eajxlc at his side. In the old frescos, and tlie 
illuminated MSS. of the Apocalypse, this is the usual 

Some examples of the ideal and devotional figures 
of St. John, as evangelist and prophet, will give an 
idea of the variety of treatment in this favorite sub- 
ject : — 

1. Ancient Greek. St. John, Avith the head of an 
eagle and large wings, the figure fully draped, is soar- 
ing upwards. In such representations the inscription 
is usually, Quasi aquila ascendet et avolahit, "Behold, 
he shall come up and fly as the eagle." (Jcr. xlix. 22.) 

2. Perugino. vSt. «Tohn as an aged man, with long 
gray heard and flowing hair, attended by a black eagle, 
looking up at the Madonna in glory.* 

3. Raphael (?). St. John, young and beautiful, 
mounted on the back of an eagle, and soaring heaven- 
wards : in one hand he holds a tablet, in the other a 
pen : sea and land below. This treatment, which re- 
calls the antique Jupiter bestriding his eagle, appears 
to me at once too theatrical and too commonplace for 


4. Correggio. St. John seated writing his Gospel ; 
the eagle at his feet is pluming his wing : inscribed 
" Aldus ceteris Del patefecit arcana." One of the series 
of Evangelists in the Duomo of Parma, — wonderfully 

5- Domenichino. St. John, full length, life size; 
young and beautiful, in an ecstasy of inspiration, and 
sustained by two angels ; the eagle at his feet : for- 
merly in the Giustiniani Gallery ; J — finer, I think, 
than the St. John in Sant' Andrea. Another, half 
length, a scroll in his hand, looking upwards as one to 
Avhom the glory of the heavens had been opened ; — 
you see it reflected in his eyes, — Avhile love, wonder, 

* Acad. Bologna. f Musee, Marseilles. 

I Liigh Court, Gal. of Mr. Miles. 

;ST. joiry. 163 

devotion, beam from his beautiful face and parted lips : 
behind him liovers the attendant eajrle, holdinc^ the pen 
in his beak ; near him is the chalice, with the serpent ; 
so that here he is in hi? dou!)le character of apostle 
and cvanirelist.* Domcnichino excelled in St. Jolins, 
as Guido in Magdalcnes ; perhaps the most beautiful 
of all is that in the Brera, at Alilan, where St. John 
bends on one knee at the foot of the throne of the 
Madonna and Child, his pen in one hand, the other 
pressed to his bosom, and looking up to them with an 
air of ecstatic inspiration. Two Httle angels, or ratiier 
amoreiti, are in attendance : one has his arms round 
tlie neck of the ca;:le, si)ortino: with it ; the other holds 
up the cup and the serpent. Every detail is com- 
posed and painted to admiration ; but this is the 
artistic and picturesque, not the religious, version of 
the subject. 

St. Jolm is frequently represented with St. Peter, 
because, after the ascension, thev taught and acted in 
concert. In such pictures, the contrast between the 
fierv resolve and sturdv, niLrixed grandeur which is 
given to St. Peter, and the retiTiemcnr, mildness, and 
personal grace of St. John, produces a fine ettect : as 
in Albert Diirer's picture,! where John is holding 
open the Gospel, and Peter ap]jarently reading it ; 
twcf grand and simple figures, tilling the mind as we 
gaze ui)on them. As this picture was painted afinr 
Albert Diirer became a Protestant, I have thought it 
possible that he might have had some particular mean- 
ing in thus making Peter study the Gospel of John. 
At all events, Albert Duver was quite capable of such 
an intention ; and, whether intended or not, the picture 
may be, and has l)een, thus interpreted. The prophets 
and the poets often say moi-e than they intended, for 
their lisrht was for others more than for themselves : so 
also the great painters, — the Rajjhaels and Albert Dii^ 
rers, — prophets and poets in their way. When I have 

* Petersburg, (Jal. of Prince Narishken. Eag. by Miiller. 
t Munich Gal. 


heard certain critics ridiculed because they found more 
ill the productions of a Shakespeare or a Kapliael tlian 
the poet or painter himself ever perceived or " in- 
tended," such ridicule has appeared to me in the hig-h- 
cst degree presumptuous and absurd. The true artist 
" feels that he is greater than he knows." In giving 
form or utterance to the soul -within him, does he ac- 
count to himself for all the world of thoughts his work 
will excite in the minds of others ? Is its significance 
to be circumscribed either by the intention and the 
knowledge of the ])oet, or the comprehension of the 
age in which he Lived ? That is the characteristic of 
the second-rate, self-conscious poets or painters, whom 
we read or study because they reflect to us a particular 
meaning, — a particular period, — but not of the Ho- 
mers and Shakespeares, the Raphaels and Albert Dii- 
I'crs ; they speak to all times, to all men, with a 
suggestive significance, widening, deepening with every 
successive generation ; and to measure their deptli of 
meaning by their own intention, or by the comprehen- 
sion of their own or any one generation, what is it but 
to measure the star of heaven by its apparent magni- 
tude ? — an inch rule will do that ! 

But to return from this digression. In devotional 
pictures we often see St. John the Evangelist and St. 
Johii the Baptist standing together ; or on each %ide 
of Christ, or of the Madonna and Child. There is a 
peculiar projjriety and significance in this companion- 
ship : both are, then, to be considered as prophets ; 
they were, besides, kinsmen, and bore the same name ; 
and St. John the Evangelist was the disciple of John 
the Baptist before he was called by Christ. Here, 
again, the contrast between the dark, emaciated, hairy 
prophet of the wilderness, and the graceful dignity of 
the youthful apostle, has a striking cfi^ect. An example 
at hand is the bronze bas-rclicf on the tomb of Henry 
VII.* ^Madonna pictures, in which the two St. Johns 
stand before her throne, occur frequently. I rcmera- 

* Westmin. Abbey, 

ST. J Oils. 165 

luT, also, a marble group of the Virgin and Child, in 
which the two St. Johns, as infants, arc playing at her 
feet, one with his eagle, the other with his reed cross.* 
As one who bore the most direct testimony to the 
Incarnation, St. John is often introduced into Madonna 
pictures, and pictures of the Nativity ; but in the later 
schools only. In these instances he points siguiticautly 
to the Cliild, and the sacramental cup and wafer is 
either in his hand or at his feet, or borne by an angel. 

The historical and dramatic subjects in which St. 
John figiy-cs as a principal personage are very numer- 
ous. As the Scriptural scenes belong properly to the 
life of Christ, I shall confine myself here to some ob- 
servations on the manner in which St. John is intro- 
duced and treated in such pictures. In general he is 
to be distinguished from the other apostles by his youth 
and beauty, and fiowing hair ; and by being pUiced 
nearest to Christ as the most beloved of his discij)les. 

" The mother of James and John imploring from 
our Saviour the highest place in heaven for her two 
sons" (iNIatt. xx. 21): a picture by Bonifazio, in 
the Borghese Gallery, beautiful both in sentiment and 
c(jIor. There is another example by Paul Veronese ; 
and another, by Tintoretto, was in the Coesvelt Gal- 
lerv. I must observe that, except in Venetian j)ic- 
turos, I have not met with this incident as a separate 

iw the last supper, Peter is generally on the right 
of Christ, and St. John on the left : he leans his head 
dowa on the bosom of Christ (this is always the atti- 
tude in the oldest pictures) ; or he leans towards Christ, 
wlio places his hand u]ion his shoulder, drawing him 
towards him with an expression of tenderness : this is 
the action in the fresco by Rapliael lately discovered at 
Florence. But I must reserve the full consideration 
of this subject for another place. 

Where, instead of the last supper, our Saviour is 

* Rome, S. Maria-sopra-Miuerra. 


represented as aflniinisterinG; the Eucliarist, St. John 
is seen on his ri^lit hand, bearing the cup. 

In the crucifixion, when treated as a religious rather 
than an historical subject, St. John stands on the left 
of tlie Cross, and tlie Virgin on the right ; both in 
attitudes of the profoundest grief and adoration min- 
gled. In general the motif oi this sacred subject does 
not vary; but I remember examples in whicli St. 
John is seen trampling a Jew under liis feet ; on the 
other side the Virgin tramples on a veiled woman, sig- 
nifying the old law, the synagogue, as opposed to the 
Christian Church, of which the Virgin was thg received 

When the crucifixion is a scene or action, not a mys- 
ierij, then St. John is beheld afor off, with the women 
who followed their divine Master to Calvary. 

St. John and the Virgin Mary returning from the 
crucifixion : he appears to be sustaining her slow and 
fainting steps. I have only once met vrixh this beau- 
tiful subject, in a picture by Zurbaran, in the Munich 

In the descent from the Cross, St. John is a chief 
actor ; he generally sustains the head of the Saviour, 
and is distinguished by an expression of extreme sor- 
row and tenderness. In the entombment lie is some- 
times one of the bearers, sometimes lie follows lament- 
ing. In a print of the entombment after Andrea 
Mantegna, he is not only weeping and wringing his 
hands as usual, but absolutely crying aloud with the 
most exaggerated expression of anguish. In pictures 
of the descent of tlie Holy Ghost, St. John is usually a 
consj)lcuous figure, and in the foreground. In the as- 
sumption of the Virgin, he is also conspicuous, gener- 
ally in front, as the pendant to St. Peter, and gazing 
upwards with ecstatic faith and devotion. 

Of course there is great variety in these represen- 
tations : the later painters thought less of individual 
character and significant propriety of arrangement than 
of artistic grouping ; therefore the above remarks have 
reference to the early painters only. 

ST. jonx. 167 

In the scenes taken from the Acts, St. Jolin is al- 
ways in co:n]iani()nship with St. Peter, and becomes 
tiie secondary ti<rure. 

St. John writini^ his Revelations in the Island of 
Patmos is a snhject which tVeiinently occurs in ^ISS. 
of the Apocalypse, and in the chapels dedicated to St. 
John. The motif is generally the same in all ; wc 
have a desert island, with the sea in the distance, or 
flowing round it ; St. Jo!ni, seated on a rock or under 
a tree, is in the act of writing ; or he is looking up to 
heaven, where the " Woman crowned witli stars," or 
" the Woman fleeing from the dragon," appears as in 
his vision.* (Rev. xii.) Or he heholds St. Midiael, 
armed, cast down the dragon in human form ; lie has 
the eagle and book, and looks up at the Virgin, as in 
a picture by Ambrogio Figino.t The eagle is always 
in attendance as the symbol of inspiration in a general 
sense ; wiien represented with a diadem, or glory, as 
in some very early examples, it is a symbol of the 
Holy Ghost, which, among the Jews, was figured by 
the eagle. 

The subjects from the legendary life of St. John arc 
exceedinirlv interesting, but thev arc not easilv recog- 
nized, and require particular attention ; some are of 
frequent occurrence, others rarely met with. 

1. Israel v. Meckencn. St. John instructing his 
disciples at Ephesus. (Acts iv. 37.) Tlie scene is 
the interior of a Gothic church, the windows painted 
with heraldic emblazonments : St. John is seated ex- 
pounding the Scriptures, and five disciples sit opi)Osite 
to him with coarse, ugly faces, but most intent, expres- 
sive countenances ; in the background, a large chest 
full of money. 

2. Vatican, Chr. Mus. St. John drinking from the 
poisoned chalice; a man falls down dead at his feet, 
several figures look on with awe and astonishnicnt : 
this is a frequent subject in the elder schools of art, 
and in the illuminated MSS. of the Gospel and Apoc. 

* V. " Legends of the Madonaa." f Erera, Milan. 


alypse : but I have never met with a representation 
later than the beginning of the fourteenth century.* 

3. It is related by Clement of Alexandria, that when 
St. John was at Epbesus, and before he was exiled to 
Patmos, he had taken to" his care a young man of 
])romising qualities of person and mind. Dui'ing his 
absence he left him under the spiritual guidance of a 
certain bishop ; but, afcer a while, the youth took to 
evil courses, and, proceeding from one excess to an- 
other, he at length became the leader of a band of 
robbers and assassins, who struck terror into the whole 
country. AVhen St. John returned to Ephesus, he 
went to the bishop and demanded " the precious de- 
posit he had left in his hands." At first the pi'iest did 
not understand him ; but when St. John explained tlie 
allusion to his adopted son, he cast down his eyes Avith 
sorrow and shame, and told of what had befallen. 
Then St. John rent his garments, and wept with a 
loud voice, and cried out, '■' Alas ! alas ! to what a 
guardian have I trusted our brother ! " And he called 
for a horse and rode towards the forest in which the 
robbers sojourned ; and when th.e captain of the rob- 
bers beheld his old master and instructor, he turned 
and would have fled from his presence ; but St. John, 
by the most fervent entreaties, prevailed on him to 
stop and listen to his words. After some conference, 
the robber, utterly subdued, burst into tears of peni- 
tence, imploring forgiveness ; and while he spoke, he 
hid beneath his robe his right hand, which had been 
sullied with so many crimes ; but St. John, falUng on 
his knees before him, seized that blood-polluted hand, 
and kissed it, and bathed it with his tears ; and he 
remained with Ins re-convei"ted brother till he had, by 
prayers and encouraging words and aliectiouate ex- 

* We find among the relics exhibited on great occasions in the 
church of the S. Croce at Rome "the cup in which St. John, the 
apostle and evangelist, by command of Domitian the emperor, 
drank poison without receiving any injurj- ; which afterwards 
being tasted by his attendants, on tlie instant they fell duad." 

ST. JO FIX. 169 

hortations, reconciled him with Heaven and with him- 

This beautiful le:J:cnd is the subject of some old en- 
gravinirs, in which St. John is represented embracing 
the robber, who is weeping on his neck, having flung 
away his weapons. It has been, however, too rarely- 
treated ; I have never met with a picture of the sub- 
ject ; and yet it abounds in picturesque capabilities : 
the forest l)ackground, — the contrast of youth and age, 
— bright armor, flowing drapery, and the most strik- 
ing and affecting moral, are here all combined. 

4. Another very pretty apologue relating to St. John 
is sometimes included in a series of sul)jects from his 
life. Two young men, who had sold all their posses- 
sions to follow him, afterwards repented. He, perceiv- 
ing their thoughts, sent them to gather pebbles and 
fiigots, and, on their return, changed these into money 
and ingots of gold, saying to them, " Take back your 
riclies and enjoy them on earth, as you regret having 
exchanged them for heaven ! " This story is repre- 
sented on one of the windows of tlic Cathedral at 
Bourges. The two young men stand before St. John, 
with a heap of gold on one side, and a heap of stones 
and fagots on the other. 

5. When St. John liad sojourned in the island of 
Patmos a year and a day, he returned to his church at 
Ephesus ; and as he approached the city, being re- 
ceived with great joy by the inhabitants, lo ! a funeral 
procession came fortii from the gates ; and of those 
who followed weeping he inquired " who was dead ? " 
Tiiey said " Urusiana." Now when he heard that 
name he was sad, for Drusiana had excelled in all 
good works, and he had formerly dwelt in her house ; 
and he ordered them to set down the bier, and having 
prayed earnestly, God was pleased to restore Drusiana 
io life ; she arose up, and the apostle went home with 
her and dwelt in lier house. 

This incident is the subject of a fine fresco, painted 
by Fiiippo Lippi, on the left-hand wall of the Strozzi 


Chapel at Florence. It has the forcible expression and 
dramatic spirit of the painter, witli that characteristic 
want of elevated fcelino: in the countenances and in the 
general treatment wiiich is apparent in all his works : 
the group in one corner, of a child starting from a dog, 
is admired for its truth ; but, by disturbing the solem- 
nity of the marvellous scene, it repels like a falsehood. 

6. There is another beantiful and picturesque legend 
relating to St. John, of which I have never seen any 
representation ; but it may, possildy, have occasioned 
the frequent introduction of a partridge into the pictures 
of sacred subjects, particularly in the Venetian School. 
St. John had a tame partridge, which he cherished 
much ; and he amused himself with feeding and tend- 
ing it. " A certain huntsman, passing by with his 
bow and arrows, was astonished to see the great apostle, 
so venerable for his age and sanctity, engaged in such 
an amusement. The apostle asked him if he always 
kept his bow bent ? He answered, that would be the 
way to render it useless. ' If,' replied St. John, ' you 
unbend your bow to prevent its being useless, so do I 
thus nnliend my mind for the same reason.' " 

7. Tlic subject entitled the Martyrdom of St. John 
represents his immersion in a caldron of boiling oil, 
by order of the Emperor Domitian. xVccording to the 
received tradition, this event took place outside the 
Latin gate at Rome ; and on the spot stands the chapel 
of San Giovanni in Olio, commemorating his miracu- 
lous deliverance, which is painted in fresco on the walls. 
The subject forms, of course, one of a series of the life 
of St. John, and is occasionally met with in old prints 
and pictures ; but it is uncommon. The treatment 
affords little variety ; in Albert Dilrer's famous wood- 
cut, St. John is sitting in a pot of boiling oil ; one 
executioner is blowing the fire, another is pouring oil 
from a ladle on the saint's head ; a judge, probalrly in- 
tended for Domitian, is seated on a tin-one to tlie left, 
and there are numerous si>ectators. Padovanino painted 
this subject for the San Pictro at Venice ; Rubens, with 

ST. JOHN. 171 

horriMo truth of djtail, for the altar-piece of St. John 
at Malines. 

It is tlie martyrdom in the boiling oil wliieh gives 
St. John the right to bear the pahu, with which he is 
occasionally seen. 

8. St. John, habited in priest's garments, descends 
the steps of an altar into an open grave, in whi;"]i he 
lays himself down, not in death, but in sleep, until the 
coming of Christ; "being reserved alive with Enoch 
and Elijah (who also knew not death), to preach 
a<rainst the Anticin'ist in the last davs." This fanciful 
legend is foumled on the following text : " Peter, see- 
ing the disciple whom Jesus U)ved following, saith unto 
Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do ? Jesus saiih 
unto him. If I will that he tariy till I come, wliat is 
that to thee ? Then went this saying altroad among 
the brethren that that disciple should not die." (John 
xxi. 21, 22.) 

The legend which supposes St. John reserved alive 
has not been generally received in the Church, and as 
a subject of painting it is very uncommon. It occurs 
in the ^[enologium Gnecum,* where the grave into 
which St. John descends is, according to the legend, 
"fossa in cnicis Jifjurani " (in the form of a cross). In 
a series of the deaths of the apostles,! St. John is as- 
cending from the grave ; for, according to the Greek 
legend, St. John died without pain or change, and im- 
mediately rose again in bodily form, and ascended into 
heaven to rejoin Christ and the Virgin. 

In a small and very curious i)icture which I saw at 
Rome, I forming part of a Predella, there is a tonib 
something like the Xanthian tombs in form : one end 
is open ; St. John, with a long gray beard, is seen 
issuing from it, and, as he ascends, he is met by Christ, 
the Virgin, St. Peter, and St. Paul, w-ho arq descending 
from above ; while tigures below look up with astonish- 

* Vatican MSS., tenth century. 

t MSS., ninth century, Paris Nat Library. 

{ Vatican, Christian Museum 


ment. On the ancient doors of Sau Paolo he is lying 
in aa open grave or sarcophagus. 

Of the miracles performed by John after his death, 
two are singularly interesting in the history of art ; 
both have been treated in sculpture. 

9. AVhen the Empress Galla Placidia was returning 
from Constantinople to Ravenna with her two children 
(a. d. 425) she encountered a terrible storm. In her 
fear and anguish she vowed a vow to St. Jolm the 
Evangelist, and, being landed in safety, she dedicated 
to his honor a magnificent church. When the edifice 
was finished, she was extremely desirous of procuring 
some relics of the Evangelist, wherewith to consecrate 
his sanctuary ; but as it was not the manner of those 
days to exhume, and buy and sell, still less to steal, the 
bodies of holy men and martyrs, the desire of the pious 
empress remained unsatisfied. However, as it is re- 
lated, St. John himself took pity upon her ; for one 
niglit, as she prayed earnestly, lie appeared to her in a 
vision ; and Avhen slie threw herself at his feet to em- 
brace and kiss them, he disappeared, leaving one of his 
slippers or sandals in her hand, which sandal was long 

The antique church of Galla Placidia still exists at 
Eavenna, to keep alive, after the lapse of fourteen cen- 
turies, the memory of her dream, and of the condescen- 
sion of the blessed apostle. Kot much of the original 
building is left ; the superb mosaics have all disap- 
peared, except a few fragments, in which may be 
traced the storm at sea, and Galla Placidia making 
her vow. Over the principal porch, which is of white 
marl^ile, in the Lombard style, and richly and elegantly 
ornamented, the miracle of the slipper is represented in 
two bas-reliefs, one above the other. The lower com- 
partment, or lunette, represents a tabernacle, and with- 
in it an altar : St. Jolm the Evangelist is seen offering 
incense ; on the other side is Barbation, the confessor 
of the empress ; she, prostrate at the feet of the apostle, 

ST. JO [IX. 1 7 3 

seems to take off his sandal : on each side are six hov- 
erin<j" angels bearing the implements of the mass. In 
the upper compartment, Galla Flacidia is seen kneeling 
at the feet of Christ, and otfcriiig to him the sacred 
sandal, while the evangelist stands on one side, and 
Barbation on the other. These bas-reliefs arc not 
older than the twelfth century, and are in excellent 
preservation : I should suppose, from the style of the 
grouping, that they were copied, or imitated, from the 
older mosaics, once in the interior of the church. 

10. Tlie other miracle has the rare interest of being 
English in its origin and in its representation. " King 
Edward tlie Confessor had, after Clirist and the Virgin 
iNlary, a special veneration for St. John the Evangelist. 
One day, reruriiiug from his chmrh at Westminster, 
where he iial been hearing mass in honor of the evan- 
gelist, he was accosted l\v a pilgrim, who asked of him 
an alms for the love of God and St. John. Tlie king, 
who was ever merciful to the poor, immediately drew 
from his finger a ring, and, unknown to any one, de- 
livered it to the beggar. When the king had reigned 
twenty-four years, it came to pass that two English- 
men, pilgrims, returning from tiie Holy Land to their 
own country, were met by one in the habit of a pilgrimj 
who asked of them concerning their countiy ; and be- 
ing told tliey were of P^ngland, he said to them, ' When 
ye s!ia!l have arrived in your own country, go to King 
Edward, and salute him in my name ; say, to him, that 
I tliank him for the alms which he bestowed on me in 
a certain street in Westminster ; for there, on a certain 
dav, as I begged of him an alms, he bestowed on me 
this ring, which till now I have preserved, and ye shall 
carry it back to him, saying that in six months from 
this time he shall c^uit the world, and come and remain 
wlt'.i me forever.' And the pilgrims, being astounded, 
said, ' Who art thou, and where is thy dwelling-place ? ' 
And he answered, saying, ' I am John the Evangelist. 
Edward your king is my friend, and for the sanctity 
of his life I hold him dear. Go now, therefore, deliver 


to iiiin this message and this ring, and I will pray to 
God that ve luav arrive safolv iu voiir own countrv.' 
AVheu St. John had spoken thus, lie delivered to them 
the ring, and vanished out of their &iglit. The pilgrims, 
praising and thanking the Lord for this glorious vision, 
went on tiieir journey ; and being arrived in Englanrl, 
they rejiaired to King Edward, and saluted liim, and 
delivered the ring and the message, relating all truly. 
And the king received the news jo}"fully, and feasted 
the messengers royally. Then he set himself to pre- 
pare for his departure from this world. On the eve of 
the ^Nativity, in the year of our Lord 1066, he fell sick, 
and on the eve of the Epijdiany following he died. 
The ring he gave to the Abbot of T\'estminster, to be 
forever preserved among the relics there." * 

According to one account,! the pilgrims met the 
king near his palace at AValtham, at a place since 
called Havering. The writer adds, " In allusion to 
this story. King Edward II. otfcred at his coronation a 
pound of gold made in the figure of a king holding a 
ring, and a mark of gold (8 oz.) made like to a pilgrim 
putting forth his liand to receive the ring." These 
must have been two little statuettes of gold. 

The legend of King Edward and St. John the Evan- 
gelist is represented, with other legends of the same 
monarch, along the top of the screen of Edward the 
Confessor's chapel. It is in three compartments. The 
first represents King Edward bestowing the ring on St. 
John in the disguise of a pilgrim ; Westminster Abbey 
is seen behind. The second shows us the meeting of 
the pilgrims and St. John in Palestine ; he holds what 
seems a jialm. In the third the pilgrims deliver the 
ring to King Edward, who is seated at table. The 
sculpture is very rude ; the figures disproportioned and 
unirraceful. They arc supposed to be of the time of 
Henry VI. 

* Johannis Brompton Cronicon, 955. 
t Dart's iliau of Westmiuster. 

ST. JOHN. 175 

T!ic same Icjj^cnd was painted on ono of the windows 
of Uotnfonl eliiuTh, in Essex, but whether it still exists 
there I know not.* 

Before I quit tlie subject of the Evangelists, it is 
worth while to observe that, in Greek Art, not only 
the Four Evangelists, but the six writers of the Acts 
and Ejjistle.s, are considered as a sacred series. In an 
ancient and beiiutil'ul ]\IS. of the EpistoliE Canoniche, 
presented I)y tlie Queen of Cyprus to Pojie Innocent 
VIII., they arc thus represented, two and two to- 
gether : — 

St. Luke, with a very thoughtful, earnest, counte- 
nance, holds a scroll, on which is written in Greek the 
cuminenceinent of the Acts, " The former treatise have 
I made, O Theophilus," &c. ; and St. James, with a 
long, very earnest, and refined face, holds a single roil. 

St. Peter, with a broad, coarse, powerful physiog- 
nomy, strongly characterized, liolds two rolls ; and St. 
John, with a long and very refined face, gray hair and 
beard, holds three rolls. 

St. Jude, with a long white beard and very aquiline 
nose, holds one roll. St. Paul, bald in front, with long 
brown hair and beard, and a refined face, bears many 
rolls tied up togetlier. 

All the figures arc on a gold ground, about six 
inches in height, very finely conceived, though, as is 
usual in Byzantine art, formal and mechanical in ex- 
ecution. They look like small copies of very grand 
originals. The draperies are all classical ; a pale 
violet or brown tunic and a Avhite mantle, as in the old 
mosaics ; the rolls in their hands corresponding with 
the number of their writings. 

* V. Legend of St. Edward the Confessor ia the " Legends of th« 
Monastic Orders." 


^^vfi^sr^: EXT to those who recorded the -^-ord of God 
- -^^Tf>.J yj^TQYe those called by Christ to the task of 

diffusing his doctrine, and sent to preach the 
kingdom of heaven ''through all nations." 
The earliest representations of the Twelve Apostles 
appear to liavc been, like those of the Four Evange- 
lists, purely emblematical : they were figured as twelve 
sheep, with Christ in the midst, as the Good Shepherd 
bearing a lamb in his arms ; or, much more frequently, 
Christ is himself the Lamb of God, raised on an emi- 
nence and crowned with a cruciform nimbus, and the 
ajwstles Avere ranged on each side, as sheep. Instances 
are to be met with in the old Christian bas-reliefs. In 
the old Roman churches* we find this representation 
but little varied, and the situation is always the same. 
In the centre is the lamb standing on an eminence, fronj 
which flow the four rivers of Paradise ; on one side six 
sheep issuing from the city of Jerusalem, on the other 
six sheep issuing from the city of Bethlehem, the whole 
disposed in a line forming a sort of frieze, just below 
the decoration of the vault of the apsis. The church 
of S. M. Maggiore exhibits the only exception I have 
met with ; there we find a group of sheep, entering, not 
issuing from, the gates of Jerusalem and Bethlehem : 

* Rome. S. M. in Trastevere. 

S. Prassede. S. Clemente. S. 



in tliis case, however, tlie sheep may represent believers, 
or disciples in general, not the twelve apostles. Upon 
the great crucifix in the apsis of Sun Clemente, at 
Eome, are twelve doves, which appear to signify the 
twelve apostles. 

The next step was to represent the apostles as twelve 
men all alike, each with a sheep, and Christ in the mid- 
dle, also with a sheep, sometimes larger than the others. 
We find this on some of the sarcophagi.* Again, a 
little later, we have them represented as twelve vener- 
able men, bearing tablets or scrolls in their hands, no 
emblems to distinguish one from another, but their 
names inscribed over or beside each. They are thus 
represented in relief on several ancient sarcophagi now 
in the Christian Musenm in the Vatican, and in several 
of the most ancient churches at Rome and Ravenna, 
ranged on each side of the Saviour in the A-ault of the 
apsis, or standing in a line beneath. 

But while in the ancient Greek types, and the old 
mosaics, the attributes are omitted, they adhere almost 
invariably to a certain characteristic individual repre- 
sentation, which in the later ages of painting was wholly 
lost, or at least neglected. In these eldest types, St. 
Peter has a broad face, white hair, and short white 
beard ; St. Paul, a long face, high bold forehead, dark 
hair and beard ; St. Andrew is aged, with flowing w^liite 
hair and beard ; St. John, St. Thomas, St. Philip, 
young and beardless ; St. James Major and St. James 
Minor, in the prime of life, short brown hair and 
beard ; both should l^ear a resemblance more or less to 
the Saviour, but St. James Minor particularly : St. 
Matthew, St. Jude, St. Simon, St. Matthias, aged, with 
white hair. The tablets or scrolls which they carry in 
their hands bear, or are supposed to bear, the articles 
of tlie Creed. It is a tradition that, before the apostles 
dispersed to preach the Gospel in all lands, they assem- 
bled to compose the declaration of faith since called the 

* Bottari, Tab. xxviii. 


Apostles' Creed, and that each of them furnislied one 
of the twelve propositions contained in it, in the fol- 
lowing order : — St. Peter : Credo in Deum Patrem om- 
nipotentem, creatorem caii et feme. St. Andrew : Et in 
Jesuin Christum FUiinn ejus unicum, Dominum nostrum. 
St. James Major : Qui conceptus est de Spiritu Sando, 
natus ex Maria Virgine. St. Jolm : Passus sub Pontio 
Pilato, crucifixus, mortuus et sepuJtus. St. Philip : De- 
scendit ad inferos, tertia die resurrexit a mortuis. St. 
James Minor : Ascendit ad ccelos, sedet ad dexteram Dei 
Patris omnipotentis. St. Thomas : Tnde ventia-us est ju- 
dicare vivos et mortuos. St. Bartholomew : Credo in 
Spiritum Sanctum. St. Matthew: Sanctam Ecclesiam 
Catliolicam ; sanctorum communionem. St. Simon : Re- 
missionem pecatorum. St. Matthias : Carnis resurrectio- 
nem. St. Thaddeus : Et vitam mternam. 

The statues of the apostles on the shrine of the Vir- 
gin in the San Michelc at Florence exhibit a fine ex- 
am^jle of this arrangement. 

In later times, the Apostles, instead of being disposed 
in a line, are grou])ed round the Saviour in glory, or 
they form a circle of heads in medallions : as statues, 
they ornament the screen in front of the altar, or they 
are placed in a line on each side of the nave, standing 
against the pillars which support it. From the sixth 
century it became usual to distinguish each of them by 
a particular emblem or attribute borrowed from some 
circumstance of his life or death. Thus, taking them 
in order, according to the canon of the mass, — 

St. Peter bears the keys or a fish. 

St. Paul, the sword : sometimes two swords. 

St. Andrew, the transverse cross. 

St. James Major, the pilgrim's staff. 

St. John, the chalice with the serpent ; sometimes 
the eagle also : but the eagle, as I have observed, be- 
longs to him properly only in his character of Evan- 

St. Thomas, a builder's rule : also, but more seldom, 
a spear. 



St. James Minor, a club. 

St. Philip, the staff or crosier, surmounted by a 
cross ; or a small cross in his hand. 

St. Bartholomew, a large knife. 

St. Matthew, a purse. 

St. Simon, a saw. 

St. Thaddeus (or Jude), a halberd or lance. 

St. Matthias, a lance. 

The origin and meaning of these attributes will be 
explained presently : meantime it must be borne in 
mind that, although in sacred art the apostles are al- 
ways twelve in number, they arc not always the same 
personages. St. Jude is I'requently omitted to make 
room for St. Paul. Sometimes, in the most ancient 
churches (as in the Cathedral of Palermo), St. Simon 
and St. Matthias are omitted, and the Evangelists St. 
Mark and St. Luke ligure in their places. The Byzan- 
tine manual jmblished by Didron omits James Minor, 
Jude, and Matthias ; and inserts Paul, Luke, and Mark. 
This was tlie arrangement on the bronze doors of San 
Paolo-fuori-lc-Mura at Rome, executed by Byzantine 
artists in the tentli century, and now destroyed. 

On an ancient pulpit, of beautiful workmanship, in 
the Cathedral of Troyes, the arrangement is according 
to the Greek formula.* Thus, — 


- ■z zi . ■-• 

:3 ^ -- 5) 
S 5h S i 

m zn :/i 'A 






s- «• - i 

ii -^ "2 § 
3 - .s 






5-1 ^J <J H 

- J 

aa P3 Hs 1-3 



ai zf'i zA m 


zrl :/L aii A 


Here, John the Baptist figures in his chai'acter of angel 
or messenger ; and St. Paul, St. Mark, and St. Luke 
take the place of St. James Minor, St. Jude, and St. 

* The churches in the eastern provinces of France, particularly 
in Champagne, exhibit marked traces of the influence of Greek 
art in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. 


The earliest instance of the Apostles enterinoj into a 
scheme of ecclesiastical decoration, as the consecrated 
and dcle.o;ated teachers of a revealed rehgion, occurs in 
the church of San Giovanni in Fontc at Ravenna.* In 
the centre of the dome is the Baptism of Christ, repre- 
sented quite in the classical style ; the fitrure of the 
Saviour being entirely undraped, and the Jordan, sig- 
nified by an antique river god, sedge-crowned, and 
bearing a linen napkin as though he were an attendant 
at a bath. Around, in a circle, in the manner of radii, 
are the twelve ai)Ostles. The order is, — Peter, An- 
drew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew^, Simon, Jude, 
James Minor, Matthew, Thomas, Paul ; so that Peter 
and Paul stand face to face at one extremity of the 
circle, and Simon and Bartholomew back to back at the 
other. All wear jjointed caps, and carry the oblation 
in their hands. Peter has a yellow vest and white 
mantle ; Paul, a Avhite vest and a yellow mantle, and 
so all round alternately. The name of each is inscribed 
over his head, and without the title Sanctus, which, 
though admitted into the Calendar in 449, was not 
adopted in works of art till some years later, about 472. 

In the next instance, the attributes had not yet 
been admitted, except in the figures of St. Peter and 
St. Paul. 

Mosaic (a. d. 816). Christ, in the centre, stands 
on an eminence ; in one hand he holds an open book, 
on which is inscribed Pax vohis. St. Peter, with the 
keys and a cross, stands on the right ; and Christ, 
Avith his right hand points to the cross. St. Paul is on 
the left, with his sword ; beyond, there are five apostles 
on one side, and four on the other : in all eleven 
(Juilas being properly omitted). Each holds a book, 
and all are robed in wliite ; underneath the wliole is 
inscribed, in Latin, the words of our Saviour, " Go ye, 
and teach all nations." On the arch to the right, 
Christ is seated on a throne, and presents the keys to 
St. Peter, who kneels on one side, and the standard to 

* A. D. 451. Ciampini, Yet. Mon. p. 1, c. iv. 


Constantino, who kneels on the other (alluding, of 
course, to the famous standard). On the arch to the 
left, St. Peter is throned, and presents the stole to Pope 
Leo III., and the standard to Cliarlemagnc. Tliis 
sin.i^ular monument, a kind of re'sume of the power of 
the Church, is a restoration of tlie old mosaic, executed 
by order of Leo III. in the Triclinium of the old pal- 
ace of the Lateran, and now on one side of the Scala 
Santa, the side faciui; the Porta San Giovanni. 

Mosaic, in the old hasilica of St. Paul (a. d. 1206), 
In the centre an altar veiled, on which are the Gospels 
(or perhaps, rather, the Boole of Life, the seven-sealed 
book in the Revelations) and tlie instruments of the 
Pitssion. Behind it rises a large Greek cross, adorned 
with gold and jewels. Underneath, at the foot of tlie 
altar, five small figures standing and bearing palms, 
representing those who suffered for the cause of CIn-ist ; 
and on each side, kneeling, the monk Aginulph, and 
Giovanni Gaetano Orsini, afterwards Nicholas III. 
On each side of the altar, a majestic angel : one bears 
a scroll, inicril)ed Gloria ix excelsis Deo; the 
other, Et ix terra pax homixibcs box.e volunta- 
tis. B.\v6nd these the apostles, six on eacli side, bear- 
ing scrolls with the articles of the Creed. They are 
much alike, all in white robes, and alternately with 
each stands a palm-tree, the symbol of victory and 
resurrection. This composition, of a colossal size, 
formed a kind of frieze (taking the place of tlie era- 
ble;natical lamb and twelve sheep) round the apsis of 
the Basilica. 

In sculpture, the Apostles, as a series, entered into 
all decorative ecclesiastical architecture : sometimes on 
the exterior of the edifice, always in the interior. In 
our English cathedrals they are seldom found unmuti- 
lared, except when out of the reach of the spoiler ; such 
was the indiscriminate rage which confounded the ven- 
erable effigies of these delegated teachers of the truth 
with the images which Avere supposed to belong exclu- 
sively to the repudiated religion ! 


Where the scheme of decoration is purely theologi- 
cal, the proper place of the Apostles is after tile Aiigels, 
Prophets, aad Evangelists ; but when the motif, or 
leading idea, implies a special signification, such as the 
Last Judgment, Paradise, the Coronation of the iSIa- 
donna, or the apotheosis of a saint, then the order is 
changed, and the apostles appear immediately after the 
Divine Personages and before the angels, as forming a 
part of the council or court of heaven; — "When the 
Son of Man shall come in his glory, ye also shall sit 
on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel."* 
Such is the an-angement in the Carapo Santo, in An- 
gelico's Paradiso in the Florence Gallery, in Raphael's 
Disputa, and many other instances : and I may add 
the architectural treatment on the fa9ade of Wells Ca- 
thedral, where, immediately under the Saviour sitting 
in judgment, stand the twelve apostles, and beneath 
them the hierarchy of angels, each of the nine choirs 
being here expressed by a single angel. t Therefore to 
determine the proper place of the Apostles, it is neces- 
sarv to observe well and to understand what has been the 
design of the artist, and the leading idea of the whole 
composition, whether strictly tluological or partly scenic. 
In all monuments which have a sulcmn or a sacred 
purpose, — altars, pulpits, tombs, — the Apostles find 
an appropriate place, either in connection with otlier 
sacred personages, or as a company apart, — the band 
of teachers. The range of statues along the top of 
the screen in front of the choir of St. Mark's at Yen- 
ice will be remembered by all who.haA'e seen them : in 
the centre stand the Virgin and St. Mark, and then the 
Apostles, six on each side, grand, solemn figures, stand- 
ing there as if to guard the sanctuary. These are by 
Jacobelli, in the simple religious style of the fifteenth 
century, but quite Italian. In contrast with them,, as 

* Matt, xix, 28 •, and Luke xxii. 30. 

t I must refer the reader to Mr. Cockerell's illustrations and 
restorations of the rich and multifarious and significant sculpture 
of Wells Cathedral. 


the finest example of German sculptm-al treatment, we 
have the ll\eU'e apostles on the tomh of St. ScbaUl, in 
his church at Xiirenibero:, cast in bronze by Peter Vis- 
cher (about 1500). These have become well known by 
the casts wliich have lately been brou<!:ht to Enuland ; 
thev are about two feet hifrh, all i-emarkable for the 
characteristic expression of the heads, and the grand 
simplicity of the attitudes and draperies. 

There arc instances of the Apostles introduced into 
a scheme of ecclesiastical decoration as devotional fiix- 
iires, but assumin.rr, fi'om the style of treatment and 
from being placed in relation with other personages, a 
touch of the dramatic and picturesque. Such are 
Correggio's Apostles in the cupola of the duomo at 
Parma (15.32), which may be considered as the most 
striking instance that could be produced of studied con- 
trast to the solemnity and simplicity of the ancient 
treatment: here the mo^//' is essentially (/mz/u/^/c. They 
stand round the dome as spectators would stand in a 
gallery or balcony, all in picturesque attitudes, studi- 
ously varied (some, it must be confessed, rather extrav- 
agant), and all looking up with amazement, or hope, 
or joy, or adoration, to the figure of the glorified Vir- 
gin ascending into heaven. 

Another scries of Apostles in the San Giovanni at 
Parma, which Correggio had painted earlier (1522), 
ai'e conceived, I think, in a finer spirit as to character, 
but, perhaps, not more appropriate to the scene. Here 
the twelve apostles are seated on clouds round the glo- 
rified Saviour, as they are supposed to be in heaven : 
they are but partially draped. In the heads but little 
attention has been paid to the ancient types, except in 
those of St. Peter and St. Paul ; but they are sublime 
as well as picturesque in the conception of character 
and expression. 

The Apostles in Michael Angelo's Last Judgment 
(a. d. 1540) exhibit a still further deviation from the 
antique style of treatment. They stand on each side 
of the Saviour, who is not, hei-e, Saviour and Redeem- 


er, but inexorable Judge. They are grandly and arti- 
ficially grouped, all without any drapery whatever, and 
with forms and attitudes which recall an assemblage of 
Titans holding a council of war, rather than tlie glori- 
fied companions of Christ. In early pictures of Christ 
in glory, the apostles, his companions in heaven as on 
earth, form, with tlic patriarchs and prophets, the celes- 
tial court or council : they sit u]jon thrones to the right 
and to the left.* Eaphael's "Disputa" in the Vatican 
is a grand example of this arrangement. 

Sets of the Apostles in devotional pictures and 
prints are so common, that I shall particularize only a 
few among the most interesting and celebrated. En- 
gravings of these can easily be I'eferred to. 

1. A set by Eaphacl, engraved by Marc Antonio: 
grand, graceful figures, and each with liis appropriate 
attrii)ute. Though admirably distinguished in form 
and bearing, very little attention has been paid to the 
ancient types, except perhaps in St. Peter and St. 
John. Here St. James Minor is omitted to make 
room for St. Paul. 

2. A set by Lucas van Leyden, smaller than Ra- 
phael's, but magnificent in feeling : here also the an- 
cient types are for the most part neglected. These 
two sets should be compared as perfect examples of 
the best Italian and the most characteristic German 
manner. Some of the German sets are very curious 
and grotesque. 

3. By H. S. Beham, a most curious set in what 
may be called the ultra German style : they stand two 
and two together, like a procession of old beggars ; the 
workmanship exquisite. Another set by Beham, in 
which the figures stand singly, and which includes the 
Four Evangelists, dressed like old burgomasters, with 
the emblematical wings, has been already mentioned. 

4. A set by Parmigiano, graceful and mannered, as 
is usual with liim. 

5. By Agostino Caracci. This set, famous as works 

* Luke xxii. 30. 


of art, must, when compared with those of Eaphael 
and Lucas van Leyden, be pronounced absolutely vul- 
gar. Here St. John is drinking out of his cup, — an 
idea which might strike sonic people as picturesfiuc ; 
but it is in vile taste. Tliaddeus has a saw as well as 
Simon ; Peter ha.s tiie papal tiara at his feet ; St. James 
Minor, instead of Thomas, carries the builder's rule ; 
and St Bartholomew has his skin thrown over his 
shoulders. This set is an example of the confusion 
which prevailed with respect to tlie old religious types 
and attributes, after the first half of the sixteenth 

6. '' The Five Disciples," by Albert Diirer, seera 
intended to form part of a complete set. "We have St. 
Paul, St. Bartholomew, St. Thomas, St. Philip, and 
St. Simon. The two last are the finest, and arc most 
grandly conceived. 

These are examples of the simplest devotional treat- 

"When the Apostles are grouped together in varions 
historical scenes, — some Scriptural, some legendary, 
— they are more interesting as individual personages ; 
and the treatment should be more characteristic. Sorao 
of these subjects belong properly to the life of Christ : 
as the Delivery of the Keys to Peter ; the Transfigura- 
tion ; the Entry into Jerusalem ; the Last Supper ; the 
Ascension. Others, as the Death and Assumption of 
the Virgin, will be considered in the legends of the 
Madonna. But there are others, again, which refer 
more particularly to the personal history of the Apos- 
tles, as related in tiie Acts and in the Legends. 

The Descent of the Holy Ghost was the first and 
most important event after the Ascension of Christ. 
It is thus descri'>ed : " When the day of Pentecost 
was fully come, tliey were all wiili oiu a -cord in one 
place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, 
as of a rushing, mighty wind, and it filled all the house 
where thev were sitting. And there appeared unto 


thera cloven tongues, like as of fire, and sat upon each 
of them, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, 
and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit 
gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at 
Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation 
under heaven. Kow when this was noised abroad the 
multitude came together, and were confounded, because 
that every man heard them speak in his own language. 
. . . But this is that which was spoken by the prophet 
Joel." (Acts u. 1-12, 16.) 

According to the usual interpretation, the word they, 
in the first verse, does not signify the apostles merely, 
but with them, " the women, and Mary the mother of 
Jesus, and his brethren " ; hence in so many represen- 
tations of this subject the Virgin is not only present, 
but a principal person : Mary Magdalene and others 
are also frequently inti'oduced. 

1. The most striking example I have yet met vnxh 
is the grand mosaic in the principal dome of St. Mark's 
at ^^enice. In the apex of the dome is seen the Celes- 
tial Dove in a glory of light ; rays proceed from the 
centre on every side, and fall on the heads of the Virgin 
and the twelve apostles, seated in a circle. Lower 
down is a series of twelve figures standing all round 
the dome : "Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, the dwell- 
ers in Mesopotamia, Judiea, Cappadocio, Poutvts, Asia, 
Phrygia, Pamphylia, Cretes, and Araliians," — each 
nation represented by one person, and all in strange 
dresses, and looking up with amazement. 

2. The Twelve Apostles and the Virgin are seen 
above seated in an enclosure ; tongues of fire descend 
from Heaven ; beneath is a closed door, at which sev- 
eral persons in strange foreign dresses, with turbans, 
&c., are listening with amazement. One of these is in 
the Chinese costume, — a curious circumstance, consid- 
ering the age of the picture, and which could have oc- 
curred at that date nowhere but at Venice.* 

3. In the interior of a temple, sustained by slender 

* Tenice Acad., fourteenth century. 


pillars, tho Twelve Apostles are seated in a circle, and 
iii tiio midst the Vir>:in, tongncs of lire ou each head. 
Here the Virgin is the principal person.* 

4. An interior, the Twelve Apostles seated in a cir- 
cle ; above them, the Celestial Dove in a glory, and 
from his beak proceed twelve tongues of flame ; undcr- 
neatii, in a small arch, is the pi'ophet Joel, as an old 
man crowned with a kingly crown and holding twelve 
rolls or scrolls, indicating the Gospel in so many ditier- 
ent languages. The allusion is to the words of Joel, 
ii. 28 : " And I will pour out my Spirit upon all 
flesh." t This is the Greek formula, and it is curious 
that it should have been closely followed by Pinturic- 
chio ; — thus : 

5. In a rich landscape, with cypresses, palm-trees, 
and birds, the Virgin is seen kneeling ; St. Peter on 
the right, and James Minor on the left, also kneeling ; 
five other apostles on each side. The Celestial Dove, 
with outspread wings, descends in a glory surrounded 
by fifteen cherui)im : there are no tongues of fire. 
The prophet Jpel is seen above, with the inscription, 
^' Effaiuhtm de Sj>iritu vieo super omnein carnein." | 

6. The Virgin and the Apostles seated ; flames of 
fire stand on their heads ; the Holy Ghost apj^ears 
above in a glory of light, from which rays are poured 
on every side. Mary jNIagdalene, and another Mary, 
arc present behind; astonishment is the ])revailing ex- 
pression in every face, except in the Virgin and St. 
Peter. The composition is attributed to Raphael. § 

The next event of importance is the sepai-ation of the 
Twelve Apostles when they disperse to preach the Gas- 
pel in all lands. According to the ancient traditions, 
the apostles determined by lot to what countries they 
should go : Peter went to Antioch ; James the Great 
remained in Jerusalem and the neighborhood ; Philip 

* Rosini, vol. iii. p. 75. 

t Conveut of Chilandari, Mount Athos. 

J Vatican, Sala del Pozzo. § Vatican. 


went to Phrygia ; John, to Ephesns ; Thomas, to 
Parthia and Judfea ; Andrew, to Scythia ; Bartliolo- 
niew, to India and Judwa. The Parting of the Apostles 
is a beautiful sul)ject, of wliich I ]iave met with 1 ut 
few examples ; one is a Avoodcut after Titian. The 
Mission of the Apostles I remember to have seen by 
Bissoni over an altar in the Santa Giustina at Padua : 
they are preparing to depart ; one reads from a book ; 
another looses his shoes from his feet, in allusion to 
the text, "Take neither purse nor scrip nor shoes"; 
several are bidding adieu to the Virgin. This picture 
struck me as dramatic ; its merits otherwise I do not 

We have next "The Twelve Baptisms."* In the 
upper compartment Christ is standing in a majestic 
attitude, and on each side are six apostles, all alike, 
and in white garments. The inscription above is in 
Greek : " Go ye, and preach the Gospel to all nations." 
Below, in twelve smaller compartments, each of the 
apostles is seen baptizing a convert : an attendant, in 
white garments, stands by each font holding a napkin. 
One of the converts and his attendant are black, denot- 
ing clearly the chamberlain of the Queen of Ethiopia. 
This is a very uncommon subject. 

And, lastly, we have " The Twelve Martyrdoms." 
This is a more frequent series, in pictures and in prints, 
and occurs in a set of large fresco compositions in tlie 
church of San Nereo e Sant' Achilleo at Eome. In 
such representations the usual treatment is as follows : 

1. St. Peter is crucified with his head downwards. 

2. St. Andrew, bound on a transverse cross. 3. St. 
James Major, beheaded with a sword. 4. St. John, in 
a caldron of boiling oil. 5. St. Philip, bound on a 
cross in the form of a T. 6. St. Bartholomew, flayed. 
7. St. Thomas pierced with a spear. 8. St. Matthew, 
killed with a sword. 9. St. James Minor, struck down 

* Greek MS. ninth century. Paris, Bibl. du Roi, No. 510 


with a club. 10. St. Simon and St. Jude together . 
one is killed with a swoixl, the other with a club. 11. 
St. Matthias has his head cloven by a halbeit. 12. 
St. Paul is beheaded.* 

The authority for many of tliese martyrdoms is 
■wholly apocryphaljt and they sometimes vary ; but 
this is the usual mode of representation in Western 
Art. In early Cireek Art a series of the Deaths of the 
Apostles often occurs, but they do not all sutler martyr- 
dom ; and the subject of St. John in the caldron of 
boihng oil, so famous in the Latin Cluirch, is, I believe, 
unknown, or, at least, so rare, that 1 have not found it 
in frcnuine Bvzantine Art. 

The most ancient series I have met with (in a Greek 
MS. of the ninth century) shows us live apostles cruci- 
fied : St. Peter and St. Philip with the head down- 
wards ; St. Andrew on the transverse cross, as usual ; 
St. Simon and St. Bartholomew, in the same manner 
as our Saviour. St. Thomas is pierced by a lance ; 
and St. Jolin is buried, and then raised by angels, 
according to the legend. The same scries, similarly 
treated, ornamented the doors of the old Basilica of 
St. Paul, executed by Greek artists of the tenth cen- 

Wherever the Apostles appear as a series, we expect, 
of course, some degree of discriminating propriety of 
character in each face and figure. We seek it when 
they merely form a part of the general sdieme of sig- 
nificant decoration in the architectural arrangement of 
a place of worship ; we seek it with more reason when 
they stand before us as a series of devotional represen- 
tations ; and still more when, as actors in some particu- 

* A set of martyrdoms is in the Frankfort Museum ; another is 
mentioned in Bartsch, viii. 22. 

t Eusebius says that all the apostles suffered martyrdom ; but 
this is not borne out by any ancient ttstimouy. — Lardner^s 
Cred of Gospel Hist., vol. viii. p. 81. 

I They were fortunately engraved for D'Agincourt's Uistoire 
de PArt, before they were destroyed by fire. 


lar scene, they are supposed to be animated by senti- 
ments called forth by the occasion, and moditied by tlie 
individual cliaracter. By what test shall Ave try the 
truth and propriety of such representations 1 We ought 
to know both what to require from the artist, and on 
what grounds to require it, before we can rest satisfied. 
In the Gospel-histories the Apostles are consistently 
and beautifully distinguished in temper and bearing. 
Their characters, whether exhibited at full length, or 
merely touclied upon, are sustained with dramatic truth. 
The medieval legends, however wild, are, as far as 
character goes, in harmony with these Scriptural por- 
traits, and till up the outline given. It becomes, there- 
fore, a really interesting speculation to observe how far 
this variety of characteristic expression has been carried 
out in the early types, how far attended to, or neglected, 
by the great painters, since the revival of Art. 

St. Peter axd St. Paul. 

Lat. SS. Petrus et Paulus. Ital. San Pietro or Piero, San Paolo. 
Fr. S. Pierre, S. Paul. Spa. San Pedro, San Paolo. June 29 
and 30. 

I HAVE already observed that, as apostles and preach- 
ers of the word, St. Peter and St. Paul take the first 
l)lace. Even during their lives, a superiority was ac- 
corded to them ; and this superiority, as the acknowl- 
edged heads and founders of the Christian Church, 
under Christ, has been allowed down to the present 
time. The precedence is by common consent given to 
St. Peter ; but they are held to be equal in faith, in 
merit, and in sanctity. 

The early Christian Church was always considered 
under two great di\'isions : the church of the converted 
Jews and the church of the Gentiles. The first was 
represented by St. Petei-, the second by St. Paul. Stand- 
ing together in this mutual relation, they represent the 
universal Chm*ch of Christ ; hence in works of art thej 


ar3 seldom separated, and are indispensable in all eccle- 
siastical dc. -oration. Their proper place is on each side 
of the Saviour, or of the Virgin throned ; or on cacli 
sido of the altar ; or on each side of tlic arch over the 
choir. In any case, where they stand lo.uethcr, not 
merely as Apostles, but Founders, their place is next 
after the Evangelists and the Prophets. 

Thus seen almost everywhere in companionship, it 
becomes necessary to distinguish them from each other; 
for St. Peter does not always bear his keys, nor St. 
Paul his sword. In the earliest examjjlcs, these attri- 
butes are wholly omitted ; yet I scar.-ely know any in- 
stance in which a distinct typo of liead has not beca 
more or less attended to. 

The ancient Greek type of the head of St. Peter, 
" the Pilot of the Galilean lake," is so strongly charac- 
terized as to have the air of a portrait. It is either 
taken from the description of Nicephorus, so oftca 
quoted, or his description is taken from some very an- 
cient representation : it certainly harmonizes with all 
our preconceived notions of St. Peter's temperament 
and character. He is a robust old man, with a broad 
forehead, and rather coarse features, an open, undaunted 
countenance, short gray hair and siiort thick beard, 
curled, and of a silvery white : according to the descrip- 
tive portrait of Xicephorus, he had red, weak eyes, — a 
peculiarity Avhich it has not been thought necessary to 
preserve in his effigies. In some early pictures he is 
bald on the top of the head, and the hair grows thick 
around in a circle, somewhat like the priestly tonsure ; 
and in some examples this tonsure has the form of a 
triple row of curls close to the head, a kind of tiara. 
A curious exception to this pi-edominant, almost uni- 
versal, type is to be foun<l in Anglo-Saxon Art,* where 
St. Peter is always beardless, and wears the tonsure; 
so that but for the keys, suspended to a ring on his 
finger, one might take him for an elderly monk. It is 
a tradition that the Gentiles shaved the head of St. 

* St. ^uthlac's Book. Ethelwold's Benedictional. 


Peter in order to make him an object of derision, and 
tiiat this is the origin of the priestly tonsnre. 

Tlje dress of St. Peter in the mosaics and Greek 
pictures is a blue tunic, with -white drapery thrown over 
it, but in general the proper colors are a blue or green 
tunic with yellow drapery. On the early sarcophagi, 
and in the most ancient church mosaics, lie bears mere- 
ly a scroll or book, and, except in the character of the 
head, he is exactly like St. Paul : a little later we find 
him Avith the cross in one hand, and the Gospel in the 
other. The keys in his hand appear as his peculiar 
attribute about the eighth century. I have seen him 
with one great key, but in general he carries two keys, 
one of gold and one of silver, to absolve and to bind ; 
or, according to another interpretation, one is of gold 
and one of iron, opening the gates of heaven and hell : 
occasionally, but rarely, he has a third key, expressing 
the dominion over heaven and earth and hell.* 

St. Paul presents a striking contrast to St. Peter, in 
features as in character. There must have existed 
etfigies of him in very early times, for St. Augustine 
says that a certain Marcellina, living in the second cen- 
tury, preserved in her Lararium, among her household 
gods " the images of Homer, Pythagoras, Jesus Christ, 
and Paul the apostle." Chrysostom alludes to a por- 
trait of Paul which hung in his chamhcr, but unfortu- 
nately he does not describe it. The earliest allusion to 
the personal appearance of St. Paul occurs in Lucian, 
where he is styled, in a tone of mocking (lis])aragement, 
"the bald-headed Galilean with a hook-nose." The 
description given by Nicephoriis, founded, we may pre- 
sume, on tradition and on t!ie existing portraits, has 
been the authority followed in the early representations. 
According to the ancient tradition, Paul Avas a man of 
small and meagre stature, with an aquiline nose, a high 
forehead, and sparkling eyes. In the Greek t^-pe the 
face is long and oval, the nose aquiline, the forehead 
high and bald, the hair brown, the beard long, flowing 

* As in the mosaic on the tomb of Otho 11. (Lateran Mus.) 


and pointed, and of a dark brown (in the Greek for- 
mula it IS said that his beard should be grayish : I 
recollect no instance of St. Paul with a gray beard) ; 
his dress is like St. Peter's, a blue tunic and white 
mantle ; lie has a book or scroll in one hand, sometimes 
twelve rolls, which designate his epistles. He beai's the 
sword, his attribute in a double sense ; it signifies the 
manner of his martyrdom, and it is emblematical of 
the Kood fi;rlit fouirht bv the faithful Christian, armed 
with " the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of 
God." (Ephcs. vi. 17.) The life of St. Paul, after his 
convei'sion, was, as we know, one long spiritual com- 
bat : " j)crplexcd, but not in despair ; cast down, but 
not destroyed." 

Tiicsc traditional characteristic types of the features 
and persons of tlie two greatest apostles were long ad- 
hered to. We find them most strictly followed in the 
old Greek mosaics, in the early Christian sculpture, and 
the early pictures ; in all which the sturdy dignity and 
broad rustic features of St. Peter, and the elegant con- 
templative licad of St. Paul, who looks like a Greek 
philosoplier, form a most interesting and suggestive 
contrast. But, in later times, the old tyi)es, particular- 
ly in the liead of St. Paul, were neglected and degraded. 
The best painters took care not to deviate wholly from 
the square head and short gray beard of St. Peter; 
but, from the time of Sixtus IV., we find substituted 
for the head of St. Paul an arbitrary representation, 
which varied according to the model chosen by the 
artist, — which was sometimes a Roman porter or a 
German boor ; sometimes the antique Jupiter or the 
bust of a Greek rhetorician. 

I shall now give some examples, in chronological 
order, of the two great apostles represented together, as 
Poundei's of the Church. 

On the eaidy sarcophagi (from a. d. 321 to 400), St. 
Peter and St. Paul stand on each side of the Saviour. 
The former bears a cross, and is generaliy on the left 
hand of Christ. The cross given to Peter, and oftea 


set with jewels, is supposed to refer to the passage in 
St. John xxi. 19, "Signifying by what death he 
should die " : but it may surely bear another interpre- 
tation, i. c. the spirit of Christianity transmitted to all 
nations by the first and greatest of the apostles. St. 
Paul carries a roll of writing ; he has a very high bald 
forehead : in other respects the two a]wstlcs are not 
particularly discriminated ; they wear the classical cos- 
tume.* Similar figures of Peter and Paul occur on 
the ancient glass drinkiug-vessels and lamps preserved 
in the Vatican ; but the workmanship is so rude, that 
they are merely curiosities, and cannot be cited as 

iMosAic (Rome, a. d. 443) in Santa Maria Maggiore, 
over the arch which separates the sanctuary from the 
nave. We have in the centre a throne, on which lies 
the roll, sealed with seven seals ; above the throne rises 
a cross set with jirecious stones ; on each side of the 
throne, St. Peter and St. Paul ; they have no attributes, 
are habited in classical drajieries, and the whole repre- 
sentation is strictly antiriuc in style, without a trace of 
any of the cliaracteristics of Mediaeval Art. This is 
the oldest representation I have met with next to those 
on the sarcophagi. 

Mosaic (Rome, 6th century) in the church of Santa 
Sabina on the interior of the arch over the door. We 
find on one side St. Peter, on tlie other St. Paul. Un- 
der St. Peter stands a graceful female figure, veiled, 
and inscril>ed Ecdesia ex circumcisione ; under St. Paul, 
a female figure, crowned, and inscribed Ecclesia ex gen- 

Mosaic (Rome, a. d. 526) in St. Cosmo and St. 
Damian, on the vault of the apsis. Christ stands in 
the centre, sustained by clouds ; his right hand is raised 
in the attitude of one who exhorts (not blessing, as is 
the usual manner) ; the left hand holds the book of 
life; at his feet flows the river Jordan, the symbol 
of Baptism. On each side, but lower down and much 

* Bottari, Tab. xxv. 



smaller in size, stand St. Peter and St. Paul ; they seem 
to present St. C-osmo and St. Damian to the Saviour. 
Beyond these ajraiii, on cither side, stand St. Theodore 
and the ix>pe (Fehx I.) who dedicated the church. 
Pahn-trces, and a Phtenix crowned with a staiTV jrlory, 
emhlems of Victory and Immortality, close this majes- 
tic and sifrnificant composition on each side. Here St. 
Peter and St. Paul are di^nitied fii_^ures, in which the 
Greek type is str()n«;ly characterized; they wear long- 
white mantles, and liave no attrihutes. 

^losAic (Milan, 9fh century) in Sant Anihro^io. 
Clu'ist enthroned ])rcsents the Gospel to St. Paul, and 
the two keys to St. Peter. 

Mosaic (a. D. 936) on the tomb of Otho II. St. 
Peter and St. Paul together, rather more than half 
length, and above life size. St. Peter has three keys, 
suspended on a rinir ; St. Paul, the book and sword. 
The original mosaic is preserved in the Vatican, and a 
copy is in the Lateran. This relic is, as a document, 

Mosaic (a. d. 1216 - 1227), in the apsis of the old 
basilica of St. Paul. Christ is seated on a throne, 

with the cruciform glory and his name I C. XC. : the 
right hand gives the benediction in the Greek form ; he 
holds in his left an open book, inscribed vexite bene- 


34.) On the left, St. Peter with his right hand raised 
to Christ, and an open scroll in his left hand, inscribed 
TU ES ciiRiSTUs FiLius DEI vivi. On the other side 
of Christ, St. Paul; liis right hand on his breast, and 
in his left a scroll with these words, ix xomixe jesu 


ET IXFERXORUM. (Phil. xi. 10.) Bcvond St. Peter 
stands his brotlier St. Andrew ; and beyond St. Paul 
his favorite disciple Luke. At the foot of the throne 
kneels a diniinutive figure of the pope, Honorius 
III., by whom the mosaic was dedicated. Palm- 
trees close the composition on each side ; underneath 


runs the frieze of the Twelve Apostles, described at 
p. 176. 

Mosaic (12th century) in the Cathedral of IMonrcale 
at Palermo. St. Peter and St. Paul are seated on 
splendid thrones on each side of the tribune ; St. Peter 
liolds in his left hand a book, and the right, which gives 
the benediction, holds also the two keys: over liis head 
is inscribed sanctus petrus prixceps apostoloeum 


Paul holds the sword with the point upwards like a 
sceptre, and tlie Ijook as usual : the intellectual Gi-cek 
character of the head is strongly discriminated. The 
inscription is, saxctus paulus pr^dicator veeita- 


Among the i-idi and cui-ious bas-reliefs in front of 
the church of St. Trophime at Aries, we have St. Peter 
and St. Paul seated together receiving the souls of the 
just. Each has two souls in his lap, and the Archan- 
gel Michael is bringing another. 

In pictures, their proper place, as I have observed, is 
on each side of the throne of the Eedeemer, or on 
each side of the Virgin and Child : sometimes they are 
standing together, or reading in the same book. 

This must suffice for the devotional treatment of St. 
Peter and St. Paul, when represented as joint founders 
and patrons of the uniA-ersal Christian Church. Before 
I notice those historical subjects in which they appear 
together, I have to sav a few words of the manner in 
wliich they are treated separately and distinctly. And 
first of St. Peter. 

The various events of the life of St. Peter are re- 
corded in the Gospels and the Acts so minutely, that 
they may be presumed to be familiar to all readers. 
From these we may deduce liis character, remarkable 
for fervor and energy, ratlier than sustained poAver. His 
traditional and legendary history is full of incidents, 
miracles, and wonderful and picturesque passages. His 



importance and popularity, considered as Prince of the 
Apostles and Founder of the Church of Rome, have 
extended with the influence of that powerful Church 
of wliich he is the head and representative, and mul- 
tiplied, almost to infinitude, pictures and effiu:ies of him 
in his indivi(hial character, as well as historical repre- 
sentations of iiis life and actions, wherever his para- 
mount diiinitv is admitted. 

It struck me, when wandering over the grand old 
churclies of Ravenna, where the ecclesiastical mosaics 
are tlie most ancient that exist, and still in wonderful 
preservation, that St. Peter and St. Paul do not often 
appear, at least arc in no respect distinguished from the 
other apostles. Ravenna, in the lifth century, did not 
look to Rome for her saints. On the other hand, 
among t!ie earliest of the Roman mosaics, St. Peter is 
sometimes found sustaining the throne of Christ, with- 
out his companion St. Paul ; as in S. Maria-in-Traste- 
vere, S. Maria Nuova, and others. At Rome, St. Peter 
is the Saint, the Sandssi/no. The secession of the Prot- 
estant Churcli dimmed his glory as Prince of the Apos- 
tles and universal Saint ; he fell into a kind of disrepute 
as identified with the See of Rome, which exposed his 
effigies, in England and Scotland particularly, to a 
sweeping destruction. Those were disputatious days ; 
and Peter, the affectionate, enthusiastic, devoted, but 
somewhat rash apostle, veiled his head to the intellect- 
ual, intrepid, subtle philosopher Paul. 

Let us now see how Art has placed before us the 
sturdy Prince of the Apostles. 

I have already mentioned the characteristic type 
which belongs to him, and his prevalent attributes, — the 
key, the cross, the i)ook. When he figures among the 
disciples in the Gospel stories, he sometimes holds the 
fish as the symbol of his original vocation : if tlji> fisii" '"■ , -- ~-^^ 
be given to him in single devotional figures,^d:^s^gciM?^S^^^'^^ I/. 
also Christianitv, or the rite of Haptism. /^4 . 

The figures of St. Peter ^t^i^dii:^-, a/^positte aha 

/ ^^^"^ ^ ( Ihiriy-fourth Street Brai 


Patron Saint, with book and keys, are of sucli perpet- 
ual occuiTence as to defy all attempts to particularize 
them, and so familiar as to need no fmlher illustra- 

Representations of him in his peculiar character of 
Head and Founder of the Eoman Church, and first 
universal bishop, are less common. He is seated on a 
throne ; one hand is raised in the act of benediction ; 
in the other he holds the keys, and sometimes a book or 
scroll, inscribed with tlie text, in Latin, " Thou art 
Peter, and on this rock have I built my Church/' This 
subject of the throned St. Peter is very frecjuent in the 
older schools. The well-known picture by Giotto, 
painted for Cardinal Stcfancschi, now in the sacristy 
of the Vatican, is very fine, simple, and solemn. In a 
picture by Cima da Conegliano,t St. Peter is not only 
tln-oned, but wears the triple tiara as pope ; the coun- 
tenance is particularly earnest, fervent, almost fier^' in 
expression : the keys lie at his feet ; on one side stands 
St. John the Baptist, on the other St. Paul. 

As a deviation from tlie usual form of this sub- 
ject, I must mention an old bas-relief, full of charac- 
ter, and significantly appropriate to its locality, — the 
church of San Pietro-in-Vincoli, at Rome. St. Peter, 
enthroned, holds in one hand the keys and tlie Gos- 
pel ; with the other he presents his chains to a kneel- 
ing angel : this unusual treatment is very poetical and 

There are standing fignres of St. Peter wearing: the 
papal tiara, and brandishing his keys, — as in a picture 
by Cola dell' Amatrice. And I should think ]\Iilton 

* One of the finest I have ever seen is the " St. Pierre au Dona- 
teur," by Gaudenzlo Ferrari ; holding his keys (botli of golil), ha 
presents a kneeling votary, a man of middle age, who probably 
bore his name. Ths head of St. Peter is very characteristic, and 
has an energetic pleading expression, almost demanding what he 
requires for his votary. The whole ijicture is extremely fine 
(Turin Gallery, N >. 13.) 

t Milan, Brera. (No. 183.) 


had some such picture in his remembrance when he 
painted his St. Peter : — 

" Last came and last did go 
The pilot of the Galilean Lake ; 
Two massy kej's hu bore of metals twain, 
(The golden ope;?, the iron shuts amain,) 
H^ shook his mitred locks, and stern bespake." 

When, in devotional pictures, St. Peter is accompan- 
ied by anotlier apostle with no distinctive attri!)utes, we 
may suppose it to be St. JNIark, who was liis interpreter, 
companion, and amanuensis at Ivonie. Accord ino- to 
an early tradition, the Gospel of St. Mark was written 
down from the dictation of St. Peter.* In a miniature 
frontispiece to St. Mai'k's Gospel, the evangelist is 
seated writing, and St. Peter stands opposite, as if dic- 
tating. In a picture by Angelico.t Peter is preaching 
from a pulpit to a crowd of people : IMark, seated on 
one side is diligently taking down his words. In a 
very line picture by BonvicinoJ they stand together; 
St. Peter is reading from a book ; St. Mark iiolds a 
scroll and inkhorn ; lie is submitting to St. Peter the 
Gospel he has just penned, and wliich was afterwards 
confirmed by the apostle. 

Lastly, a magnificent Venetian picture § represents 
St. Peter throned as bishop, witli an earnest and rather 
stern countenance ; he holds a book in his*1iand ; two 
angels with musical instruments are seated on the steps 
of his throne : on his right hand stand John the Bap- 

* " What St. Clement says is lo this purpose : That St. Peter's 
hearers at Rome were desirous of having his sermons writ down 
for their use 5 that they made their request to Mark to leave them 
a written memorial of the doctrine they had received by word of 
mouth ; that they did not desist from their entreaties till they had 
prevailed upon him ; and St. Peter conBrmed that writing by his 
authority, that it might be read in the churches." — Labdxeb, 
Cred., vol. i. p. 250. 

t Fl. Gal. 

I Brera, Milan. 

.§ Giau Bellini : Tenice. S. M. de' Frari. 


tist, and St. Jerome as cardinal ; on \\U left St. Am- 
brose ; "wliile St. Mark bends over a book, as if reading 
to this luajostic auditory. 

Those scenes and incidents related in the Gospels in 
which St. Peter is a principal or conspicuous fitiure, I 
shall enlarge upon when treating of the life of Christ, 
and will only indicate a few of them here, as illusti-at- 
ing the manner in which St. Peter is introduced and 
treated in such subjects. 

We have, first, the Calling of Peter and Andrew in 
a picture by Basaiti,* Avhere the two brothers are kneel- 
ing at the feet of the Saviour ; the fishing-boats and the 
Lake of Gencsai-eth in the background : and in the 
beautiful fresco by Ghirlandajo in the Sistine Chapel, 
where a number of contemporary personages are intro- 
duced as spectators. St. Andrew presenting St. Peter 
to our Saviour (as in a picture by Cavalucci, in the Vat- 
ican), is auotlier version of the same subject; or St. 
Andrew is seen at the feet of Christ, while St. Peter is 
sitting on the edge of the boat, or descending from it in 

" Christ walking on the Sea " is a familiar and pic- 
turesque subject, not to be mistaken. The most ancient 
and most celebrated representation is Giotto's mosaic 
(a. d. 1298), now placed in the portico of St. Peter's, 
over the arch opposite to the principal door. The sen- 
timent in the composition of this subject is, generally, 
" Lord, help me ; or I perish " : St. Peter is sinking, 
and Christ is stretching out his hand to save him. 
It is considered as a type of the Church in danger, 
assailed bv enemies, and saved bv the miraculous 
interposition of the Redeemer ; and in this sense must 
the frequent representations in churches be under- 

In the " Miraculous Draught of Fishes," St. Peter 
is usually on his knees looking up with awe and grati- 
tude : " Dcjjart from me, O Lord ! for I am a sinful 

* Vienna Gal. 


man." Tlie composition of Raphael (tlie cartoon at 
Hampion Court) is just what we should seek for iu 
Rap!iael, a masterpiece of dramatic expression, — the 
siyiiiticant, the poetical, the miraculous predominating^. 
The composition of Rubens, at Malines, which deserves 
tlie next place, should be looked at in contrast, as 
an instance of the picturesque and vigorous treatment 
equally characteristic of the painter ; — all life and re- 
ality, even to the glittering tish which tuml)le in. the 
net. " St. Peter finding the tribute money," is a sub- 
ject I have seldom met with : the motif is simple, and 
not to be mistaken. 

In all the scenes of the life of our Saviour in which 
the apostles are assembled, — in the Transtiguration, in 
the Last Supper, in the " Washing the Teet of the 
Disciples," in the scene of the agony and the betrayal 
of Christ, — St. Peter is introduced as a more or less 
prominent figure, but always to be distinguished from 
the other apostles. In the third of these subjects, the 
washing of the feet, St. Peter generally looks up at 
Christ with an expression of humble expostulation, his 
hand on his head : the sentiment is, " Kot my feet 
only, but ray hands and my head." 

Iu the scene of the betrayal of Christ, St. Peter cut- 
ting off the ear of Maldius is sometimes a too promi- 
nent group ; and I remember an old German print in 
which St. Peter having cut off the ear, our Lord bends 
down to replace it.* 

" St. Peter denying the Saviour " is always one of 
the subjects in the series of the Passion of Christ. It 
occurs frequently on the ancient sarcophagi as the 
symbol of rei)entance, and is treated with classical asid 
sculptural simplicity, the cock being always introduced : 
it is here to be understood as a general emblem of hu- 
man weakness and repentance. As an action separate- 
ly, or as one of the series of the life and actions of Pe- 
ter, it has not been often painted ; it seems to have 
been avoided in general by the early Italian painters as 

* Bartsch, vi. 92. 


derogatory to the cliaracter and dignity of the apostle. 
The only examples I can recollect are in the later Ital- 
ian and Flemish schools. Teniers has adopted it as a 
vehicle for a guard-room scene ; soldiers playing at 
cards, bright armor, &c. Kemhrandt has taken it as 
a vehicle for a fine artificial light; and, for the same 
reason, the Caravaggio school delighted in it. The 
maiden, whose name in the old traditions is Balilla, is 
always introduced with a look and gesture of reproach, 
and the cock is often perched in the background. 

" Christ turned and looked upon Peter " : of this 
beautiful subject, worthy of Raphael himself, I can re- 
member no instance. 

The " Repentance of Peter " is a subject seldom 
treated in the earlier schools of Italy, but frequently ! y 
the later painters, and particidarly by the Bologna 
school ; in some instances most beautifully. It was a 
subject peculiarly suited to the genius of Guercino, who 
excelled in the expression of profound rather than ele- 
A^ated feeling. 

Tbere is a manner of representing the i-cpentance of 
Peter which seems peculiar to Spanish Art, and is more 
ideal than is usual with that school. Christ is bound 
to a column and crowned with thorns ; St. Peter kneels 
before him in an attitude of the deepest anguish and 
humiliation, and appears to be supplicating forgiveness. 
Except in the Spanish school, I have never met with 
this treatment. The little picture by Murillo* is an 
exquisite example ; and in the Spanish Gallery are 
two others, by Pedro de Cordova and Juan Juanes : 
in the former, St. Peter holds a pocket-handkerchief 
with which he has been wiping his eyes, and the cock 
is perched on the column to which our Saviour is 

Another ideal treatment we find in a picture by 
Guercino ; St. Peter is weeping bitterly, and opposite 
to him the Virgin is seated in motionless grief. 

Half-length figures of St. Peter looking up with an 

* " Le Christ a la Colonne " Louvre, 550. 


expression of repentant sorrow, and wrini:inc: liis hands, 
are of frequent o -currenre, more especially in tiic later 
followers of the Bologna and Neapolitan schools of the 
seventeenth century : Ribera, Laufraneo, Caravayirio, 
and Valentin. In most of these instances, the total 
absence of ideal or elevated sentiment is striking ; — 
any old bearded beggar out of the streets, who could 
cast up his eyes and look pathetic, served as a model. 

I recollect no picture of the Crucilixiou in which St. 
Peter is present. 

'' The delivery of tlic keys .to Peter " and " the 
Charge to Peter," (Feed my sheep,) cither in separate pic- 
tures or combined into one subject, have l>een of course 
favorite themes in a Church which founds its authority 
ou these particular circumstances. The bas-relief over 
the principal door of !St. Peter's at Rome represents 
the two themes in one : Christ delivers the keys to 
Peter, and the sheep are standing by. In the panels 
of the bronze doors beneath (a. d. 1431) we have the 
chain of thought and incident continued ; Peter deUvers 
the emblematical keys to Pope Eugeuius IV, 

It is curious that, while the repentance of Peter is a 
frequent subject ou the sarcophagi of the fourth cen- 
tury, the delivery of the keys to Peter occurs but once. 
Christ, as a i)eardless youth, presents to Peter two keys 
laid crosswise one over the other. Peter, in whose 
head the traditional type is most distinctly marked, has 
thrown his pallium over his outstretched hands, for, 
according to tlie antique^ ceremonial, of which the early 
sculpture and mosaics afford us so many examples, 
thing-s consecrated could only be touched with covered 
hands. This singular example is engraved in Bottari.* 
An example of l)eautiful and solemn treatment in paint- 
ing is Perugino's fresco in the Sistine Chapel. It con- 
tains twenty-one figures ; the conception is quite ideal, 
the composition regular even to formaUty, yet striking 

* Tab. xxi. 


and dramatic. In the centre, Peter kneelirig' on one 
knee, receives the keys from the hand of .-'the Saviour ; 
the apostles and disciples are arrange/il on each sirle. 
behind Christ and St. Peter; in i\\<h background is fhc 
rebuilding of the Temple ; — a double allcfrory : " De- 
stroy this temple, I Avill build it up in three days " : 
and also, perhaps, alUiding to the building of the 
chapel by Sixtus lY. 

In Eaphael's -artoon* the scene is an open plain : 
Christ stands on!- the right ; in front, St. Peter kneels, 
with the keys in. his hand ; Christ extends one hand to 
Peter, and v;\th the other points to a flock of sheep in 
the background. TliQ introduction of the sheep into 
this subject has I)een criticised as at once too literal 
and too allegorical, — a too literal transcript of the 
words, a too allcf^orical version of the meaning ; but I 
do not see how the words of our Saviour could have 
been otherwise rendered in painting, which must speak 
to us through sensible objects. The other apostles, 
standing behind Peter, show in each countenance the 
ditferent manner in which they are affected by the 
words of the Saviour. 

By Gian Bellini : a beautiful picture :t St. Peter 
kneeling, half length, receives the keys from Jesus 
Christ, seated on a throne. Behind St. Peter stand 
the three Christian graces, Faith, Hope, and Charity. 
Poussin has taken this subject in his scries of the Seven 
Sacraments, J to represent the sacrament of Ordination. 
In this instance again,. the two themes are united; and 
we must also remember, that the allegorical representa- 
tion of the disciples and followers of Christ as sheep 
looking up to be fed, is consecrated by the practice of 
the earliest schools of Christian Art. Eubens has ren- 
dered the subject very simply, in a picture containing 
only the two figures, Christ and St. Peter ; § and again 
with five figures, less good || Numerous other exam- 

* Hampton Court. f Madrid Gal., No. 114. 

I Bridgewater Gal. § Cathedral at Malines. 

II Gal. of the Hague. 


pies might be <riven ; but the subject is one that, how- 
ever treated, cannot be easily mistaken. 

A very ideal version of this subject is where St. 
Peter kneels at the feet of the Madonna, and tlie Infant 
Clirist, bending from her lap, presents the keys to him ; 
as in a singularly fine and large composition by Crivelli,* 
and in another by Andrea Salaiuo. Another, very beau- 
tiful and curious, is in the possession of Mr. Bromley 
of Woottcn.f 

After the ascension of our Saviour, the personal his- 
tory of St. Peter is mingled first with that of St. John, 
and afterwards with that of St. Paul. 

" Peter and John healing the lame man at the gate 
called Beautiful " is the subject of one of tljp finest of 
the cartoons at Hampton Court. Perin del Vaga, 
NicGolo Ponssin, and others less renowned, have also 
treated it ; it is susceptible of much contrast and dra- 
matic cftect. 

" The sick are brought out and placed in the shadow 
of Peter and John that they may be healed," by Ma- 

•' Peter preaching to the early converts " : the two 
most beautiful compositions I have seen, are the simple 
group of Masaccio ; and another by Le Sueur, full of 
variety and sentiment. 

" Peter and John communicate the Holy Ghost by 
laying their hands on the disciples," by Vasari.§ I do 
not well remember this picture. 

The Vision of Peter : three angels sustain the curtain 
or sheet which contains the various forbidden animals, 
as pigs, rabbits, &c. (as in a print after Guercino). 

" iPeter baptizes the Centurion " (very appropriately 

* This p'cture, formerly in the Brera, is now in England, in the 
gallery of Lord Ward. It is the finest and most characteristic 
specimen of the master I have ever seen. 

t It is signed Medcla, and attributed to Glulio della Mendula 5 
a painter (except through this picture) unknown to me. 

t Braacacci Chapel, Florence. § Berlin Gal., 313. 


placed in the baptistery of the Vatican). St. Peter 
meets the Centurion ; he blesses the family of the 
Centurion. All commonplace versions of very inter- 
esting and picturesque subjects. 

" The Death of Ananias." Raphael's cartoon of 
this awful scene is a masterpiece of dramatic and scenic 
power ; never was a story more admirably and com- 
pletely told in painting. Those who had to deal with 
the same subject, as if to avoid a too close comparison 
with his unapproachable excellence, have chosen the 
death of Sapphira as the motif: as, for example, 
Niccolo Poussin.* 

" Dorcas or Tabitha restored to life=" One of the 
finest and most effective of Guercino's pictures, now in 
the Palazzo Pitti : the simple dignity of the apostle, 
and the bjolc of sick amazement in the face of the 
woman restored to consciousness, show how strong 
Guercino could be when he had to deal with natural 
emotions of no elevated kind. The same subject, by 
Costanzi, is among the great mosaics in St. Peter's. 
" The Death of Dorcas," by Le Sueur, is a beautiful 
composition. She lies extended on a couch ; St. Peter 
and two other apostles approach the foot of it : the poor 
widows, weeping, show to St. Peter the garments W'hich 
Dorcas had made for them. (Acts ix. 39.) 

The imprisonment of Peter, and his deliverance by 
the Angel, were incidents so important, and offer such 
obvious points of dramatic effect, that they have been 
treated in every possible variety of style and sentiment, 
from the simple formality of the early mosaics, where 
the two figures — Peter sitting on a stool, leaning his 
head on his hand, and the Angel at his side — express 
the story like a vision, t down to the scenic and archi- 
tectural compositions of SteenAvick, where, amid a vast 
persi^ective of gloomy vaults and jjillars, a diminutive 

* Louvre, 685. 

t .A.S in the Greek mosaics in the Cathedral of Monreale, near 


St. Peter, witli an Anj^el or a sentinel placed some- 
where in the foreground, just serves to give the picture 
a niimo.* 

So:no examples of this subject arc of great ce- 
lebri t y. 

jVLisaccio, in the frescos of tlie Brancacci Chapel, 
has represented Peter in prison, looking through liis 
grated window, and Paul outside communing with 
him. (The no')lc figure of St. Paul in this fresco was 
imitated l»y R.ipliael in the " St. Paul preaching at 
Athens.") Ii the next compartment of the series, 
Masaceio has given us the Angel leading forth Peter, 
wliile the guard sleeps at the door : he sleeps as one 
oppressed with an unnatural sleep. Raphael's fresco 
in the Vatican is not one of his best, but he has seized 
on the obvious point of effect, both as to light and 
grou;)ing ; and wo have three separate moments of the 
same iuL-ident, wliich yet combine most happily into one 
grand scene. Tims in the centre, over the window, we 
see through a grating the interior of the prison, where 
St. Peter is sleeping between two guards, who, leaning 
on tlieir weapons, are sunk in a deep charmed slumber ; t 
an angel, whose celestial radiance lills the dungeon with 
a flood of light, is in the act of waking the apostle : on 
the right of the spectator, the angel leads the ajwstle 
out of the prison ; two guards are sleeping on the 
steps : on tlie lefc, the soldiers arc roused from sleep, 
an, I one witli a lighted torch appears to be giving the 
alarm ; the crescent moon faintly illumines the back- 
grouii 1. 

T;ie dt'liverance of St. Peter has always been con- 
sidered as iij,iuMtive of the deliverance of the Church ; 
and the two other frescos of this room, the Heliorlorus 
and tlie Attila, bear the same interpretation. It is 

* S'v-ril such pictures are in the royal collictions at Windsor 
an 1 II iin|)t )n Court. 

t M ))ra makes a characteristic remark on this fresco -. he is 
amazed at the self-denial of the painter, who could cross this fine 
group with the black iron bars whicli represent the prison. 


worth while to compare this dramatic composition of 
Raphael Avith others where'n the story is' merely a 
vc'iiclc for artificial effects cf light, as in a picture hy 
Gerard Hontliorst ; or treated like a supernatural 
vision, as by that poet Rembrandt. 

Those historical subjects in which St. Peter and 
;. Paul 
St. Paul. 

St. Paul tigm-e together will be noticed in the life of 

I come now to the legendary stories connected with 
St. Peter ; — an inexhaustible source of popular and 
])ictorial interest. 

Peter was at Jerusalem as late as a. d. 52 ; then at 
Antioch ; also in Babylon : according to the most an- 
cient testimonies he was at Rome about a. d. 63 ; but 
the tradition, tliat he resided as bishop in the city of 
liome for twenty-five years, first related by Jerome, 
seems questioual)lc.* Among the legendary incidents 
which marked his sojourn in Rome, the first, and the 
most important, is the story of Simon Magus. 

Simon, a famous magician among the Jews, had 
astonished the whole city of Jerusalem by his won- 
derful feats ; but his inventions and sorceries were 
overcome by the real miracles of Peter, as the Egyp- 
tian magi had been conquered by Aaron. He offered 
the apostles money to buy the secret of their power, 
Avhich Peter rejected with indignation. St. Augustine 
tells us, as a characteristic trait of the fiery-spirited 
apostle, that " if lie had fiillen on the traitor Simon, he 
would certainly have torn him to pieces with his teeth " 

* Some Protestant writers have set aside St. Peter's ministry at 
Rome as alto<,'ether apocryphal •, but Gieseler, an author by no 
means credulous, considers that the historical evidence is in favor 
of the tradition, {v. Text-booli of Eccles. Hist., p. 53.) This is the 
more satisfactory, because, even to Protestants, it is not agreeable 
to be at Rome and to be obliged to reject certain associations 
which add to the poetical as well as to the religious interest of 
the place. 


The macrician, vanquishcfl by a superior power, flunp^ 
Ilia l)Ooks into the Dead Sea, hroke iiis wand, and fled 
to Home, where lie beeame a irreat favorite of tlie Em- 
peror Chiudius, and afterwards of Nero. Perer, bent 
on counteractini^ the wicked sorceries of Simon, fol- 
lowed iiini to Home. About two years after his arrival 
he was joined there by the Apostle Paul. Simon 
Maojus havinj^ asserted that he was himself a god, and 
could raise the dead, Peter and Paul rebuked his im- 
piety, and challenged him to a trial of skill in presence 
of the emperor. The arts of the magician foiled ; Peter 
and Paul restored the youth to life : and on many other 
occasions Simon was vanquished and put to shame by 
the miraculous power of the apostles. At length he 
undertook to fly up to heaven in sight of the emperor 
and the people ; and, crowned with laurel, and supported 
by demons, he flung himself from a tower, and ap- 
peared for a while to float thus in the air : but St. 
Peter, falling on his knees, commanded the demons to 
let go their hold, and Simon, precipitated to the ground, 
was dashed to pieces. 

Tliis romantic legend, so popular in the middle 
ages, is founded on some antique traditions not wholly 
unsupported by historical testimony. 

There can be no doubt that there existed in the first 
century a Simon, a Samaritan, a pretender to divine 
authority and supernatural powers ; who, for a time, 
had many followers; who stood in a certain relation to 
Christianity ; and who may have held some opinions 
more or less similar to those entertained l)y the most 
famous heretics of the early ages, the Gnostics. Ire- 
niBus calls this Simon the father of all heretics. " All 
those," he says, " who in any way corrupt the truth, or 
mar the preaching of the Church, are disciples and suc- 
cessors of Simon, the Samaritan magician." Simon 
gave himself forth as a god, and carried about with 
him a beautiful woman named Helena, wliom he repre- 
sented as the first conception of his — that is, of the 
divine — raind, the symbol or manifestation of that 


portion of spii'ituality which had become entangled in 

The incidents of the story of Simon Magus have 
been often and variously treated. 

1. By Quiniin ^laisys : Peter refuses the offer of 
Simon Magus, — "Thy money perish with thee!" 
Here Peter wears the mitre of a bishop : the picture 
is full of coarse but natural expression. 

2. " Peter and Paul accused before Nero " : the 
fresco in the Brancacci Chapel, attributed Ijy Kugler 
to Pilippino Lippi, is certainly one of the most perfect 
pieces of art, as a dramatic composition, which wc 
liave before the time of Baphacl. To the right the 
emperor is sealed on his throne, on each side his min- 
isters and attendants. The counienances are finely 
varied ; some of them animated by attention and curi- 
osity, others sunk in deep tliought. The two apostles, 
and their accuser Simon Magus, are in front. Simon, 
a magnificent figure, w ho might serve for a Prosijcro, 
lays his liand on the vest of Peter, as if to drag Jiim 
forward ; Paul stands aside with quiet dignity ; Peter, 
with a countenance full of energetic expression, points 
contemptuously to the broken idol at his feet. For the 
felicity and animation with which the story is told, and 
for ]jropriety, grace, and grandeur, Eaphael has not 
often exceeded this picture. 

3. Another of the series of the life of Peter in the 
Brancacci Chapel is the resuscitation of the youth, who 
in the legend is called the nejJiew of the eniperor ; a 
com])Osiiion of numerous figures. In the centre stands 
St. Peter, and before him kneels tlie youth; a skull and 
a iiiw bones are near him — a naive method of exjjrcss- 
ing his return from death to life. The variety of ex- 
pression in the countenances of the assembled specta- 
tors is very fine. According to the custom of tlie 
Florentine school at that time, many are portraits of 

* lis represented her as !i resuscitation of the famous Helen of 
Troy, which is said to have suggested to Goeihe the resuscitation 
of Helena in the second part of Faust. 


distinjrnislied persons ; and, considcrinj^ thai the fresco 
was painted at a period -most interesting: in the Floren- 
tine history (v. d. 1440), \vc have nnu-h reason to re- 
gret tliat tliese can no hjn'j:er he discriminated. 

4. " The Fall of Simon Mairus" is a favorite and 
picturesque suhject, often repeated. A most ancient 
and most curious version is that on the walls of the 
Catliedral at Assisi, oI<lcr tlian the time of Giotto, and 
attributed to Giunta Tisano. (a. d. 1232.) On one 
side is a pyramidical tower formed of wooden hars ; 
Peter and Paul are kneelinj^ in front ; tlic fi.i,nirc of tlio 
mai^ician is seen floatinj^ in tlie air and sustained hy 
liideous d'inons; — very dreamy, poetical, and fanci- 
ful, lii Mv. Oftley's collection I saw a suiall ancient 
picture of tlie same subject, very curious, attributed to 
B^nozzo Gozzoli. Raphael's composiiion in the Vati- 
can has the simplicity of a classical has-relicf, — a style 
which does not appear suited to this romantic ]e;^end. 
Tlie picture by L. Caracci at Naples I liave not seen. 
Over one of tlie altars of St. Peter we now see tho 
great mosaic, after Vanni's i)icture of tliis subject; a 
clever commonplace treatment: the s.cne is an amphi- 
theatre, the emperor alwve in his balcony; Peter and 
Paul in front, invoking the name of Christ, and Simon 
]Magus tumbling headlong, forsaken l)y liis demons; in 
the background sit tlie vestals. Battoni's great picture 
in the S. ^Nlaria degli An^cli at Rome is considered 
his best production ; it is full of well-studied academic 
drawing, but scenic and mannered. 

Tlie next snbject in the order of events is styled the 
"DoMixii, QUO VADis ? " After the burning of 
Rome, Nero threw upon the Christians the accusation 
of having fired the city. This was the origin of tlie 
first persecution, in whicli many perished by terriiile 
and hitherto unheard of deaths. The Christian con- 
verts besought Peter not to expose liis life, which was 
dear and necessary to the well-being of all ; and at 
length he consented to depart from Rome. But as 

ai2 SACR::n a\d lfajkxdary art. 

he fled alons; the Appian Way, ahont two miles from 
the jrates, lie was met by a vision of our Saviour travel- 
ling towards the city. Struck with amazeraenr, he ex- 
claimed, " Lord ! whither pocst tliou ? " to which tlic 
Saviour, looking upon him with a mild sadness, replied, 
"I go to Rome to he (rue ified a second lime," and van- 
islied. Peter, taking this for a sign that he was to 
submit himself to the sufferings prepared for him, im- 
mediately turned back, and re-entered the city. Michael 
Angelo's famous statue, now in the ehm*ch of S. Maria- 
sopra-Minerva at Rome, is supposed to represent Christ 
as he appeared to Peter on this occasion ; and a cast 
or copy of it is in the little church of "Domine, quo 
vadis V " erected on the spot sanctified by this mysteri- 
ous meeting. 

It is surprising that this most beautiful, picturesque, 
and, to my fancy, sublime legend has been so seldom 
treated ; and never, as it a])])ears to me, in a manner 
worthy of its capai)ilities and its high significance. It 
is seldom that a whole story can be told by two figures, 
and these two figures placed in such grand and dramat- 
ic contrast ; Christ in his serene majesty, and radiant 
with all the glory of beatitude, yet with an expression 
of gentle reproach ; the apostle at his feet, arrested in 
his flight, amazed, and yet filled with a trembling joy ; 
and for the backiu'ound the wide Campagua or the tow- 
ering Avails of imperial Rome ; — these are grand ma- 
terials ; hut the pictures I have met with are all inef- 
fective in contention. The best fall short of the sub- 
lime ideal; most of them are theatrical and commou- 

Raphael has interpreted it in a style rather too clas- 
sical for the spirit of the legend ; Aviih great sim])liciiy 
and diuniry, but as a/act, rather than a vision (onjurcd 
up by the stricken conscience and tenderness of the 
affectionate apostle. The small picture liy Annilial 
Caracci in our National Gallery is a carefully finished 
academical study and nothing m.ore, but may be re- 
ferred to as a fair example of the usual moile of treat- 

N7". PiiTiJi a:vu ;st. paul. 


Peter returned to Rome, persisted in his appointed 
work, prcacliiiij^ and baptizini^ ; was seized with St. 
Paul and thrown into the Manicrtine dunj^^^ons under 
tlje Capitol. The two centurions who "guarded them, 
Processus and ^lartinian, and manv of the criminals 
confined in the same prison, were converted by the 
preaching of the apostle ; and there being no water to 
baptize them, at the ])rayer of St. Peter a fountain 
sprang up from the stone floor ; which may be seen at 
this day. 

<' The Baptism of St. Processus and St. Martinian 
in the Dungeon," by Trevisani, is in the baptistery of 
St. Peter's at Rome ; they afterwards sulfered for the 
faith, and were canonized. In the same church is the 
scene of their inartvrdora by Valentino ; thev are seen 
bound and stretched on a luirdle, the head of one to 
the feet of the other, and thus beaten to deatli. The 
former picture — the Ba})tisni — is comnion])hice ; the 
hitter, terrible for dark and effective expression ; it is 
just one of those subjects in which the Caravaggio 
school delighted. 


A few days after their incarceration, St. Peter and 
St. Paul were condemned to death. According to one 
tradition, St. Peter sutfered martyrdom in the Circus 
of Caligula at the foot of the Vatican, and was cruci- 
fied between two metre, i. e. the goals or tcrmina; in 
tlie Circus, round which the chariots turned in the race ; 
but, according to another tradition, he was put to death 
i:i the court-yard of a barrack or military station on 
t'lo summit of Mons Janicula, where the chuivh of San 
Pictro in Montoreo now stands ; that is, on an eminence 
above the site of the Circus of Caligula. At his own 
request, and that his death might be even more painful 
and ignominious than tliat of his Divine jNListcr, he was 
crucilicd with his head downwards. 

In the earliest representations I have met with,* St. 
Peter is raised on the cross with his head downwards, 

* MS., Vatican, No. 540D, 10th century. 


and wears a lonrr shirt which is fastened round his 
ankles. In tlie picture of Giotto,* the local circum- 
stances, according to tlie first tradition, are carefully 
attended to : we have the cross erected between the 
two metffi, and about twenty soldiers and attendants ; 
among them a Avonian wlio embraces the foot of the 
cross, as the ^Magdalene embraces the cross of the 
Saviour. Above are seen angels, wlio bear the soul 
of tlie martvred saint in a glorv to heaven. Masac- 
cio's composition t is very simple ; the scene is the 
court-yard of a military station (according to the sec- 
ond tradition). Peter is already nailed upon a cross ; 
three executioners are in the act of raising it witli cords 
and a pulley to suspend it against a great beam of 
ivood ; there arc several soldiers, but no women, pres- 
ent. In Guido's composition t there are only three 
figures, the apostle and two executioners ; it is cele- 
brated as a work of art, but it ap])eared to me most in- 
effective. On the other liand, Kubens has gone into 
the opposite extreme ; there are only tln-ec persons, tlie 
principal figure filling nearly the whole of the canvas : 
it is full of vigor, truth, and nature ; but the brutality 
of tlic two executioners, and the agony of the aged 
saint, too coarsely and painfully literal. These simple 
representations of the mere act or fact siiould be com- 
pared Avith the fresco of Michael Angelo,§ in which the 
event ij evolved into a grand drama. Here the scene 
is evidenrly ihe summit of the Mons Janiculum : in the 
midst of a. crowd of soldiers and s])ectators, St. Peter 
lies nailed vo the cross, which a number of men ai-e cx- 
eriing tlieir utmost strength to raise from the ground. 

The legend vrhich raakes St. Peter the keeper of the 
gate of Paradise, v;iih power to grant or refuse admis- 
sion, is founded on the deUvery of the keys to Peter. 

* In the saciiity of the Vancan. 

t 1 1 the Di-<.,uoacci Cliapei aX Florenca. 

+ I.i th? Gal1--T rf the Yatie-iu. 

§ Vatican. Cap-illu Paolina 


In most of the pictures which represent the entrance of 
t!ie blessed into Paradise or tlie New Jerusalem, Peter 
stands witli his keys near tlie gate. There is a beauti- 
ful cxa;nple iii the {r>"cat fresco of Simon Memini in t!ie 
chapel da' SpajminJi at Florence : St. Peter stands at 
the open portal with liis creat key, and two an<2,-els 
cro'.va with {r.n-lands the souls of the just as tliey enter 
iovouslv hand in hand. 

T!ic legend of St. Petronilla, the daughter of St. 
Peter (in French, Sainte Pernelle), has never been 
popular as a subject of art, and I can remember no 
scries of incidents from the life of St. Peter in whicli 
she is iutrodu^-ed, except tliose in the Carmine at Flor- 
ence. It is apparently a Koman legend, and either 
unknown to the earliest artists, or neglected by them. 
Id is thus related : — 

" The Apostle Peter had a daugliter born in lawful 
wedlock, wlio accompanied him in his journey from the Bjing at Rome witli him, she fell sick of a 
grievous in!irinity which deprived her of the use of her 
limbs. And it hap])ened that as the disciples were at 
meat with liim in his house, one said to him, ' Master, 
how is it that thou, wlio healest the infirmities of others, 
do5t not heal thy dauu,!iter Petronilla ? ' And St. Peter 
answered, ' It is good for her to remain sick ' : but, that 
tlr^y might see the power that was in the word of God, 
he commanded Iior to get up and serve them at table, 
w'lich slie did ; and having done so, s!ie lay down again 
helpless as before ; but many years afterwards, being 
perfe.-ted by her long suffering, and praying fervently, 
she was healed. Petronilla was wonderfully fair ; and 
Valerius Flaccus, a young and noble Roman, who was 
a heathen, became enamored of her beauty, and sougliS 
her for his wife ; and he being very powerful, she feared 
tJ refuse him ; she thei-efore desired him to return in 
three days, and promised that he should then carry her 
homo. But she prayed earnestly to i)e delivered fro!U 
this peril ; and when Flaccus retomed "in t!n\*e days 


with ![rreat pomp to celebrate the marriafre, he found 
licr dead. The company of nobles avIio attended Lim 
carried her to the prave, in wliicli they laid lier, crowned 
wiili roses ; and Flaccus lamented greatly."* 

Tlie leaend places her death in the year 98, that 
is, t'lirty-four years after the death of St. Peter ; hut 
it would be in \\x\\\ to attempt to reconcile the dales 
and improbabilities of this story. 

St. Peter raising Petronilla from her sick-bed is one 
of the subjects by Masaccio in the Brancacci Chapel. 
The scene of her entombment is the subject of a once 
celebrated and colossal picture by Guercino : the copy- 
in mosaic is over the altar dedicated to her in St. 
Peter's : in front, and in the lower part of the picture, 
she is just seen as they are letting her down into the 
grave, crowned witli roses ; beliind stands Flacciis with 
a handkerchief in his hand, and a crowd of spectators : 
in the upper part of the picture Petronilla is already in 
Paradise, kneeling, in a rich dress, before the feet of 
C'lrist, having exchanged an eartldy for a heavenly 
bridegroom. This great ])icture exhibits, in a surpass- 
ing degree, the merits and defects of Guercino ; it is 
effective, dramatic, deeply and forcibly colored, and 
arrests attention : on the other hand, it is coarse, 
crowded, vulgar in sentiment, and repugnant to our 
better taste. There is a standing figure of Petronilla 
in the Duomo at Lucca, by Daniel di Volterra, very 

* u. E perfetto Legend ario. 

t There was an oratory in the church of the Franciscans at 
Turalla, in which they celabrated a yearly festival i;i honor of St. 
PeLroailla. Wliile Gaudenzio Ferrari was painting there the seri s 
of fr<;sc33 in the chapel of the crucifixi:)n on the S.icro Monte, hi 
prunised to paint for the fi.'Stival an effiiry of the saint. Tho cva 
of th'i day arrived, and still it was not b^-gun : the people mur- 
mured, and repraached him, which he atf.^ct d t ) trc-at j .'Stingly ; 
but hi arose in the night, antl with no other light than the beams 
of tlie full moon, executed a charming figure of St Petronilla, 
which Still exists. She stands holding a book, a white veil over 
her head, and a yellow mantle falling in rich folds : she has uo 

ST. AXD ST. PAUL. 217 

The life of St. Peter, when represented as a series, 
generally eoini)rises the following su'.yeets, fommeiiciug 
with the tirsc important incident after the Ascension of 

1. Peter and John lical the lame man r.t tlic Bcau- 
tifnl Gate. 2. Peter heals tiie paralytic Eneas. 3. 
Peter raises Tabitha. 4. The angel takes otf tlie 
chains of Peter. .5. He follows the angel out of tiie 
prison. G. St. Peter and St. Paul meet at liome. 7. 
Peter and Paul before Xero arc a^-cused by Simon Ma- 
gus. 8. The fall of Simon Magus. 9. The crucirtx- 
ion of St. Peter, This example is taken from the 
series of mosaics in the Cathedral of !Moureale, at 

The fine series of freseos in the Branc-acci Chapel 
at Florence is ditterently arranged ; thus: 1. The trib- 
nte-mouey found in the fish by St. Peter. 2. Peter 
preaching to the converts. 3. Peter baptizes the con- 
verts. In this fresco, the youth, who has thrown olF 
his garments and is preparing for baptism, is famous 
as the first really graceful and well-drawn undraped 
fiirure wliicli had been produced since the revival of 
Art. 4. Peter and John heal the cripple at the Beau- 
tiful Gate, and Petronilla is raised from her bed. 5. 
Peter in his prison is visited by Paul. 6. Peter deliv- 
ered by the angel. 7. The resuscitation of the dead 
youth. 8. The sick are laid in the way of Peter and 
John, " that at the least the shadow of Peter passing 
by might overshadow some of them.'' 9. Peter and 
John distribute alms ; a dead figure lies at the feet of 
tlie apostles, perha])s Ananias. The situation of the 

distinctive emblem. " Gaudenzio che in una bellanotte d' estate 
dipiase a-aiiivid- muraglie una tuttu graziac puJoi-j nieatie 
u:i i):iHi.lo raj^irio tli lii.'.a s'oucato d lUa frondosa chiuaia d' alb.r > 
dolcemeiite j:!' lira U i la froiite calva e la b irba rossicci a, pres'iit a 
un noil SJ ciie di ideale e di roiDauzescj chi .iite rapiscj." 
— 0| ili G.iule;;zio Ferrari, No. 21. (^ili^r^'i, Turin. It is to 
hi regretted that in this valuable work neither the pages nor ths 
plates are numbered.) 


fresco is very dark, so that it is difficult to distinguish 
the action and expression of the figures. 10. Peter 
and Paul accused before !Ncro. 1 1 Tlic crucifixion 
of Peter. 

Ill kSt. Peter's at Pome, we have of course every 
scene from the life of the apostle which could well i)e 
cx])ressed by Art ; but none of these are of great 
merit or interest : most of them are from the schools 
of the seventeenth ceuturv. 

St. Paul, though called to the apostleship after the 
ascension of the Saviour, takes ranlc next to St. Peter 
as one of the cliicf witnesses of the Christian faith. 
Of all the apostles lie is the most interesting ; the one 
of whose personal character and history Ave know most, 
and tln-ougli the most direct and irrefragable testimony. 
The events of his life, as conveyed in the Acts and 
the Epistles, arc so well known, that I need not here 
particularize them. The legends connected with him 
are very few. 

The earliest single figure of St. Paul to which I can 
refer was found painted on the walls of the cemetery 
of Priscilla, near Pome.* He stands, with outstretched 
arms, in the act of prayer; (in tlic early ages of Chris- 
tianity the act of sui)plication was expressed in tiie 
classical manner, that is, not Avith folded hands, but 
Avitli the arms extended ;) he has the nimlius ; his dress 
is that of a traveller, the tunic and pallium being short, 
and his feet sandalled, perhaps to indicate his many 
and celebrated travels; perhaps, also, it rejjrcsents Paul 
praying for his flock before he departed from Muccdon 
to return to Jerusalem (Acts xx.) : over this ancient 
figure, Avhich, though ill drawn, is quite classical in 
sentiment and costume, is inscribed paulus . pastor . 
AP0ST0L03 ; on his right hand stands the Good Shep- 
herd, in reference to the title of pastor, inscribed over 
his effigy. Another figure of St. Paul, Avhich aj)pears 

* Second or third century, Bosio, p. 519. 


to be of later date, luit anterior to the fifth eentnrv, 
wais found in tiic catacombs at Naples : in this etii.i:-v 
he wears the dress of a Greek philosopher; the sylo 
in wliieh the drapery is worn recalls the time of Ha- 
drian : he has no nimbus, nor is the head bald ; he has 
sandals on his feet : over his head is inscri!)ed his 
name, Paulus ; near him is a smaller fiy:urc similarly 
draped, wlio otters him fruit and Howers in a vase ; 
probably the personage who was entombed on the sijot. 

At what period tlic sword was jriven to St. Paul as 
his distinctive attribute is with antiquaries a disputed 
point ; certainly, much later than the keys were jiiven 
to Peter.* If we could be sure that the mosaic on the 
tomb of Otho II., and another mosaic already described, 
liad not been altered in successive restorations, these 
would be evidence that the sword was given to St. 
Paul as his attribute as early as the sixth century ; but 
there are no monuments which can be absolutely trusted 
as regards the introduction of the sword before the end 
cf the eleventh century ; since the end of the fourteenih 
century, it has been so generally ado])ted, that in the 
devotional effigies I can remember no instance in which 
it is omitted. When St. Paul is leaning on the sword, 
it expresses his martyrdom ; when he holds it alofr, it 
expresses also his warfare in the cause of Christ : when 
two swords are given to him, one is the attribute, the 
other the emblem ; but this double allusion does not 
occur in any of the older representations. In I.aly I 
never met with St. Paul bearing two swords, and the 
only instance I can call to mind is the bronze statue 
by Peter Vischer, on the shrine of St. Sebald, at Nu- 

Although devotional representations of St. Paul sep- 
arate from St. Peter and the other apostles occur very 
rarely, pictures from liis life and actions are commonly 
met with ; the principal events arc so fami'.iar, that 
they are easily recognized and discriminated even by 

* I'. JiUnt-r'i Sinnbilrl r, p. .35. 


the most unlearned in Biblical illustration : considered 
and treated as a series, they form a most iniercsting 
and dramatic succession of scenes, often introduced 
into the old churches ; but the incidents chosen are 
not always the same. 

Paul, before his conversion, was present at the ston- 
ing of Stephen, and he is generally introduced holding 
on his knees the garments of the executioners. In 
some ancient ])ictures, he has, even Avhile looking on 
and " consenting to the death " of the victim, the glory 
round his head, as one who, while " breathing out 
t!n-eatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the 
Lord," was already "a chosen vessel to bear His name 
before the Gentiles." But in a set of pictures Avhich 
relate expressly to St. Paul the martyrdom of Stephea 
is, with proper feeling, omitted, and the series generally 
begins with the Coxversiox of Paul, — in his char- 
acter of apostle, the first great event in his life. Axi 
incident so important, so celebrated, and in all its ac- 
cessories so picturesque and dramatic, has of course 
been a frecpient subject of artistic treatment, even as a 
separate composition. In some of the old mosaics, 
the story is very simply, and at the same time vivid". y^ 
rendered. In the earliest examples, St. Paul has iho 
nimbus or glory while yet unconverted ; he is prostrate 
on the ground, grovelling on his hands and knees ; 
rays of light fall upon him out of heaven, Avhcre the 
figure of Christ, half length, is seen emerging from 
glory ; sometimes it is a hand only, which is the em- 
blem of the Almighty Power ; two or four attendants 
at most are flying in terror. It is not said in Scripture 
that St. Paul journeyed on horseback from Jerusalem 
to Damascus ; but the tradition is at least as old as 
the time of Pope Dalmasius (a. d. 384), as it is then 
referred to. St. Augustine says he journeyed on foot, 
because the Pharisees made a point of religion to go 
on foot, and it is so re])resented in the old Greek mo- 
saics. The expression, " It is hard for thee to kick 
against the pricks," has been oddly enough assigned as 

ST. pet;:r axd st. paul. 


a reason for placinq: Paul on liorscback ; * at all events, 
as ho bore a military comnianil, it lias been thouiilit 
pro])er in later times so to represent liim, and also :is 
surrounded by a numerous corteje of attendants. Tliis 
treatment admits, of eourse, of endless variety, in the 
disposition and number of the fi:;ures, in tlie attitudes 
and expression ; but the moment ehosen is generally 
the same. 

1. The oldest example I can cite, next to the Greek 
mosaics, is an old Italian print )nentione(l by Zani. 
Paul, habited as a Roman warrior, kneels with his arms 
crossed on his breast, and holdin"^ a scroll, on whicli is 
inscribed in Latin, " Lord, wliat shall I do ? " CIn-ist 
stands opposite to him, also hoidiiiLf a scroll, on wliich 
is written, " Saul, Saul, wiiy pcrsccutcst thou me ? " 
There are no attendants. Zani does not give the date 
of tliis quaint aiid simjilc version of the story. 

2. Rapliael. Paul, ha!)ited as a Roman soldier, is 
lying on the ground, as tlirowu from his horse ; he lo<jks 
upward to Clirist, who appears in the clouds, attended 
by three child-angels : his attendants on foot and on 
horseback are represented as rushing to his assistance, 
un(ons;-ious of tlie vision, but panic struck by iis ctlect 
on kirn : one attendant in the background seizes by the 
bridle the terrified horse. The original cartoon of this 
fine composition (one of the tapestries in the Vatican) 
is lost.- 

3. Michael Angelo. Paul, a noble figure, though 
prostrate, appears to be struck motionless and sense- 
less : Christ seems to be rushiin/ down from Iieaven 
surrounded by a iiost of angels ; those of the attend- 
ants w!io are near to Paul are flying in all directions, 
wliile a long train of soldiers is seen ascendinir from 
the background. Tliis grand dramatic composition 
forms the i)endant to the Crucifixion of Peter in tlie 
Capella Paolina. It is so darkened by age and ti-.e 
smoke of tapers, and so ill lighted, that it is not easily 

* V. Zani. Enc. delle Belle Arti. 


made out ; but there is a fine engraving, which may be 

4. Another vcrv celebrated composition of this sub- 
ject is that of Eubens.* Paul, lying in the foreground, 
expresses in his attitude the most helpless and grovel- 
ling prostration. The attendants appear very literally 
frightened out of their senses ; and the gray l;orse 
snorting and rearing behind is the finest part of the 
picture : as is usual with Ivubens, the cfiecls of physi- 
cal fear and amazement are given with the utmost 
spirit and truth ; but the Scriptural dignity, the super- 
natural terrors of the subject, are ill expressed, and the 
apostle himself is degraded. To go a step lower, Cuyp 
has given us a Conversion of St. Paul apparently for 
the sole purpose of introducing liorses in difiercnt atti- 
tudes : the favorite dapple-gray cliarger is seen bound- 
ing off in terror ; no one looks at St. Paul, still less to 
Christ above, — but the horses are admirable. 

5. In Albert Diirer's print, a shower of stones is fall- 
ing from heaven on St. Paul and his company. 

6. There is a very curious and unusual version of 
this subject in a rare print by Lucas van Leyden. It 
is a composition of numerous figures. St. Paul is seen, 
blind and bewildered, led between two men ; another 
man leads his frightened charger ; several warriors and 
horsemen follow, and the whole procession seems to be 
proceeding slowly to the right. In the far distanc e is 
represented the ])rcvious moment, — Paul struck down 
and blinded by the celestial vision. 

" Paul, after liis conversion, restored to sight by 
Ananias," as a sejjarate subject, seldom occurs; but it 
has been treated in the later schools by Vasari, by 
Cavallucci, and by P. Cortona. 

" The Jews flagellate Paul and Silas " ; I know but 
one jncture of this subject, that of Kico!o Poussin : the 
angry Jews are seen driving them ibrih with scourges j 

* In the gallery of Mr. Miles, at Leigh Court. 


ths EMvjrs, who have condemneil them, arc seated in 
council hehind : as we niiirht expect from tlie diaracter 
otToussiii, the dii;niiv of tiic apostles is maiutaiucd, — 
but it is uot one of his best pictures. 

" Paul, after his conversion, escapes from Damas- 
cus " ; lie is let down in a basket (Acts ix. 25) : the 
im-iderit forms, of course, one of the scenes in his life 
wiiyn exiiibitcd in a series, but I remember no separate 
picture of this subject, and the situation is so ludicrous 
and so deroicatorv that we can understand how it came 
to be avoided. 

" The ecstatic vision of St. Paul, in which he waa 
cau;^ht up to the third heaven." (2 Cor. xii. 2.) Paul, 
wlio so frequently and familiarly speaks of angels, in 
describing this event makes no mention of them, but in 
pictures he is represented as borne upwards by angels. 
1 find no early composition of this subject. The 
s:n.ill picture of Domenichino is coldly conceived. 
Poussin has painted the " Ravissemcnt de St. Paul " 
twice ; in the first, the apostle is borne upon the arms 
of four angels, and in the second he is sustained by 
three angels. In rendering this ecstatic vision, the 
angels, always allowable as machinery, have here a 
particular propriety ; Paul is elevated only a few feet 
above the roof of his house, where lie his sword and 
book. H.'re the sword serves to distinguish the per- 
sonage ; and the roof of the house shows us that it is a 
vision, and uot an apotheosis. Both pictures are in the 

" Paul preaching to the converts at Ephesns." In a 
beautiful liaffaelesque composition by Le iSueur, the 
incident of the magicians brin<;inir their l)Ooks of sor- 
cery and burning tliem at the feet of the apostle is well 
introduced. It was long the custom to exhibit this 
picture solemnly in Xotre Dame every year on the 1st 
of Mav. It is now in the Louvi-e. 


" Paul before Felix," and " Paul before Agrippa." 
Neitlier of these subjects has ever been adequately 
treated. It is to me inconceivaljlc tliat tiie old masters 
so compIetL'ly overlooked tlie opportunity for praud 
characteristic delineation afforded by both these scenes, 
the latter especially. Perhaps, in estimating its capa- 
bilities, Avc are misled by the effect produced on the 
imagination by the splendid eloquence of the iqsosile ; 
yet, were another Tvaphael to arise, I would suggest the 
subject as a pendant to the St. Paul at Athens. 

" Paul performs miracles before the Emperor Xero " ; 
a blind man, a sick child, and a possessed woman are 
brought to him to be healed. This, though a legendary 
rather than a Scriptural subject, has been treated by Le 
Sueur with Scriptural dignity and simpdieity." 

« The martyrdom of St. Paul " is sometimes a sepa- 
rate subject, but generally it is the pendant to tlie 
martyrdom of St. Peter. According to the received 
tradition, the two apostles suffered at the same time, 
but in different places ; for St. Paul, being by birth a 
Roman citizen, escaped the ignominy of tlie public ex- 
posure in the Circus, as well as the prolonged torture 
of the cross. He was beheaded by the sword outside 
the Ostian gate, about two miles from Eome, at a place 
called the Aqua Salvias, now the " Tre Pontane." 
Tlie legend of the death of St. Paul relates that a cer- 
tain Roman matron named Plautilla, one of the con- 
verts of St. Peter, placed herself on the road by wliich 
St. Paul passed to his martyrdom, in order to behold 
him for the last time ; and wlien she saw liim, slie 
wept greatly, and besought l:is blessing. The apostle 
then, seeing her faith, turned to her and begged that 
she would give him her veil to bind his eyes when he 
should be beheaded, promising to return it to her after 
])is death. Tlie attendants mocked at sucli a promise, 
but Plautilla, Avith a woman's faith and charity, taking 
off" her veil, presented it to him. After his martyrdom, 
St. Paul appeared to her, and restored the veil siained 

ST. p::t;::i axd st. paul. -25 

with his blood. It is also related, that when he was 
d3-apitated the severed head made three bounds upon 
the earth, and wherever it touched the ground a foun- 
tain spranjj forth. 

In tha most ancient representations of tlie martyrdom 
of St. Paul, t!i3 le:4end of Plautilla is seldom omitted. 
In the picture of Giotto preserved in t!ie sacristy of St. 
Peter's, Plaurilla is seen on an eminence in the back- 
ground, r>3.-eivini^ the veil from tlie hand of Paul, wlio 
appears in tlie clouJs above ; tlie same representation, 
but little varicl, is executed in bas-relief on the bronze 
doors of St. Peter's. Tlie three fountains gushing; up 
beneath the severed head are also fretiucutly represented 
as a literal fact, though a manifest and beautiful alle- 
gory, figurative of the fountains of Cliristiau faith 
wliiiih should sprint: fortli froiu his martvrdoin. 

In all the melancholy vicinity of Rome, there is not 
a m')re mjlan:;lioly spot than the " Tre Fontane." A 
spleilid injnastery, rich with tlie off^rin-s of all 
C.iristen loni, once existc I there : the ravages of tliac 
mysterious scoui-ge of the Camjxij;na, the malaria, have 
revL'red it a desert ; three ancient cimrchcs ami some 
ruins still exist, and a few pale monks wander a!)Oiit 
the swampy dismal confines of tlie hollow in whicli 
they stand. In winter you approach them throui^h 
a qu.ig:nirc ; in summer you dare not breathe in 
their pestilential vicinity ; and yet there is a sort of 
dill be.iury about the i)lace, soinething hallowed as 
wjil as sad, wliich seizes on the fancy. In the cliurch 
properly called " San Paolo delle Tre Fontane," and 
whi;:h is so old that the date of the foundation is un- 
known, are three chapels with altars raised over as 
many wells or fountains ; the altars are modern, and 
have each the head of St. Paul carved in relief. Tb.o 
water, wliich appeared to me exactly the same in all 
t!ie three fountains, has a sofc insipid taste, ncillier 
refreshinu nor agreealile. The ancient frescos have 
perished, and the modern ones are perisiiing. It is a 
melancholy spot. 



To return, however, to that event which has rendered 
it for a.ires consecrated and memorahle. Among the 
many rej)resentations of tlie decollation of JSt. Fi.ul 
wliicli cxisc ill sculpiurc and in painiinp-, I l:ave i.ot 
met wiili one which (ould take a hi^h ])!a(e as a work 
of art, or w;iich has done jusiice to the tragic capahili- 
ties of t!ie suNjcct. 

Alter his niariyrdom tlie body of St. Paul was in- 
terred on a sjjot between the Ostii\n <.ate ai:d the Aqua 
Salvias, and there the magnilitcnt clurili known 
as San Viiolo-fuori-le-miira. I saw this churdi a few 
months hefbre it was consumed hy fire in 1823 ; I saw 
it aaain in 1847, when the icsloration was far advanced. 
Its cold ma,i:nificence, compared wiili the impressions 
left by the former structure, ridi wiili ineslimalile re- 
mains of ancient art, and venerable from a thousand 
associations, saddened and chilled me. 

The mosaics in tlie old church, which represented 
the life and actions of St. Paul, were cxe(Ulcd by the 
Greek mosaic masters of the eleventh century. 
appear to have comprised tlic same subjects which siiil 
exist as a series in the duirch of Monreale near Pa- 
lermo, and which I shall now describe. 

1. Saul is sent by the high-])riest to Damascus. 
Two priests are seated on a raised throne in liont of 
the Temple; Saul stands before them. 

2. The Conversion of Saul, as already described. 

3. Saul, being blind, is led by his attendants to the 
gate of Damascus. 

4. Saul seated. Ananias enters and addresses l;im. 

5. Paul is bajnized : lie is standing, or rall'.cr sluing, 
in a font, wliich is a large vase, and not much larger 
in ])ro;)or>ion than a ])nnch-l)Owl. 

G. Sl-. Paul disputes with the Jews. His attitude is 
vehement and cxi)rcssivc : throe Jewish doctors stand 
before \.\v.\ as if confounded and put to silence by his 
eloquent reasoning. 

7. St. Paul escapes from Damascus ; the basket, in 
which he is lowered down from a parapet, is about tlie 
size of a hand-basket. 


8. St. Paul delivers a scroll to Timothy and Silas ; 
he consip:ns to their direction the dcavoiis that Avcrc or- 
daineil hv tlie apostles and elders. (Arts xvi. 4 ) 

9. Si. Paul aud St. Peter meet at Koine, and em- 
brace with brotherly affociion. I helievc t'lis sul)jc t 
to represent the reconciliation of the two apostles ai'icr 
thii dispute at Antio!.-h. The inscription is, IIlc Paulus 
veiiit. Rotnnin et pacein ficit cum Petro. (In the Chris- 
tian Muieum in the Vatican there is a most beautiful 
sm.ill Greek picture in wliieh Peter and Paul are em- 
bravin;:^ ; it m;iy I'cpresent the reconciliation or the 
p.\rLin:^ : the heads, though minute, arc extremely 

10. The decollation of St. Paul at the Aqua Sal- 
vias ; one fountain only is introduced. 

Tins is the earliest instance I can quote of the di'a- 
matic treatment of the life and actions of St. Paul ia 
a series of subjects. The Greek type of the head of 
St. Paul is retained throu;j:hout, stronuly individualized, 
and he appears as a man of about thiriy-livc or forty. 
In the later schools of art, which afford some celebrated 
examples of the life of St. Paul treated as scries, the 
Greek type has been abandoned. 

The series by Raphael, executed for the tapestries 
of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, consists of live 
larg;e and seven small compositions. 

1. The conversion of Saul, already described: the 
cartoon is lost. 2. Elymas the sorcerer struck blind : 
wonderful for dramatic power. 3. St. Paul and Bar- 
nabas at Lysrra. -t. Paul preaching at Athens. Of these 
tln-ee magniticent compositions we have the cartoons at 
Hampton Cowt. 5. St. Paul in prison at Pliiiippi. 
Tiie earthquake throu^li which he was liberated is here 
represented allegorically as a Titan in the lower corner 
of the picture, with shoulders and arms lieaving: up the 
earth. This, which strikes us as rather paa:an in con- 
ception, has, however, a parallel in vbe earliest Chris- 
tian Art, where, in the bapvism of Christ, the Jordan 
is sometimes represented by u . lassical ri'"^r-o:od, sedge- 
crowned, and leaning on h'* nrn. 


The seven small subjects, which in the set of tapes- 
tries run underneath as borders to the large comijosi- 
tions, are thus arranged ; 

1. "As for Saul, he made bavoc of the cljurcli, en- 
tering into every iiouse, and baling men and women 
couiniitted them to ])rifton." (Acts viii. 3.) At one 
end of a long narrow comi>osition Saul is seated in the 
dress of a Eoman wariior, and attended \\ a lictor ; 
tliev bring l)efore him a Christian vonth ; farther on 
arc seen soldiers " haling men and women " by the 
liair ; others flee in terror. This was erroneously sup- 
posed to represent the massacre at Prato, in 1512, by 
the adherents of the Medici, and is so inscribed in the 
set of engravings by Bartoli and Landon. 

2. Jo!m and Mark taking leave of the brethren at 
Perga in Pamphylia. (Acts xiii. 3.) 

3. Paul, teaching in the synagogue at Antioch, con- 
founds the Jews, (Acts xviii. 3.) 

4. Paul at Corinth engaged in tent-making with his 
host. This is an uncommon sul>ject, but I remember 
another instance in a curious old German print, where, 
in the lower part of the composition, the apostle is 
teaching or preaching ; and above there is a kind of 
gallery or balcony, in which he is seen working at a 
loom : " You your.selves know that these hands have 
ministered to my necessities, laboring night and day, 
because we would not be chargeable unto you." (Acts 
xviii. G.) 

5. Being at Corinth, he is mocked by the Jews. 
(Acts viii. 12.) 

G. He lays his hand on the Christian converts. 
7. lie is brought before the judgmeut-seat of Gal- 

" Paul, in tb.e island of Melita, shaking the viper 
from his hand," is not a common subject, and yet it 

* Those who consult the engravings by Santi Bartoli and Lan- 
don must bear in mind that almost all the references are errone- 
ous. See Passavant's Rafael, ii. 245. 

rr. rr.Tr.n axd st. pai'l. 129 

is capable of tlie finest picturesque and dramatic ef- 
fects : the storm and shipwreck in the background, 
the anffry heavens above, the red fir.eli<;ht, the poup 
of astonished mariners, and, pre-eminent amon^r them, 
the calm intellectual fi;:ure of the apo.stlc sliakini; the 
venomous beast from his hand, — these are surely licau- 
tiful and availal)le materials for a scenic picture. Even 
if treated as an alle;;ory in a devotional sense, a sini^lc 
majestic fi_nirc, throwinj^ the evil thin;^ innocuous from 
liim, which 1 have not yet seen, it would be an excel- 
lent and a sijxnificant subject. The little picture by 
Elzhcimer is the best example I can cite of the pictu- 
resque treatment. That of Le Sueur has mu^h dig- 
nity ; those of Teriuo del Vaga, Thornhill, West, arc 
all commonplace. 

Thornhill, as everybody knows, painted the eight 
principal scenes of the life of the apostle in the cupola 
of St. Paul's.* Few people, I shoulil think, have 
strained their necks to exaniine them ; the eight origi- 
nal studies, small sketches en grisaille, are preserved in 
the vestry, and display that heartless, mindless, man- 
nered mediocrity, which makes all criticism foolishness; 
I shall, however, give a list of the sulijects. 

1. Paul and Biirnabas at Lystra. 2. Paul preaching 
at Athens. 3. Elymas struck blind. 4. The converts 
burn their magical books. 5. Paul before Festus. 6. A 
woman seated at his feet ; I presume the Conversion 
of Lydia of Thyatira. 7. Paul let down in a basket. 
8. He shakes the viper from his hand. 

At the time that Thornhill was covering the cupola 
at "the rate of 2/. the square yard," Hogarth, his son- 
in-law, would also try his hand. He painted " St. Paul 
pleading before Felix " for Lincoln's Inn Hall ; where 
the subject, at least, is appropriate. The picture itself 
is curiously characteristic, not of the scene or of the 

* The clergy who permitted Sir James Thornhill to paint the 
cupola of St. Paul's with Scripture scenes refused to admit anj 
other paintings into the church. Perhaps they were justified : 
but not by the plea of Bishop Terrick, — the fear of idolatry. 


chief personajre, but of the painter. St. Paul loaded 
with chains, and his accuser TertuUus, stand in front ; 
and Felix, with his wife Drusilla, are seated on a raised 
tri!)U!ial in the background ; near Felix is the bigh- 
priest Ananias. The composition is pood. The licads 
are full of vivid expression, — wrath, terror, doubt, 
fixed attention ; but the conception of character most 
i;rnol)lc and commonplace. Hogarth was more at 
home when he took the same subject as a vehicle for a 
witty caricature of the Dutch nu\nner of treating sa- 
cred su!»jects, — their ludicrous anacbionisms and mcani 
incidents. St. Paul, in allusion to his low stature, is 
mounted on a stool ; an an^el is sawing throu;^h one 
leg of it ; TertuUus is a barrister, in wig, band, and 
gown ; the judge is like an old, doting justice of 
peace, and his attendants like old beggars. 

In the Florentine Gallery there is a very curious 
series of the lives of St. Peter ar,d St. Paul in ci.ulit 
pictures, in the genuine old German style ; fanciful, 
animated, full of natural and dramatic expression, and 
exquisitely finished, — but dry, hard, grotesque, and 
abounding in anachronisms.* 

Among the few separate historical subjects in which 
St. Peter and St. Paul are represented together, the 
most important is the dispute at Aniioch, — a subject 
avoided by the earliest painters. St. Paul says, " When 
Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to tie face, 
b3cause he was to be blamed." Guido's picture in the 
Brera at Milan is celebrated : Peter is seated, looking 
thoughtful, with downcast eyes, an open book on his 
knees ; Paul, in an attitude of rebuke, stands over 
against him. There is another example by Kosso : 
here both are standing ; Peter is looking down ; Paul, 
Avith long hair and beard floating back, and a keen 
reproving expression, " rebukes him to his face." I 

* This series, the most important work of the painter, Hans 
Schaufelain, is not mentioned iu Kugler's Handbook It is en- 
graved ii outline in the New Florence Gallery, published in 1837. 


presume the same sulycct to be reprcsentefl liy Lucas 
van Leydeii iu a rare and bcauiiful little ])riiit, iu 
Aviiiili St. Peter and St. Paid are treated together in 
earnest conversation. St. Peter holds a /cei/ in ids ri;;Iit 
hand, and jwints Avith the other to a hook winch lies on 
liis knees. St. Paul is about to turn the leaf, and his 
riiilit hand aj)poars to rebuke St. Peter : his left foot is 
on the sivord which lies at his feet. 

" The Parting; of St. Peter and St. Paul before they 
arc led to death." Tiic scene is witlioui; tlie «.',atcvs of 
Rome ; and as the soldiers drai; Peter away, he turns 
back to Paul with a i)atlietic expression. This i)icture, 
now in the Louvre, is ouc of Lan franco's best composi- 

When tlic crucifixion of St. Peter and the decolla- 
tion of St. Paul are represented to^rether in the sanje 
picture, such a picture must be considered as rcli^^ious 
and devotional, tiot historical ; it does not express the 
action as it really occurred, but, like many j)icinres of 
the crucifixion of our Saviour, it is placed before us as 
nn excitement to piety, self-sacrifice, and repentance. 
AVe have this kind of treatment in a picture l)y >>iccol6 
deir Abate : t St. Paul kneels before a block, and the 
lieadsnian stands with sword uplifted in act to strike ; 
in the backu:round, two other executioners grasp St. 
Peter, who is kneeling on his cross, and praying fer- 
vently : above, in a glory, is seen the Virgin ; in her 
arms t!ie Infant Christ, who delivers to two angels 
pahn-branclies for the martyred saints. The genius of 
Niccolb was not precisely fitted for this class of subjects. 
But the composition is full of poetical feeling. The 
introduction of the JNIadonna and Child stamps t!ie 
character of the ])icture as devotional, not hisrorital, — 
it would otherwise be repulsive, and out of keeping 
■with the suijject. 

* "St. Paul prevents his jailer from killing himself" (Acts 
xvi.) has been latt'ly painted bj' Claude Halle, and is now in the 
Louvre. (Ecole Fran^aise, 2S3.) 

t In the Dresden Gal., 821. 


There is a Martyrdom of St. Peter and St. Paul en- 
{rravcd aficr Parmiuiano,* which I shall notice on 
account of irs careless and erroneous treatment. They 
are put to death to.ucther ; an executioner prepares to 
decajjitaie St. Peter, and another drags St. Paul by the 
beard : the incidents arc historically false, and, more- 
over, iu a degraded and secular taste. These are the 
mistakes that make us turn disgusted from the tcchni- 
cai facility, elegance, and power of the sixteenth cen- 
tury, to the simplicity and reverential truth of the 

There are various traditions concerning the relics of 
St. Peter and St, Paul. According; to some, the bodies 
of the two apostles were, in the reign of Heliogabalus, 
deposited by the Christian converts in the catacombs 
of Rome, and were laid in the same sepulchre. After 
the lapse of about two hundred years, the Greek or 
Oriental Christians attempted to carry them off; but 
were opposed by the Roman Christians. The Romans 
conquered ; and the two bodies were transported to the 
church of the Vatican, where they reposed together in a 
magnificent shrine, beneath the church. Among the 
engravings in the work of Ciampini and Bosio are two 
rude old pictui-es commemorating this event. The first 
represents the combat of the Orientals and the Romans 
for the bodies of the Saints ; in the otlier, the bodies 
are deposited in the Vatican. In these two ancient 
veprcsentations, which Avere placed in the portico of the 
old basilica of St. Peter, the traditional types may be 
recognized, — ihe broad, full features, short, curled beard, 
and i)ald head of St. Peter, and the oval face and long 
beard of St. Paul. 

Here I must conclude this summary of the lives and 
characters of the two greatest apostles, as they have 
been exhibited in Christian Art ; to do justice to the 
theme would have required a separate volume. One 

* Bai'tsch, vii. 79. 

ST. pi:ti:r axd st. faul. 233 

oSservation, however, suir.ircsts itself, and cannot be 
passed over. The usual ty])e of tlie head of St. Peter, often ill rendered and de;rraded liy coarsenes^s, 
can ia g:eneral be reeo;riuzed as characteristic ; but is 
tliere amonj^ the thousand representations of the Apostle 
Paul one on which the ima.^'ination can rest conipieie'y 
satisfied ? I know not one. No dou')t tlic suliliniest 
iileal of enibo.lied eloquene-c that ever was expressed in 
Art is Kaphael's St. Paul preaching' at Athens. lie 
stands there the delegated voice of tlic true God, the 
antagonist and conqueror of the whole heathen world : 
" WJiom ye i;^morantly worship, IIiM declare I unto 
you," — is not this wliat he says ? Every feature, nay, 
every fold in his drapery, speaks ; as in the other St. 
Paul leanini^ on his sword (in the famous St. Cecilia), 
every feature and every fold of drapery meditates. 
The latter is as fine in its tranquil, melancholy jrrand- 
cur as the former in its authoritative energy : in the 
one the orator, in the other the pliilosopher, were never 
more finely rendered : but is it, in either, the Paul of 
Tarsus whom we know? It were certainly l)oth un- 
necessary and pedantic to adhere so closely to historic 
fact as to make St. Paul of diminutive stature and St. 
Peter weak-eyed : but has Raphael done well in wholly 
rejeeting the traditional portrait which reflected to us 
the Paul of Sc'ripture, the Tuau of many toils and many 
sorrows, wasted with vigils, worn down with travel, — 
wliose high, bald forehead, thin, flowing hair, and long, 
pointed beard, spoke so plainly the fervent and in- 
doniitahb, yet meditative and delicate, organization, — 
and in substituting this Jupiter Ammou head, with tlie 
dark, redundant hair, almost hiding the brow, and the 
full, bushy beard 1 This is one of the instances in 
wliicli llaphael, in yielding to the fashion of his time, 
has erred, as it seems to me, — though I say it with all 
reverence ! Tlic St. Paul rending his gai-ments at 
LysU-a, and rejecting the sacrifice of the misguided 
people, is more particularly false as to the character of 
the man, tiiougii otherwise so grandly expressive, that 


we arc obliged to admire what our better sense — our 
conscience — cannot wholly approve. 

I shall now consider the rest of the apostles in their 
proper order. 

St. Andrew. 

Lat. S. Andreas. Ital. Sant' Anflrca. Fr. St. Anflr6. Patron 
saint of Scotland and of llussia. Nov. 30, A. D. 70. 

St. Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter, and 
the lirst who was called to the a])Ostleship. Kothing 
further is recorded of him in Scripture : he is after- 
wards merely included by name in the general account 
of the apostles. 

In the traditional and lecrendary history of St. An- 
drew we are told, that, after our Lord's ascension, when 
the apostles dispersed to jireach the Gospel to all na- 
tions, St. Andrew travelled into Scythia, Cappadocia, 
and Bith.ynia, everywhere converting multitudes to the 
faith. The Russians believe that he was the first to 
preach to the Muscovites in Sarmatia, and thence he 
has been honored as titular saint of tlie empire of 
Russia. After many sufferings, lie returned to Jeru- 
salem, and thence travelled into Greece, and came at 
length to a city of Achaia, called Palras. Here he 
made many converts ; among others, Maximilla, the 
wife of the proconsul ^geus, whom he persuaded to 
make a pul/lic profession of Christianity. The pro- 
consul, enraged, commanded him to be seized and 
scourged, and then crucified. The cross on which he 
suffc'red was of a peculiar form {crvx dtcussaia), since 
called the St. Andrew's cross ; and it is expressly said 
tliat he was not fastened to his cross with nails, but 
with cords, — a circumsstance ahvavs attended to in the 
rc])resentations of his death. It is, however, to be re- 
membei'ed, tliat, while all authorities agree tliat he was 
crucified, and that the manner of liis crucifixion was 
peculiar, they ai'e not agreed as to the form of his 

ST. AX DREW. 235 

cross. St. Peter Chrvsolo£ros says that it was a tree : 
anotlicr author affirmd tiiat it was an olivc-trcc. Tlic 
AM)C Mery rcmark.s, tluit it is a mistake to jiivo tlie 
transverse cross to St. Andrew ; th:it it ou.^ht not to 
dliTor from the cross of our Lord. His reasons are not 
a'.)so!uLely conclu.sive : " II suffit pour montrer qu'ils 
sont lailcssus dans I'erreur, de Aoir la cwix ve'ritalde de 
St. Andre', conserve'^ dans I'Ejilise de St. Victor du 
Marseille ; 0:1 trouvera (ju'elle est a ano:les droits," 
&:•. * Seeinr? is believing; ; nevertheless, the form is 
fixed by tradition and usaj;e, and cuirht not to be 
doparted from, t!iou;i;h Michael AuljcIo has done so in 
tho li^ure of St. Andrew in the Last Judj;-mcnt, and 
there are several examples in the Italian masters.t 
The lc;;eud goes on to relate, that St. Andrew, on ap- 
proaching^ the cross prepared for his execution, saluted 
and adored it on his knees, as hcini;- already consecrated 
by the sutforinixs of the R'.'deemcr, and met liis death 
triumpliantly. Certain of his relics were brou^rht from 
Patras to Scotland in the fourth century, and since that 
time St. Andrew has been jionorcd as the patron saint 
of Scotland, and of its chief order of knijrhthood. lie 
is also the patron saint of the famous Buri^undian 
Order, t'.ie Golden Fleece ; and of Russia and its chief 
Order, the Cross of St. Andrew. 

Since the fourteenth century, St. Andrew is gen- 
erally distinguislied in works of art by t'ae transverse 
cross ; t'le devotional pictures in which he figures as 
on3 of the series of apostles, or singly as i)atrou saint, 
represent him as a very old man with some kind of 
brotlierly reserahlance to St. Peter ; liis hair and beard 
silver white, long, loose, and flowing, and in general 
the beard is divided ; he leans upon his cross, and 
holds the Gospel in his right hand. 

* Theologie des Paintres. 

t In several ancient pictures and bas-reliefs the cross has the 
usual form, but he is not nailed, — always bound with cords, as in 
the ancient bas-relief over the portal of his church at Vercelll. 


The liistorical subjects from the life of St. Andrew, 
treated separately from the rest of the apostles, 
very few : liis crucifixion is the onlv one that 1 have 
found treated before the fifteenth century. 0\\ the 
ancient doors of San Paolo, the instrument of Lis 
martyrdom has the shape of a Y, ai:d resembles a 
tree split down the middle. The cross in some later 
pictures is very lofty, and resembles the rough branches 
of a tree laid transversely. 

I know but two other subjects relating to ll:e life of 
St. Andrew which have been sci)aralely treated in the 
later schools of art, — the Adoration of the Cross, and 
the Flagellation. 

" St. Andrew adoring his cross," by Andrea Sacchi, 
is remarkable for its simplicity and fine expression , it 
contains only three figures. St. Andrew, half undra])cd, 
and with his silver hair and beard floating dishevelkd, 
kneels, gazing up to the cross with ecstatic devotion ; 
he is addressing to it his famous invocation, — " Salve, 
Croce preziosa ! die fosti consecrata dal corjjo del mio 
Dio ! " — an executioner stands by, and a fierce soldier, 
impatient of delay, urges him on to death.* 

" St. Andrew taken down from the cross " is a fine 
effective picture by Ribera.t 

When Guido and Domenichino painted, in cmul* 
tion of each other, the frescos in the chapel of Sant' 
Andrea in the church of San Grcgorio, at Home, Guido 
cho-se for his subject the Adoration of (he Cross. The 
scene is supposed to be outside the walls of Patras in 
Achaia ; tlie cross is at a distance in the background ; 
St. Andrew, as he approaches, falls down in adoration 
before the instrument of his martyrdom, consecrated 
by the death of his Lord ; he is attended by one sol- 
dier on horseback, one on foot, and three executioners ; 
a group of women and alarmed children in the fore- 
ground are admirable for grace and feeling, — they nre, 
in fact, the best part of the picture. On the opposite 

* Gallery of the Tatican. t Munich, 363. 



wall of the chapel Domenirhino painted the^FIagclla- 
tion of St. Andrew, a suhject most difficult to treat 
effjc'tively, and retain at the same time the di>;nity of 
tlie sufforin^: ajjostie, while av()i<lin,:,^ all resemMamc to 
a similar scene in the life of Ciu-ist. Here he is hound 
down on a sort of table ; one man lifts a rod, anotiicr 
seems to taunt tlic ])rostratc saint ; a lictor drives hack 
tlie people. The <rroup of t!ic motlier and fri;:hteneil 
children, wliieh Doinenichino so oficn introduces with 
little variation, is here very beautiful ; the judj^e and 
lictors are seen behind, with a temple and a city in the 
distance. Wlien Domenichino painted the same sul)- 
ject in the church of Sant' Andrca-dclla-Valle, lie chose 
another moment, and administered the torture after a 
dilForent manner : the apostle is bound by his hands 
and feet to four short posts set firmly in the ground ; 
one of the executioners in tightening a cord breaks it 
and falls back; three men prepare to scourge him with 
thonjs : in the foreground we have the usual group of 
the motlier and her frightened children. This is a 
composition full of dramatic life and movement, Itut 
unpleasing. Domenichino painted in the same church 
the crucifixion of the saint, and his aiX)theosis sur- 
mounts the wliole. 

All these compositions are of great celelmty in the 
history of Art for color and for expression. Laiizi 
says, that the personages' " if endued with speech, 
could not say more to the car than they do to the 
eye." Bat, in poster and pathos, none of them equal 
the pi'-ture of Murillo, of which we have the original 
stuly in England.* Sr. Andrew is suspended on t'.ie 
liigh cross, formed, not of plaidcs, but of the trunks 
of tre33 laid transversely. He is bound with cords, 
un lrap2;l, except by a linen cloth ; his silver hair and 
beard loosely streaming in the air ; his aged counte- 
nance illuminated l)y a heavenly transport, as he looks 
up to the opening skies, whence two angels of really 
celestial beauty, like almost all Murillo's angels, de- 

* In the collection of Mr. Miles at Leigh Court. 


sceiid wi^i tlic crown and palm. In front, to the right, 
is a group of shrinking sympathizing women ; and a 
boy turns away, crying witli a truly boyish grief; on 
the left are guards and soldiers. The sulject is here 
rendered poetical by mere foivc of feeling ; there is a 
tragic reality in the whole scene, far more cffeciivc to 
my taste tlian the more studied compositions of the 
lialian painters. The martyrdom of St. Andrew, and 
the saint preaching the Gospel, by Juan de Roelas, are 
also mentioned as splendid productions of the Seville 

I think it possible that St. Andrew may owe his 
popularity in the Spanish and Flemish schools of art 
to his being the patron saint of the far-famed Burgun- 
dian Order of the Golden Fleece. At the time that 
Constantinople was taken, and the relics of St. Andrew 
dispersed in consequence, a lively enthusiasm for this 
apostle was excited throughout all Christendom. He 
had been previously honored chiefly as the brother of 
St. Peter ; he obtained thenceforth a kind of personal 
interest and consideration. Philip of Burgundy (a. d. 
1433), who had obtained at great cost a portion of the 
precious relics, consisting chiefly of some ])ieces of his 
cross, i)laced under the protection of the apostle his 
new order of chivalry, wliicli, accordir.g to the pream- 
ble, was intended to revive the honor and tlic memory 
of the Argonauts. His knights wore as their budge 
the cross of St. Andrew. 

St. James the Great. 

Lat. Sanctus Jacobus Major. Ital. San Giacomn, or Jacopn, 5Iag- 
gioiv. Fr. St. Jacques Majeur. S^a. San Jago, or Saiuiago. 
El Tutelar. Patrou saint of Spain. July 25. A. D. 44. 

St. James the Great, or the Elder, or St. James Ma- 
jor, was nearly related to Christ, and, wiih Lis brother 
Jolni (the Evangelist) and Peter, he seems to have been 
admitted to particular favor, travelled with the Lord, 


and was present at most of the events recorded in the 
Gospels. Hij was one of the three who were permitted 
to witness tlie i;lorili:-ation of C!n-ist on Mount Ta!)or, 
aal one of those w!io slept dunii<; the ajionj ia the 
gard>):i. Afier our Saviour's ascension, nothing is re- 
cordvid concerning hiiu, except tlic fact that Herod slew 
lii;n wiili the sword. In tlie ancient traditions he is 
des.-rijL'd as heing of a zealouj and affectionate tcnii)cr, 
easily excited to anger : of this we liave a particular 
instance in his imprecation against the inhospitahle Sa- 
maritans, for w'.iicli Christ rehuke I him : " Ye know 
not wliat manner of spirit yc arc of. The Son of man 
is no; come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." 
(Luka ix. 55.) 

As S.'ripture makes no further mention of one so 
distinaiislied by his zeal and bv his near relationsliip 
to tlie Saviour, the legends of the middle ages liavc 
supplied this deiiciency ; and so amply, that St. James, 
as Sl. Jago or Santiago, the military patron of Spain, 
bccam3 one of the most renowned saints in Christen- 
dom, and 0:13 of the most popular sulijects of Western 
Art. Many of these subjects are so singular, that, in 
order to reader tlieni inteUigil)le, I must give the le- 
gen I at full lengtli as it was followed by the artists of 
the fourteentli and fif'ceenth centuries. 

According to tlie Spanish legend, the Apostle James 
■was the son of Zebedee, an illustrious baroa of Galilee, 
who, being the pro;)rietor of ships, was accustomed to 
fish along tlie shores of a certain lake called Gciiesa- 
retli, but solely for his good pleasure and recreation : 
for who can suppose that Spain, that nation of Hidalgos 
and Caballeros, would ever have chosen for he.r patron, 
or accepted as tlic leader and captain-general of her 
ar nics, a poor ignoble fisherman ? It remains, tliere- 
foi-c, i.idisputaVc, that this glorious apostle, who was 
our Lord's cousin-german, was of n()!)le lineage, and 
worthy of his spurs as a knight and a gentlcinaa ; -^ 

so in Dante : 

" Ecco il Bar one 
Per cui laggiii si visita Galizia." 


But it pleased him, in his great humility, to follow, 
while on earth, the example of his divine Lord, and 
reserve his Avarlikc prowess till called upon to slaui:htcr 
hy thousands and tens of thousands, those wicked 
Moors, the perpetual enemies of Cin-ist and his servants. 
Now, as James and his brother John were one day in 
their father's ship with his hired servarsts, and were 
employed in mending the nets, the Lord, who was 
walking on the shores of the lake, called them ; and 
they left all and followed him ; and became thencefor- 
ward his most favored disciples, and the witnesses of 
his miracles while on earth. After the ascension of 
Christ, James preached the Gospel in Judcea ; then he 
travelled over the whole world, and came at last to 
Spain, where he made very few converts, by reason of 
the ignorance and darkness of the people. One day, 
as he stood with his disciples on the banks of the Ebro, 
the blessed Virgin appeared to him seated on the top 
of a pillar of jasper, and surrounded by a choir of 
angels ; and the apostle having thrown himself on his 
fiice, she commanded him to build on that spot a chapel 
for her worship, assuring him that all this province of 
Saragossa, though now in the darkness of paganism, 
would at a future time be distinguished by devotion to 
her. He did as the holy Virgin had commanded, and 
this was the origin of a famous church afterwards known 
as that of Our Lady of the Pillar {" Nuestra SeZora del 
Pillar "). Then St. James, having founded the Chris- 
tian faith in Spain, returned to Judrea, where he preached 
for many years, and performed many wonders and mir- 
acles in the sight of the people : and it happened that 
a certain sorcerer, whose name was Hermogenes,* set 
himself against the apostle, just as Simon Magus had 
wickedly and vainly opposed St. Peter, and with the 
like result. Hermogenes sent his scholar Philetus to 
dispute Avith James, and to compete with him in won- 
drous works ; but, as you will easily believe, he had no 

* Hermogenes was the name of a famous Gnostic teacher and 
philosopher ; thence, I suppose, adopted into this legend. 


chance against the apostle, and, confessinji: himself van- 
qiiished, he returned to liis master, to wliom he an- 
nounced his intention to follow henceforth James and 
his doctrine. Then Ilermogenes, in a rage, bound 
Philetui by iiis diabolical spells, so that he could not 
move hand or foot, saying, " Let us now see if thy 
new master can deliver thee " : and Philetus sent his 
servant to St. James, praying for aid. Then the ai)os- 
tle too!<,otf his cloak, and gave it to the servant to give 
liis master ; and no sooner had Philetus touched it, 
than he became free, and hastened to throw himself at 
the feet of his deliverer. Hcrmogenes, more furious than 
ever, called to the demons who served him, and com- 
manded that they should bring to him Jan)cs and Phi- 
letus, bound in fetters; but on their way the demons 
m^t with a company of angels, who seized upon them, 
and punislied them for their wicked intentions, till they 
cried for in:?r^-y. Then St. James said to them, *' Go 
back to him who sent ye, and bring him hither bound." 
Ami they did so ; and having laid the sorcerer down at 
the feet of St. James, they besought him, saying, '"Now 
give us power to be avenged of our enemy and thine ! " 
But St. James re!)uked them, saying, " Christ hath 
commanded us to do good for evil." So he delivered 
Hermogenes from their hands ; and the magician, being 
utterly confounded, cast his books into the sea, and de- 
sired of St. James that he would protect him against 
the demons, his former servants. Then St. James 
gave him his staff, as the most effectual means of de- 
fence against the infernal spirits ; and Hermogenes 
became a faithful disciple and preacher of the word 
from that day. 

But the evil-minded Jews, being more and more in- 
censed, took James and bound him, and brought him 
before tlie tribunal of Herod Agrippa ; and one of those 
wlio dragged him along, touched by the gentleness of 
his demeanor, and by his miracles of mercy, was con- 
verted, and supplicated to die with him ; and the apos- 
tle gave him the kiss of peace, saying, "Pax vobis!" 


and the kiss and the words together have remained as 
a form of l)enediction in the Chureh to this day. Then 
they were both beheaded, and so died. 

And the disciples of St. James came and took away 
his body ; and, not darintr to bury it, for fear of ilie 
Jews, they carried it to Jo]i])a, and placed it on board 
of a ship : some say that the ship was of marble, but 
this is not authenticated ; however, it is most certain 
that ang-els conducted tlie ship miraculously to the coast 
of Spain, wlierc they arrived in seven days ; and, sail- 
intr throu2:h the straits called the Pillars of Hercules, 
they landed at length in Galicia, at a port called Iria 
Flavia, now Padron. 

In those davs there reigned over the countrv a cer- 
tain queen whose name was Lupa, and she and all her 
people were plunged in wickedness and idolatry. Now, 
having come to shore, they laid the body of the apostle 
upon a great stone, wliich became like wax, and, re- 
ceiving the body, closed around it : this was a sign that 
the saint willed to remain there ; but the wicked queen 
Lupa was displeased, and she commanded that they 
should harness some Avild bulls to a car, and place on 
it the body, with the self-formed tomb, hoping that they 
would drag it to destruction. But in this slie was mis- 
taken ; for the Avild bulls, when signed by the cross, 
became as docile as sheep, and they drew the body of 
the apostle straight into the court of her palace. Wlicn 
Queen Lupa beheld this miracle, she was confounded, 
and she and all her people became Christians. She 
built a magnificent church to receive the sacred re- 
mains, and died in the odor of sanctity. 

But then came the darkness and ruin which during 
the invasion of the Barbarians overshadowed all Sjiaiu ; 
and the body of the apostle was lost, and no one knew 
where to lind it, till, in the year 800, the place of sepul- 
ture was revealed to a certain holy friar. 

Then they caused the body of the saint to be trans- 
ported to Compostella ; and, in consequence of the sur- 
prising miracles which graced his shrine, he was honored 


not merely in Galicia, but throughout all Spain. He 
becam3 the patron saint of the Spaniards, and Coni- 
poitelhi, as a place of pil<;riniaoc, was i-cnowncd 
tlirouiliouL Europe. FroMi all countries bands of pil- 
grims rjsor ted there, so that sometimes there were no 
less a hundred thousand in one year The mili- 
tary Ordjr of Saint Ja.u:o, enrolled by Don Alphonso 
for' their protection, became one of the greatest and 
ricliest in Spain. 

Now, if I should proceed to recount all the wonder- 
ful d^jedi enacted by Santiago in behalf of his chosen 
people, they would till a volume. The Spanish histo- 
rians nu n')or tliirty-eight visil)le apparitions, in which 
this glorious saint des;-ended from heaven in person, 
and took the command of their armies against the 
liloars. Tiie first of these, and the most famous of all, 
I sluill now relate. 

In the year of our Lord 939, King Kamirez, having 
vowed to deliver Castile from the shameful tribute im- 
posed by the Moors, of one Imndred virgins delivered 
annually, collected his troops, uud detied their king 
Abdelraman, to battle ; — 

" The king called Gotl to witness, that, came there weal or woe, 
Thenceforth no maiden trihutj from out Ciisf.b should gj. — 
'At least I will do battle on God our Saviour's foe, 
And die beneath my banner before I see it so ! ' " 

Accordingly he charged the Moorislt host on. the 
plain of Alveida or Clavijo : after a furious conflict, 
the Clu-istians were, by the permissioii of Heaven, de- 
fjated, and for.-ed to retire. Night sei)arated the com- 
batants, and King Ramirez, overpowered with fatigue, 
and sad at heart, flung himself upon his cou h and 
slept. In his sleep he beheld the apostle St. Jago, who 
promised to be witli him next morning in the field, and 
assured him of victory. Tiie king, waking up from 
the glorious vision, sent for his prelates and officers, to 
whom he related it ; and the next morning, at the head 
of his army, he recounted it to his soldiers, bidding 


them rely on lieavenly aid. He then ordered the trum- 
pets to sound to battle. Tlie soldiers, inspired \viih 
fics'i courage, ruslied to the fitiht. Suddenly St. Jj!<:o 
■was seen mounted on a milU-wliitc cliariier, and waving 
aloft a white standard ; he led on tlie Christians, who 
gained a decisive victory, leaving sixty thousand Moors 
dead on the field. Tliis was the famous Ijattle of Cla- 
vijo ; and ever since that day, " Santiago !" has been 
the war-cry of the Spanish armies. 

But it was not only on such great occasions that the 
invincible patron of Spain was pleased to exhibit his 
power : he condescended oftentimes to interfere for the 
protection of the ]ioor and oppressed ; of wliich I will 
now give a notable instance, as it is related by Pope 
Calixtus II. 

There was a certain German, who with his wife and 
son went on a pilgrimage to St. James of Compostella. 
Having come as far as Torlosa, they lodged at an inn 
there ; and the host had a foir daughter, wlio, looking 
on the son of the pilgrim, a handsome and a graceful 
3'outh, became deeply enamored ; but he, being virtu- 
ous, and, moreover, on his way to a lioly shrine, refused 
to listen to her allurements. 

Then she thought hoAv she might be avenged for this 
slight put upon ber charms, and hid in his wallet her 
father's silver drinking-cup. The next morning, no 
sooner were they departed, than the host, discovering 
his loss, pursued them, accused them before the judge, 
and the cup being found in the young man's wallet, 
he was condemned to be hung, and all they possessed 
was confiscated to the host. 

Then the afflicted parents pursued their way lament- 
ing, and made their prayer and their complaint before 
the altar of the blessed Saint Jago ; and thirty-six days 
afierwards as they returned by the sjwt where their son 
hung on the gibbet, they stood beneath it, weeping and 
lamenting bitterly. Then the son spoke and said, " O 
mv mother ! O mv father ! do not lament for me, for 



I have never been in better cheer ; the blessed apostle 
James is at my side, sustaininjr me and filling; mo with 
celestial comfort and joy ! " The parents, beiiiLC asioa- 
iihed, liastened to the judge, who at that moment was 
seated at tahle, and tlie mother called out, " Our son 
lives ! " The jud^e mocked at tliem : " What saycst 
thou, good woman? tliou art beside thyself! If thy 
son lives, so do those fowls in my dish." And lo ! 
scarcely had he uttered the words, when the fowls (be- 
iiii? a cock and a hen) rose up full-feathered, in the 
dish, and the cock bcijan to crow, to the great admira- 
tion of the judge and his attendants.* Then the judge 
rose up from table hastily, and called together the 
priests and the lawyers, and they went in procession to 
the gibbet, took down the young man, and restored 
him to his parents ; and the miraculous cock and hen 
were placed under the protection of the Church, where 
they and their posterity long flourished in testimony of 
this stupendous miracle. 

There are many other legends of St. James ; the 
Spanish chroniclers in prose and verse abound in such; 
but, in general, they are not merely incredible, but 
pujrile and unpoetical ; and I have here conflned my- 
self to those which I know to have been treated in 

Previous to the twelfth century, St. James is only 
distinguished among the apostles by his place, which is 
the fourth in the series, the second after St. Peter and 
St. Paul. In some instances he is portrayed with a 
family resemblance to Christ, being his kinsman ; the 
thiii beard, and the hair parted and flowing down on 
eacii sidiJ. But from the thirteenth centurv it became 
{I fashion to characterize St. James as a pilgrim of 
Compostclla : he bears the peculiar long staff, to which 
the wallet or gourd of water is suspended ; the cloak 
with a long cape, the scollop-shell on his shoulder or 
on his flapi)ed luit. AVhere the cape, hat, and scallop- 
shells are omitted, the staff, borne as the flrst of the 

* V. Southey, " Pilgrim of Compostella." 


apostles who departed to fulfil his Gospel mission, re- 
mains his constant attribute, and by this he may he 
recoj:;nized in the JSIadouna pictures, and when grouped 
with other saints. 

The single devotional fiLnircs of St. James represent 
him in two distinct characters : — 

1. As tutelar saint of lS|iai!i, and conqueror of t^c 
JMoors. In liis ])ilgrim halir, mounted on a w!;iic 
charger, and waving a Avliiie I)anncr, with wliitc hair 
and l)eard streaming like a meteor, — or sometimes 
armed in complete steel, spurred like a knight, his 
casque shadowed by white plumes, — he tramples over 
the jn-ostratc Infidels ; so com])letc!y was th.c humljle, 
gentle-spirited apostle of Christ merged in the sjjirit of 
the religious chivalry of the time. This is a subject 
frequent in Spanish schools. The figure over the high 
altar of Santiago is described as very grand when seen 
in the solemn twilight. 

2. St. James as patron saint in the general sense. 
The most beautiful example I have met with is a i)ic- 
ture in the Florence Gallery, painted by Andrea del 
Sarto for tlie Compagnia or Confraternita of Sant' 
Jacopo, and intended to figure as a standard in their 
processions. The Madonna di San Sisto of Kaphael 
was painted for a similar ])urpose : and such are still 
commonly used in the religious processions in Italy ; 
but they have no longer Raphaels and Andrea-del-Sar- 
tos to paint them. In this instance the jncture has a 
particular form, high and narrow, adapted to its espe- 
cial purpose : St. James wears a green tunic, and a 
rich crimson mantle; and as one of the ])urposes of ti:o 
Comjiagnia Avas to educate poor orphans, they arc rep- 
resented by the two boys at his feet. This jjicturc 
sufiered from the sun and the weather, lo which it had 
been a hundred times exposed in yearly ])roccssions ; 
but it has been avcII restored, ar.d is admiral)le for i.s 
vivid colorins: as well as t!ie benign attitude and ex- 

3. St. James seated ; he holds a large book bound in 


vellum (the Gospels) in his left hand, and with liis 
rij^ht ])()ints to heaven : by Gncrcino, in the jrallerv of 
Count Hirra-h, at Vienna. One of the finest pictures 
by GLi3i\-in;) I have seen. 

Piv-tursi fro:n tlie litb of St. James sintrly, or as a 
ssrici, arc not common ; but amons' those which I'c- 
mvin to us there arc. several of great beauty and in- 

In the series of frescos painted in a side chapel of 
the cluireh of St. Antony of Padua (a. d. 1376), once 
called the Capella di San Giacomo, and now San 
Felice, the old le^,-cnd of St. James has been exactly 
followed ; an I thou;j;li ruined in many i)arts, and in 
others coarsely repainted, these works remain as com- 
positions amongst the most curious monuments of the 
Treccnfis'i. It appears that, towards the year 1376, 
Mjsser Bonifacio de' Lupi da Parma, Cavaliere c 
Mu'chese di Serana, who boasted of his descent from 
the Qa:en Lupa of the le2:cnd, dedicated this chapel to 
Si. Jamis of Spain (San Jacopo di Galizia), and cm- 
ployed M. Jacopo Avanzi to decorate if, who no doubt 
lv3stove;l his best workmanship on his patron sc.iiit. 
Tlie subjects are thus arran<j:ed, berjinning with the 
lunette on the left hand, which is divided into three 
compartmants : — 

1. Herino.2:enes sends Philetus to dispute with St. 
James. 2. St. James in his pulpit converts Pliiletus. 
3. Hjrmo;^enes sends his demons to bind St. James 
an I P.iiletns. 4. Hcnnoicnes broniiht bound to St, 
James. 5. H3 Inirns his books of matric. 6. Hcrmo- 
f^smo ami P.iilctus are conversinuj in a friendly manner 
with St. Jam:!s. 7. St. James is martyred. 8. Tiic 
arrival of his body in Spain in a marble ship steered 
by an an^^el. 9. The disciples lay the body on a rock, 
while Qu3en Lupa and her sister and another personage 
look on from a window in her palace. Then follow 
two compartments on the side where the window is 
broken out, much ruined ; they represented apparently 
the imprisonment of the disciples. 12. The dis- i;»les 


escape and are pursued, and their pursuers with thtir 
horses are drowned. 13. The wild hulls draw llic 
sariophairus into the court of Queen Lupa's palace. 
14. Baptism of Lnpa. 15. and 16. (lower compart- 
ments to the lef. ) : St. Jacro appears to King Ramirez, 
and the defeat of the Moors at Clavijo. 

There is a rare and curious print hy INIartin Schoen, 
in which the apparition of St. James at Clavijo is rep- 
resented, not in the Spanish, hut the German style. It 
is an animated com])osition of many fioures. The saint 
appears on liorseback in the midst, wearinq; his pili^rim's 
dress, with the cockle-shell in his hat : the Infidels are 
trampled down, or fly before liim. 

On the road from Spoleto to Folig-no, about four 
miles from S])oleto, there is a small chapel dedicated lo 
St. James of Galizia. The frescos representing: tlie 
miracles of the saint were painted by Lo Spagna (a. d. 
1526), the friend and fellow-pupil of Raphael. In the 
vault of the apsis is the Coronation of the Virciin ; she 
kneels, attired in white dra]iery flowered with gold, and 
the whole group, though inferior in ])Ower, ajjpcared to 
me in delicacy and taste far superior to the fresco of 
Fra Filippo Lippi at Spoleto, from which Passavant 
thinks it is borrowed.* Immediately under the Coro- 
nation, in the centre, is a figure of St. James as patron 
saint, standing with his pilgrim's staff in one hand and 
the Gospel in the other ; his dress is a yellow tunic with 
a blue mantle thrown over it. In tlie com])artment on 
the left, the youth is seen suspended on the gibbet, while 
St. James with his liands under his feet sustains him ; 
the father and mother look up at him Avith astonish- 
ment. In the compartment to the right, we see the 
judge seated at dinner, attended by his servants, one 
of whom is bringing in a dish : the two pilgrims ap- 
pear to have just told their story, and the cock and hen 
have risen up in the dish. Tbese frescos arc painted 
with great elegance and animation, and the story is 

* Passavant's Rafael, i. 508. 

ST. PHILIP. 249 

told with much naivety. I fonnfl the same IcircTid 
painted on one of the lower windows of the chureli of 
St. Ouen, and on a window of the right-hand aisle ia 
St. Vincent's at Rouen. 

Of St. John', who is the fifih in the. scries, I have 
spoken at large under the liead of the Evangelists. 

St. Philip. 

Ital. San Filippo Apostolo. Fr. Sunt Philippe. Patron of Bra- 
bant and Luxembourg. May 1. 

Of St. Philip there are few notices in the Gospel. He 
was i)orn at Bethsaida, and he was one of the first of 
those who:ii our Lord summoned to follow him. After 
the ascension, he travelled into Scythia, and remained 
there preachinj^ the Gospel for twenty years ; he then 
preached at Hicropolis in Phrygia, where he found the 
people addicted to the worship of a monstrous serpent 
or dragon, or of the god Mars under that form. Tak- 
ing compassion on their blindness, the apostle com- 
manded the serpent, in the name of the cross lie held 
in his hand, to disappear, and immediately the reptile 
glided out from beneath the altar, at the same time 
emitting such a hideous stench that many people died, 
and among them the king's son fell dead in the arms 
of his attendants : but the apostle, by Divine power, 
restored him to life. Then the priests of tlie dragon 
were incensed against him, and they took him, and 
cruL'iiied him, and being bound on the cross they 
stoned him ; thus he yielded up his spirit to God, 
jtraying, like his Divine ^Master, for his enemies and 

According to tlie Scripture, St. Philip had four 
daughters, wlio were proj)hetesses, and made many 
converts to the faith of Christ. (Acts xxi. 9.) In 
the Greek calendar, St. Mariamne, his sister, and 


St. Hermione, liis daughter, are commemorated as 

When St. Philip is represented alone, or as one of 
tlie series of apostles, he is generally a man in the 
prime of life, wiili little heard, and with a henign 
countenance, hcing descrihed as of a rcmarkalily ( 1 ccr- 
ful and alfeciiouatc nature. He hears, as his attriliute, 
a crois, which varies in form ; sometimes it is a small 
cross, wliich he carries in his hand ; sometimes a high 
cross in the form of a T, or a tall staff with a small 
Latin cross at the top of it. The cross of St. Philip 
nuiy have a trehle signification : it may allude to his 
martyrdom ; or to his conquest over tlic idols through 
tlie power of the cross ; or, wlien placed on the top of 
the pilgrim's staff, it may allude to liis mission among 
the l)arl)arians as preacher of the cross of salvation. 
Single figures of St. Philip as patron are not common : 
there is a fine statue of him on the facade of San Mi- 
chele at Florence ; and a noble figure hy Beccafumi, 
reading ; * another, seated and. reading, ly Ulrick 

Subjects from the life of St. Philip, whether as single 
pictures or in a series, are also rarely met with. As 
Ite was the first called hy our Saviour to leave all and 
follow him, and his vocation therefore a festival in the 
Church, it must, I think, have been treated apart ; hut 
I have not met with it. I know but of three historical 
subjects taken from his life: — 

1. Bonifazio. St. Philip stands before the Saviour: 
tlie atiitude of the latter is extremely dignified, that 
of Phiiip supplicatory; the other ajjostles are seen in 
the background : the coloring and expression of tl.e 
whole like Titian. The subject of this splendid pic- 
ture is expressed by the inscription underneath (John 
xiv. 14) : "Domine, ostcnde i.obis Patrcm, ct sufficit 
nobis." " Philippe, qui videt me, vidct ct Pairtra 
meum : ego ct Pater uuum sum us." j 

* Duomo, Siena. t Belvedere, Tienna. 

X Venice Acad. 

ST. PITiL.'P. 25 

2. Sr. Philip exorcises the serpent. The scene is 
the interior of a temple, an alrar with the statue of the 
god Mar.s : a s^rjient, crcej)ing- from heneatli the aliar, 
slays the attendants witli his poisonous and fiery i)re;uli. 
The ancient fresco in his cliapel at Padun, dcscrilicil \)y 
Lord Lindsay, is extreuicly animated, but far inf^-rior 
to the sama subject iu the Santa Croce at Florence i>y 
Fra Filippo Lippi, where the di,u:nitied attitude of tlic 
apostle, and the <iroup of the kind's sou dyini;' in the 
arms of the attendants, are admirably cttLvtive and 
dramatic. St. rhili|), it must be o!;served, Avas tlie 
patron saint of the ])aintcr. 

8. The Crucifixion of St. Philip. Accordin;^ to the 
old Greek traditions, he was crucified wiih his head 
downwards, and he is so representetl on the ji^ates of 
S.iu Paolo ; also in an old picture over the tomb of 
Cardinal Philip])e d'Alcn;;on, where his patron, St. 
Piiilip, is attached to the cross with cords, and head 
doAvuwards, like St. Peter ; * but in the old fresco by 
Giusto da Padova, in the Capella di San Filippo, lie is 
crucified in the usual manner, arrayed in a long red 
garment which descends to his feet. 

It is necessary to avoid confounding St. Philip the 
apostle with St. Philip the deacon. It was Pliiiip the 
deacon who baptized the chaml)erlain of Queen Can- 
dace, thouiih the action has sometimes been attriI)ULe(l 
to Piiilip the apostle. The incident of the baptism of 
the Ethiopian, taking place iu the road, by running 
water, "on the way that goeth down from Jcrusaleai 
to Gaza," has been introduced into several i)cau.ifuL 
landscapes with much picturesque effect. Claude has 
thus treated it ; Salvator Rosa ; Jan Both, in a most 
beautiful picture ia the Queeu's Gallery ; llombrandt, 
Cuyp, and others. 

* Rome, S. ilaria-in-Trastsrere. a. d. 1337. 


St. Bartholo3iew. 

Lat. S. Cartholomeus. Ital. San Eartolomeo, Fr. St. BarthelemL 

Aug. 24. 

As St. Bartholomew is noAvherc mentioned in the 
canonical books, except by name in enumeratin<:; the 
apostles, there has been large scope for legendary story, 
but in works of art he is not a popular saint. Accord- 
ing to one tradition, he was the son of a husbandman; 
according to another, he was the son of a prince Ptolo- 
meus. After the ascension of Christ he travelled into 
India, even to the confines of the habitable world, car- 
rying with him the Gospel of St. Matthew ; returning 
thence, he preached in Armenia and Cilicia ; and com- 
ing to the city of Albanopolis, he was condenmed to 
death as a Christian : he was first flayed and then cru- 

In single figures and devotional ])ictures, St. Bar- 
tholomew sometimes carries in one hand a book, the 
Gospel of St. Matthew ; but his peculiar attribute is a 
large knife, the instrument of his martyrdom. The 
legends describe him as having a quantity of strong 
black hair and a bushy grizzled beard ; and this por- 
trait being followed very literally by the old German 
and Flemish painters, gives him, Avith his large knife, 
the look of a butclicr. In the Italian pictures, though 
of a milder and more dignified appearance, he has fre- 
quently black hair ; and sometimes dark and resolute 
features ; yet the same legend describes liim as of a 
cheerful countenance, wearing a purple robe and at- 
tended by angels. Sometimes St. Bartholomew has 
his own skin hanging over his arm, as among the 
saints in Michael Angelo's Last Judgment, where he 
is holding forth his skin in one hand, and grasping his 
knife in the other : and in the statue by jNIarco Agrati 
in the ^Nlilan Cathedral, fiimous for its anatomical pre- 
cision and its l)oastful inscription, Non me Praxiteles 
sed Marcus pinxit Agratis. I found in the church of 

ST. THOMAS. 2^3 

Notre Dame at Paris a picture of St. Bartholoincw 
hcaliiifr the Princess of Armenia. With tliis excepiion, 
I know not any liistorical subject where tiiis ajjostle is 
the principal tigure, except liis revolting and crujl 
marivrdom. In tiie early Greek representation on the 
gates of San Paolo, he is affixed to a cross, or rather 
to a post, with a small transverse bar at top, to wliich 
liis hands are fastened al)ove his head ; an executioner, 
witli a knife in his hand, stoops at his feet. This is 
very different from the representations in the modern 
schools. The i)est, that is to say, the least disgusting, 
representation I have met with, is a small j)icture hy 
Agostino Caracci, in the Sutherland Gallery, which 
once belonged to King Charles I. : it is easy to sec 
that the painter liad the antique Marsyas in his mind. 
That dark, ferocious spirit, Ribera, found in it a theme 
congenial with his own temperament ; * he has not 
only painted it several times with a horrible truth and 
power, but etched it elaborately with his own hand : a 
small picture, copied from the etching, is at Hampton 

St. Thomas. 

Ital. San Tomaso. Sp. San Tohk^. Dec. 21. Patron Saint of 
Portugal aud Parma. 

St. Thomas, called Dkhjmus (the twin), takes, as 
apostle, the seventh place. He was a Galilean and a 
fisheriiuxn, and we find him distinguished among the 
apostles on two occasions recorded in the Gospel. 
Wlien Jesus was going up to Bethany, being then in 
danger from the Jews, Thomas said, " Let us also go, 
that we may die with him." (John xi. 16, xx. 2.5.) 
After tlie resurrection, he showed himself unwilling to 
believe in the reappearance of the crucified Saviour 
without ocular demonstration : this incident U styled 
the lucredulity of Thomas. Prom these two iucideuts 

* Stirling's " Artists of Spain," ii. p. 753 


we may form some idea of liis clmi'acter : couraf^eous 
and atfeetionate, hut not inniued to take things for 
granted ; or, as a French wriar expresses it, " brusque 
et re'soUi, mais d'un esprit exigeant." After the ascen- 
sion, St. Thomas travelled into the East, preaeliing tlie 
Gospel in far distant countries towards the rising sun. 
It is a tradition received in the Churdi, that lie pene- 
trated as far as India ; tliat tliere meeting- with the 
tlirce Wise INIen of tlie East, he hajjiized them ; that 
there he founded a church in India, and suffered mar- 
tyrdom there. It is related, that the Poriuguese found 
at Meliapore an ancient inscription, purporting that 
St. Thomas liad heen pierced with a lance at the foot 
of a crois which he had erected in that city, and that 
in 1523 his body was found there and transported to 

In Correggio's fresco of St. Tliomas as protector of 
Parma lie is surrounded by angels bearing exotic fruits, 
as expressing liis ministry in India. 

There are a number of extravagant and poetical le- 
gends relating to St. Thomas. I shall lierc limit my- 
self to those which were adopted in ecclesiastical deco- 
ration, and treated by the artists of the middle ages. 

When St. Thomas figures as apostle, alone or with 
others, in all the devotional representations which are 
not prior to the thirteenth century, he carries as bis at- 
tribute the builder's rule. 

Xow, as he was a fisherman, and neither a carpenter 
nor a mason, the origin of this attribute must besought 
in one of the most popular legends of whicii Le is the 

" When St. Thomas was at Cesarea, our Lord ap- 
peared to him and said, ' The king of the Indies, Gon- 
doforus, hath sent bis provost Abanes to seek ibr 
workmen well versed in the science of crcbiLeciure, 
who sliall build for bini a palace liner than that of ihc 
Emperor of lionie. Beiiold, now, I will send ihec to 
liim.' And Thomas went, and Gondoforus command- 
ed him to build for him a magnificent palace, and gave 

ST. THOMAS. 255 

him mil -h <:olil and silver for tlic pm'pose. The king 
went into a distant country, and was absent for two 
years ; and St. Tnomas meanwiiilo, instead of building 
a ]);ila'.-e, dis;ri!)Utcd all the treasures intrusted to him 
amon:^ the poor and sick ; and when the klu-j; returned, 
he was full of wrath, and he commanded that St. 
Thomas should be seized and cast into prison, and ho 
meditated for him a horrible death. Meantime the 
brotlier of the king died ; and the king resolved to erect 
for him a moit mugnili.-ent tomi) ; but the dead man, 
after that he had been dead four days, suddenly arose and 
sat upright, and said to the king, ' The man whom thou 
wouldst torture is a servant of God : behold I have 
been in Paradise, and the angels showed to me a won- 
drous palace of gold and silver and precious stones ' ; and 
they said, 'This is the palace that Thomas the archi- 
tect hath built for thy l)rother King Gondoforus.' And 
when the king iieard these words, he ran to the prison, 
and delivered the apostle; and Thomas said to him, 
' Knowest thou not that those who would possess 
heavenly things, have little care for the things of this 
earti) ? There are in heaven rich palaces without num- 
ber, which were prepared from the beginning of the 
world for those who purchase the possession through 
faith and charity. Thy riches, king, may prepare 
the way for thee to sujh a palace, but they cannot fol- 
low thee thither.' "* 

T;ie buikbr's rule in the hand of St. Thomas charac- 
terizes him as the spiritual architect of King Gondofo- 
rus, and for the same reason he has been chosen among 
the saints as patron of architects and builders. 

There is in this IcLrend or allegorv, fanciful as it is, an 
obvious beauty and significance, which I need not point 
out. It appears to me to be one of those many legends' 
which originally were not assumed to lie facts, but were 
related as parables, religious fictions invented for the 
instruction of the people, like our Saviour's stories ot 
the "Good Samaritan," the "Prodigal Son," &c., and 

* Legenda Aurea. 


were rendered more strikini^ and impressive by the in- 
troduction of a celebrated and exalted personage — our 
Saviour, the Virgin, or one of the apostles — as licro 
of the tale. This beautiful legend of St. Thomas and 
King Gondoforus is painted on one of the windows of 
the Cathedral at Bourges, — an appropriate offering 
from the company of builders in that ancient ciiv. It 
is also the subject of one of the finest of the ancient 
French mysteries, which was acted with great applause 
at Paris in the fourteenth century. 

But, in the historical subjects from the life of St. 
Thomas, the first place must be given to the one Scrip- 
tural incident in which he figures as a principal person. 
" The Incredulity of St. T homas " occurs in all the 
early series of the life of Christ, as one of the events 
of his mission, and one of the proofs of liis resurrec- 
tion. On the ancient gates of San Paolo it is treated 
with great simplicity as a sacred mystery, St. Thomas 
being the principal personage in the action, as the one 
whose conviction was to bring conviction to the uni- 
verse. Christ stands on a pedestal surmounted by a 
cross ; the apostles are ranged on each side, and St. 
Thomas, approaching, stretches forth his hand. The 
incident, as a separate subject, is of frequent occurrence 
in the later schools of Italy, and in the Flemish schools. 
The general treatment, when given in this dramatic 
style, admits of two variations : either St. Thomas is 
placing his hand, with an expression of doubt and fear, 
on the wounds of the Saviour ; or, his doubts being 
removed, he is gazing upwards in adoration and won- 
der. Of the first, one of the finest examples is a well- 
known picture by Rubens,* one of his most beautiful 
works and extraordinary for the truth of the expression 
in the countenance of the apostle, whose hand is on the 
side of Christ ; St. John and St. Peter are behind. 
In Vandyck's pictm-e at Petersburg, St. Thomas stoops 
to examine the Saviour's hand. In a design ascribed 
to Raphael, we have the second version : the look of 

* Gallery of Antwerp. 

ST. THOMAS. 257 

astonished conWction in St. Thomas.* Xiccolo Pons- 
siu has painted it finely, intvodu(in,2r twelve tiizures.t 
Gueivino's picture is celebrated, hut he has committed 
the fault of representing the two principal figures both 
in profile. t 

The legendary subject styled "La ^Madonna dclla 
Cintola" belongs properly to thclegends of tlie Virgin, 
but as St. Tiiomas is always a ])rincipal persona,::e I 
shall m.MUioa it here. The legend relates that wlicn 
the Madonna ascended into heaven, '\n the sight of the 
apostles, Thomas was absent ; but after three days he 
returned, and, donhtinrj the truth of her glorious trans- 
lation, he desired that her tomb should be opened ; 
which was done, and lo ! it was found empty. Then 
the Virgin, taking pity on his weakness and want of 
faith, threw down to him her girdle, that this tangible 
proof remaining in his hands migiit remove all doubts 
forever from his mind : hence in many pictures of the 
Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin, St. Thomas 
is SL'en below holding the sacred girdle in his liaiid. 
For instance, in Raphael's beautiful "Coronation" in 
tha Vatican ; and in Correggio's " Assumption " at 
Parma, wljero St. Thomas holds the girdle, and an- 
other apostle kisses it. 

The b-lief tliat tlie girdle is preserved in the Cathe- 
dral at Pistoia has rendered this legend a popular sub- 
ject with the Florentine painters ; and we find it treated, 
not merely as an incident in the scene of the Assump- 
tion, bud in a manner ])nrcly mystic and devotional. 
Tiius, in a charming bas-relief by Lnca della Rol)l)ia,§ 
tlie Virgin, surrounded by a choir of angels, i)rescnts 
hsr girdle to the apostle. In a beautiful picture by 
Grana'-;ci,l| the Virgin is seated in the clouds; bcneatli 
is her empty sepulchre : on one side kneels St. Thomas, 
Avlio receives with reverence the sacred girdle ; oa the 

* Passavant's Rafael, ii. 116. 

t Eag. by Audran. | Gal. Vatican. 

§ Fl. Acad. B Fl. Gal 



other kneels the Archangel Michael. In simplicity of 
arranireinent, beauty of expression, and tender liar- 
mony of color, this picture has seldom been exceeded. 
Granacci has apaiu treated tliis subject, and St. Thomas 
receives the girdle in the ])resence of St. John ih.c Br,]i- 
tist, St. James Major, St. Laurence, and St. Bunh.o'o- 
mew. * We have llie same subject by Paolino d;i 
Pistoia: by So;^liani ; and by Mainardi, a lari:e r.i"d 
very fine fresco in the church of Santa Croce at FJor- 

A poetical and truly mystical version of this subject 
is that wlierein the liiftint Saviour, seated or si-indiiig 
on his motlier's knee, looses lier jiirdle and presents it 
to St. Thomas. Of this I have seen several oiamplcs ; 
one in the Dnomo at Viterl)0.t 

In the Martyrdom of St. Thomas, sevenl idolaters 
pierce him through with lances and javcli's. It was 
so represented on the doors of San PacO, with four 
figures only. Rubens, in his lai'gc pictun has followed 
the legend very exactly ; St. Th.omas embraces the 
cross, at the foot of wb.ich he is about tc fi»ll, transfixed 
l)v si)ears. A large picture in the j-iUcry of Count 
Harrach at Vienna, called there the Jartyrdom of St, 
Jude, I believe to represent the M''fyrdom of St, 
Tliomas. Two of the idolatrous pCsts pierce him 
with lances. Albert Diircr, in \^ beautiful prii:t 
of St. Thomas, represents him hold.i?: l!c lance, il:o 
instrument of his martvrdom : Lut^'^'^ i^ very u:i- 

The eighth in the order of -ic Apostles is t];c 
Evangelist St. Matthew, cf vO^-^ I l^avc spokeu 
at leuuth. 


* Florence, Casa Ruccellai. 

t The voniiintic L-gend of the sacr^^^^"^^ cintola, " the most 
Biicred girlie of tlie Virgin," is give ^^ length ia the " Legends 
of the Madonna." 


St. James Mixor, 

Lot. S. Jacobus Frater Domini. Gr. Adclphoth'?os. Ital. San 
Jacopo or Giacomo MLnore. Fr. H. Jacques Miueui*. May 1. 

The ninth is St. James Minor, or the Less, called 
also the Just : he was a near relative of Christ, being 
the soa of Mary, the wife of Cleophas, who was the sis- 
ter of the Viririn Mary ; hence he is styled *' the Lord's 
brotlier." Nothiir^' particular is related of him till aficr 
tho as'.'cnsion. II-! is reirank-d as first Clirisliaii bishop 
of Jerusalem, anJ veir.^rated for his se!f-deaial, his piety, 
his wisdom, and his charity. These characteristics arc 
conspicuous in the beautiful Epistle which bears his 
name Having excited, by the fervor of his teaching, 
the fury of the Scribes and Pharisees, and particularly 
the enmity of the higli-priest Ananus, they flung him 
down from a terrace or parapet of the Temple, and one 
of the infuriated populace below beat out his brains 
with a filler's club. 

In single figures and devotional pictures, St. James 
is generally leaning on this club, the instrument of his 
martyrdom. According to an early tradition, he so 
nearly resembled our Lord in person, in features, and 
deportment, that it was difficult to distinguish them. 
"The Holy Virgin herself," says the legend, "had she 
been capalde of error, might have mistaken one for the 
other " : and this exact resemblance rendered necessary 
the kiss of the traitor Judas, in order to point out his 
victim to the soldiers. 

Tills characteristic resemblance is attended to in the 
earliest and best representations of St. James, and by 
this he may usually be distingnlshed when he docs not 
bear his club, wliich is ofcen a thick stick or statf. 
With the exception of those Scripture scenes in which 
the apostles are present, I have met with few pictures 
in Avhich St. James Minor is introduced : he does not 
appear to have been popular as a patron saint. The 


event of his martyrdom occurs very seldom, and is very 
literally rendered : the scene is a court of the Temple, 
Aviih terraces and haUonics ; he is fallinir, or lias fallen, 
to the ground, and one of the crowd lifts up the club 
to smite him. 

I;inorant artists have in some instances confoimded 
St. James IMajor and St. James Minor. The Capella 
del Beiludi at Padua, already mentioned, dedicated to 
St. Philip and St. James, contains a scries of frescos 
from the life of St. James Minor, in whidi rre some 
of the miraculous in( idents attributed in the Legcnda 
Aurea to St. James Major. 

1. The Council of tie Apostles held at Jerusalem, 
in which St. James was nominated chief or bishop of 
the infant church. 2. Our Saviour after his resurrec- 
tion appears to St. James, Avho had vowed not to eat 
till he should see Christ.* 3. St. James thrown down 
from the pulpit in the court of the Temple. 4. He is 
slain by the fuller. 5. A certain merchant is stript of 
all his goods by a tyrant, and cast into prison. He 
implores the protection of St. James, who, leading him 
to the summit of the tower, conmiands tlie lower to 
bow itself to the ground, and il;e merchant steps from 
it and escapes ; or, according to th.e version followed in 
the fresco, the ap'ostlc lifts the tower on one side from 
its foundation, and tlie prisoner escapes from under it, 
like a mouse out of a trap. 6. A poor pilgrim, having 
neither money nor food, fell asleep by the wayside, 
and, on waking, found that St. James had placed be- 
side him a loaf of bread, which miraculously supplied 
liis wants to the end of his journey. These two last 
stories are told also of St. James of Galicia, but I have 
never met Avith any pictures of his life in Avhich they 
are included. Here tliey undoubtedly refer to St. 
James ]SIinor, the chapel being consecrated to his honor. 

* " Very soon after the L')rfl was risen, he went to James, and 
showed himself to him. For James had solemnly sworn that he 
would eat uo bread from the time that he had drank the cup of the 
Lord till he should see him risen from among them that sleep 

►sy. .^jMOX ZKLOTKS. — ST. JUDE. zSi 

St. Snrox Zelotes (or the Zealot). St. Judb 
(Thaddeus, or Lebbeus). 

Ital. San Simone ; San Taddeo. Fr. S. Simon le Zele. S. Thad- 
dee. Ger. JuJas Thaddaeus. Oct. 23. 

The uncertainty, contradiction, and confusion which 
I find in all the ecclcsiixstical biographies relative to 
these apostles, make it impossible to give any clear 
account of them ; and as subjects of art they arc so 
unimportant, and so uninteresting::, that it is the less 
necessary. Accordinjj; to one tradition, they were the 
s,ame mentioned by Matthew as our Lord's brethren or 
kinsmen. But, according to another tradition, they 
were not the same, but two brothers who were among 
the shepherds to whom the angel and the heavenly host 
revealed the birth of the Saviour. Tliosc painters who 
followed the first tradition represent Simon and Jude as 
young, or at least in the prime of life. Those who 
adopt the second represent them as very old, taking it 
for granted that at the birth of Christ they must have 
been ftdl-grown men; and this, I think, is the legend 
usually followed. It seems, however, generally agreed, 
thut they preached tiie Gospel together in Syria and 
Mesopotamia, and together suffered martyrdom in Per- 
sia : in what manner they suffered is unknown ; but it 
is supposed that St. Simon was sawn asunder, and St. 
Thaddeus killed with a halberd. 

In a series of a])ostles, St. Simon beai's the saw, and 
St. Thaddeus a halberd. In Greek art, Jude and Thad- 
deus are two ditftirent persons. Jude is represented 
young, Thaddeus old. St. Simon in extreme old age, 
with a bald head, and long white beard. In the Greek 

' Bring,' saith the Lord, ' a table and bread.' He took bread, and 
blessed and brake it, and then gave it to James the Just, and said 
to him, ' My brother, eat thy bread ; for the Son of man is risen 
from among tliem that sleep.' " — St. Jerome, as quoted in Lard 
ner, Lives of the Apostles, chap. 16. 


representation of his martyrdom, he is affixed to a cross 
exactly like that of our Saviom*, so that, but for the 
sui)erscription CI^IQX, he might be mistaken for 
Christ. 1 do not know of any separate picture of these 

There is, ho^Ycver, one manner of treating tlicm, 
with reference to their supposed relationship to our 
Saviour, which is peculiarly beautiful. As.suming that 
the three last-named apostles, James, the son of Mary 
Clcophas ; biuiou and Jude ; Joseph or Joses lie Just, 
al^o named by Matibew among the I reihren cf Ci.iist; 
toueiher with James and John, the sons of ]M£.rv Sa- 
lome, — were all nearly relaicd to tl;e Saviour ; it was 
surely a charming idea lo group as children around him 
in his infancy those avI;o were afterwards called io be 
the chosen ministers of his Word. Christianity, which 
has glorified womanhood and childhood, never suggest- 
ed to the Christian artist a more beautiful subject, nor 
one which it Avould be more easy, by an unworthy or 
too picturesque treatment, to render merely pretty and 
commonplace. This version, however, of the Sacra 
Famiglia is rarely met with. There is an example in 
the Louvre, signed " Laurentius " (Lorenzo di Pavia, 
A. D. 1513), wliich is remarkable as a religious repre- 
sentation ; but the most I CMUiful ir.stance of this treat- 
ment is a chefd'ceuvre of Perugino, in the Musee at 
Marseilles. In the centre is the Virgin, seated on a 
throne ; she holds the Lifant Christ in her arms. Be- 
hind her is St. Anna, lier two hands resting affection- 
ately on the shoulders of the Virgin. In front, at the 
foot of the throne, are two lovely children, undrapcd, 
with glories round their heads, on which are inscribed 
their names, Simon and Thaddcus. To the right is 
Mary Salome, a beautiful young woman, holding a 
child in her arms, — St. John, afterwards tl.e Evangelist. 
Kear her is Joachim, the of the Virgin. At liis 
feet another child, James Major. To the left of the 
Virgin, Mary the wife of Clcophas, standing, holds by 
the hand James Minor: behind her, Joseph, the hus- 


band of the Virjrin, and at his feet another cliild, Joseph 
(or Joses) Justus. I have also seen this sulyect in illu- 
minated MSS., and, however treated, it is surely very 
poetical and suggestive.* 

St. IMatthias. 
Ital. Saa Mattia. Fr. St. ISIathias. Feb. 24. 

St. jMattiiias, -who was chosen hv lot to Till the 
place of the traitor Judas, is tlic last of the a;)ostles. 
(Acts i.) He preached the Gospel in Judica, and suf- 
f^-red martvrdoni at tlic hands of the Jews, cither hv 
the lance or hy the axe. In tlie Italian series of the 
apostles, he hears as his attrihute the lance ; in the Ger- 
man sets, more commonly the axc.t The ceremony 
of clioosing St. Matthias hy lot, is the suhject of a 
mediocre pictui'e hy Boschi. St. Denis says that the 
apostles were directed in their choice by a beam of 
divine splendor, for it were impious to suppose that 
such an election was made by chance. In this picture 
of Boschi, a ray of light falls from heaven on tlie head 
of St. Matthias. 

There is a ligure of this apostle by Cosirao Rbselli, 
holding a sword hj the point : ■wliat might be t!ie inten- 
tion of that capricious ])ainter it is now^ impossiljle to 
guess. \ Separate ])i-turcs of St. Matthias are very 
rare, and lie ii seldom included in sets of the apostles. 


Ital. Giatla Scariota. Fr. Judas Iscariotte. 

The Aery name of Judas Iscariot has become a by- 
word ; his person and character an ctcrnrd typo of 
impiety, treachery, and ingratitude. We shudder at 

* Matt. xiii. 55 ; Mark xv. 40. t Fl. Gal. 

+ Fl. Acad. 


the associations called up by bis memory ; bis crime, 
witliout a name, so distances all possible human turpi- 
tude, tliat he cannot even l;e held forth as a terror to 
evil doers ; we set him aside as one cut off; we never 
think of him but in reference to the sole and unequalled 
crime recorded of him. Kot so our ancestors; one 
sliould have lived in tlie middle a;^es to conceive the 
profound, the ever-present liorror with which Judas Is- 
cariot M'as then reg,ardcd. The Devil himself did not 
inspire the same passionate hatred and indignation. 
Ceinii: the Devil, what could he be but devilish ? His 
wickedness was according to his infernal nature: but 
tiic crime of Judas remains the perpetual shame and 
i-eproach of our humanity. The Devil betraved man- 
kind, but Judas betraved his God. 

The Gospels are silent as to the life of Judas before 
he became an apostle, but our progenitors of the mid- 
dle ages, who could not conceive it possible that any 
being, however perverse, Avould rush at once into such 
an abyss of guilt, have filled up the omissions of Scrip- 
ture after their own fancy. They picture Judas as a 
Avretch foredoomed from the beginning of the world, 
and prepared by a long coarse of vice and crime for 
that crowning guilt which filled the measure full. Ac- 
cording to this legend, he was of the trilie of Reuben. 
Before his mother brought him forth, she dreamed that 
the son who lay in her womb would be accursed, that 
he would murder his father, commit incest with his 
mother, and sell his God. Terrified at her dream, she 
took counsel with her husband, and they agreed to 
avert the threatened calamity by exposing the child. 
As in the story of (Edipus, from which, indeed, this 
strange wild legend seems partly borrowed, tlie means 
taken to avert the threatened curse caused its fulfilment. 
Judas, at his birth, is enclosed in a chest, and flung 
into the sea; the sea casts him up, and, being found on 
the shore, he is fostered l)y a certain king and queen as 
their own son ; they liave, however, another son, whom 

JUDAS /SCAR I or. 265 

Jndas, inaliijnant from his birth, beats and oppresses, 
and at lentrtli kills in a quarrel over a j^amc at chess. 
He then Hies to Jutlasa, where he enters the service of 
Pontius Pilate as page. In due time lie commits tlic 
other monstrous crimes to which lie was predestined ; 
and wlicn he learns from his mother the secret of his 
birth, he is filled with a sudden contrition and tern)r; 
he hears of the prophet wlio has power on earth to for- 
give sins; and seeking- out Clirist, tin-ows himself at his 
feet. Our Saviour, not deceived, but secin;;- in him the 
destined betrayer, and tliat all thinj^s may be accom- 
plished, accepts him as his apostle : he becomes the 
seneschal or steward of Christ, bears the purse, and 
provides for the common wants. In this position, 
avarice, the only vice to which he was not yet addicted, 
takes possession of his soul, and makes the corruption 
complete. Tin-ough avarice, he grudi^es every ])enny 
given to the poor, and when Mary Magdalene anoints 
the^fect of our Lord he is full of wrath at what he con- 
siders tlie waste of tlie precious perfume. " ^Vhy was 
not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and 
given to the poor ?. This he said, not that he cared for 
the poor, but because he was a thief." Through ava- 
rice, he yields to the bribe offered by the Jews. Then 
follow the scenes of tlic betrayal of Christ and the 
late repentance and terrible suicide of the traitor, as re- 
corded in Scripture. But in the old Mystery of the 
" Passion of Christ," the repentance and fate of Judas 
are very dramatically worked out, and with all possi!)le 
circumstances of horror. AYhen he beholds the mild 
Saviour before the judgment-seat of Herod, he repents: 
Remorse, who figures as a real personage, seizes on the 
fated wretcli, and torments hiin till in his agony he in- 
vokes Despair. Despair appears, almost in the guise 
of the "accursed Avight " in Spenser, and, with like 
arguments, urges him to make away with his life; — 

" And brings unto him svvords, ropo, poison, fire. 
And all that miirht him t ) perdition draw, 
And bids hini choose what death he would desire." 


Or in the more homely language of the old French 
mystery, — 

" II faut que tu passes le pas ! 
\oici ilagues et coutelas, 
Forcettes, pDinpous, allumettes, — 
Avises, choisis les plus belles, 
Et celles de uieilleure forge, 
I'our te couper i coup la gorge 5 
Ou si tu aimes mieux te pemlre, 
Toici lacs et cordes a. veudre." 

The offer here of the hoilkins and tlie allunettes re- 
minds us of the speech of Falconbridgc : — 

" If thou wouldst drown thj"self, 
Put but a little water in a spoon, 
And it shall ba as all the ocean, 
Euough to stifle such a villain up." 

Judas chooses the rope, and hangs himself forth- 
with ; " and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the 
midst, and all his bowels gushed out " : which account 
is explained by an early tradition, that being found and 
cut down, his body was thrown over the parapet of the 
Temple into the ravine below, aud, in the fall, was 
riven and dashed to pieces. 

There required but one more touch of Itorror to 
complete the iiicture ; and this is furnished by a sonnet 
of Giani, which I remember to have read in my youth. 
Wlien Judas fulls from the fatal tree, his evil genius 
seizes the broken rope, and drags him down to the 
seething abyss below : at his approach, hell sends forth 
a shout of rejoicing ; Lucifer smooths his brow, corru- 
gated with iire and pain, and rises from bis burning 
throne to welcome a greater sinner than himself: 

" Poi fra le braccia incateno qu' 1 tristo, 
E colla bocca sfavillante e uera 
Gli rese il bacio ch' avea dato a Christo ! " 

The retribution imaged in the last two lines borders, 
I am afraid, on a concetto ; but it makes one shiver, 


Separate representations of the figure or o' tlie life 
of Juiias Iscariot arc not, of course, to he looked for; 
they would have been re<rardcd as prf>faiie- as onu- 
nous, — worse than the evil-eye. In tliosc S .riiiturc 
si-encs in whicli he finds a place, it was the aim of tlic 
early artists to give him a countenance as hateful, as 
cx])rcssive of treachery, meanness, mali;rniry, as tlicir 
skill could compass, — tlie Italians havin;! depended 
more on expression, tlie German and Spanish painters 
on form. We have a conviction, that if the man hud 
really worn such a look, such features, lie would have 
been cast out from the company of the apostles ; the 
legend already referred to says expressly that Judas 
was of a comely appeai'ance, and was recommended to 
the service of Pontius Pilate by his lieauty of jjcrson : 
but tlie painters, speakini; to the people in the languai^c 
of form, were right to admit of no equivocation. The 
same feeling which induoed them to concentrate on the 
imaa:e of the Demon all thev coulil conceive of hideous 
and repulsive, made them picture the exterior of Judas 
as deformed and liateful as the soul within ; and, l)y an 
exa;rircration of the Jewish cast of features comhincd 
with red hair and heard, they fiattered themselves that 
they had attained the desired object. But as if this 
were not enough, the ancient painters, jjarticularly in 
the old illuminations, ami in Byzantine Art, represent 
Ju las as dire^-tly and liicrally jjossessed by the Devil : 
sometimes it is a little black demon seated on his shoul- 
der, and whispering in his ear; sometimes entering his 
mouth : thus, in their simplicity, rendering the words 
of the Gospel, " Tlien entered Satan into Judas." 

Tiie color proper to the dress of Judas is a dirty, 
dingy yellow ; and in Spain this color is so intimately 
associated with the image of the arch-traicor, as to be 
held in universal dislike : both in Spain and i;i It.xly, 
malefactors anrl irallev-slaves are clothed in vellow.* 
At Venice the Jews were obliged to wear yellow hats. 

* See Ford's Handbook of Spain; also Goethe's "Theory of 
Colors,'' translated by Sir C. Eastlake. "When a yellow color is 


In some of the Scriptural scenes in which Judas is 
nicnlioned or supposed to be pi*esent, it is worth while 
to remark wliether the painter lias passed him over as 
spoiling the harmony of the sacred conipot^iiion l.y his 
intrusive ugliness and wickedness, or lias rendered him 
conspicuous l-y a distinct and characteristic treatnient. 
In a picture by Xiccolo Frumcnti * of the Magdalene 
at tlic feet of our Saviour, Judas stands in the fore- 
grouml, looking on with a most diaholical expression 
of grudging malice mingled with scorn ; he seems to 
grind his teeth as lie says, <• To what purpose is this 
waste ? " In Pcrugino's l)cautifnl jjiclure of the wash- 
ing the feet of the disciples,! Judas is at once distin- 
guished, looking askance, with a wi'.ked sneer on his 
face, which is not otherwise ugly, la Eaphael's com- 
position of the Magdalene anointing the feet of Christ, 
Judas leans across the table with an anurv look of ex- 

Those subjects in which Judas Isjariot appears as a 
princi])al ])ersonage follow liere. 

1 . Angelico da FiesoIe.| He is bribed by the Jews. 
The high-priest pays into the hand vl Judas the thirty 
pieces of silver. They are standing before a doorway 
on some steps ; Judas is seen in profile, and has the 
nimbus as one of the apostles : three persons are behind, 
one of whom expresses disapproliation and anxiety. In 
this su!)ject, and in others wherein Judas is introduced, 
Angelico has not given him ugly and deformed fea- 

cnmmunicated to dull and coarse surfacss, such as common cloth, 
f-k, (,i- the like, on wliich it does not iippear with full energy, 
the disagreeable effect alluded to is apj)arent. By a slight and 
scarcely perceptible change, ths beautiful impression of fire and 
gold is transformed into one not undeserving the epithet foul, and 
the color of honor and joy reversed to that of ignominy and aver- 
si )n. To this impression, the yellow hats of bankrupts; and the 
yellow circles on the mautles of Jews, may Iiave owed their ori- 
gin." (p. 303.) 

* Fl. Gal. t Manfrini P., Venice. 

J Fl. Acad. 


txxvQs ; but in the scowling eye and i)ent brow there is 
H vicious expression. 

In Duocio's series of the " Passion of our Saviour," 
In tlic Duomo at Siena, lie has, in tliis and in other 
scenes, represented Judas with reuular and not wzW 
features ; but he has a vilianons, and at the same time 
anxious, expression ; — he has a bad conscience. 

The scene between Judas and tiie hi.<:h-i)riest is also 
given by S;-halken as a candlelight eliect, and in the 
genuine Dutch style. 

2. "Judas betrays his Master with a kiss." This 
subject will be noticed at large in the Life of Christ. 
The early Italians, in giving this scene with much dra- 
matic power, never forgot the Scriptural diiiiiity re- 
quired ; wliile the early Germans, in their endeavor to 
render Judas as odious in physiognomy as in heart, 
have in this, as in many other instances, rendered the 
awful and the patlietic merely grotesque. We must 
infer from Scripture, that Judas, with all his perversity, 
had a conscience; he would not else have hanged him- 
self. In the physiognomy given to him i)y the old 
Germans, there is no trace of this : he is an u-'lv, ma- 
lignant brute, and nothing more. 

3. Rembrandt. " Judas throws down the thirty 
pieces of silver in the Temple, and departs."* 

4. " The remorse of Judas." He is seated and in 
the act of putting the rope about his neck ; beside him 
is seen the purse, and the money s^-attered aI)out the 
ground. The design is by Bloemart, and, from the 
Latin inscription underneath, a]>pears to be intended 
as a warning to all uin-igliteous dealers. 

5. " Judas hanging on a tree " is sometimes intro- 
duced into the background, in ancient pictures of the 
Deposition and the Entombment : there is one in the 
Frankfort Museum. 

6. " Demons toss the soul of Judas from hand to 
hand in the manner of a ball": in an old French min- 

* In the gallery of Lord Charlemont, Dublin. 


laturu.* This is sufficiently grotesque in representa- 
tion ; yet, in the idea, there is a restless, giddy liorror 
Avhifh thrills us. At all events, it is better than placing 
Judas between the jaws of Satan with his legs in the 
air, as Dante has done, and as Oreagna in Ids Dant- 
esquc fresco has very literally rendered the descriptioa 
of the poet.t 

The Last Supper. 

Ital. II Cenacolo. La Cena. Fr. La Cene. Ger. Das Abendmal 


I HAVE already mentioned the principal scenes in 
which the Twelve always appear together ; there is, 
however, one event belonging properly to the life of 
Christ, so important in itself, presenting the Apostles 
under an aspect so peculiar, and throwing so much in- 
terest around them collectively and individually, that I 
must bring it under notice here. 

jSText to the Crucilixion, there is no subject taken 
from the history of our redemption so consecrated in 
Art as the Last Supper. Tlie awful signification lent 
to it by Protestants as well as Caiiiolics lias given it a 
deep religious inqjort, and caused iis frequent rcpresen- 

* MS., No. 7205, Bib. du Iloi. 

t Fln-ence, S. ^Maria Novella. It is clear that the extravagar.t 
legends which refer to Julas Iscaii.)t were the mveiitiotis of ilie 
middle ages, and are as little c^miiteiiaiiced by the writings of the 
early Fiithers as by the Gospels. Eusebius siiys, that "Christ 
g;ive like gifts to Judas with the other apostles •, that once our 
Savi>)ur had good hopes of hiin on acount of the power of the 
free will, for Judas was not of such a nature as rendered his sak 
vation impossible -, like the oiher apostles, he might have been 
instructed by the Sjii of God, and might liave been a sincere and 
good disciple." Quoted in Lardner, vol. viii. p. 77. — The Ma- 
hometans believe that Christ did not die, that he ascended alive 
into heaven, and that Judas was crucified in his likeness. Curzon, 
p. 185. 


tation in cliunlies ; it has been, more particularly, the 
appropriate dacoration of the refectories of convents, 
liospitals, and ot'icr institutions havin^r a sacred char- 
acter. In our Protestant churches, it is f^enerully the 
subject of the altar-piece, where we have one. 

Besides being one of the most important and inter- 
estin,:^, it is one of the most difficult among the sacred 
subjects treated in Art. While the fixed number of 
persona'jTOs introduced, the divine an 1 paramount dig- 
nity of Oue among them, the well-known ciiaracter of 
all, have limited the invention of tlie artist, they have 
tasked to the utniost his power of expression. The 
occasion, that of a repast eaten by twelve persons, is, 
under its material aspect, so commonplace, and, taken 
in the spiritual sense, so awful, that to elevate himself 
to the height of his theme, while keeping the ideal con- 
scientiously bounded witliin its frame of circumstance, 
demanded in the artist aspirations of the grandest order, 
tempered bv the utmost sobriety of reflection ; and the 
deepest insiglit into the springs of character, combined 
with the most perfect knowledge of the indications of 
character as manifested through form. On the other 
hand, if it has been diffi.-ult to succeed, it has been 
e<iually difficult to fail signally and completely ; be- 
cause the spectator is not here, as in the crucifixion, in 
danger of being perpetually shocked by the intrusion 
of anomalous incidents, a!)d is always ready to supply 
the dignity and meaning of a scene so familiar in itself, 
out of his own mind and heart. It has followed, that 
mediocrity has been more prevalent and more endurable 
in tliis tlian in any other of the more serious sulijects 
of Art. Bat where excellence has i)een in some few 
instances attained, it has been attained in such a su- 
preme degree, that these examples have Ixjcome a per- 
petual source of contemplation and of emulation, and 
rank among the most renowned productions of human 

But, before I come to consider these analytically, it 
is necessary to premise one or two observations, which 


will assist us to discrimination in the general treat- 

Pictures and works of art, wliich represent the Last 
Supper of our Lord, admit of the same classification 
wliich I have adiiercd to generally throughout this 
Avork. Those which represent it as a religious mystery 
must be considered as devotional ; those which represent 
it merely as a scene in the passion of our Saviour are 
historical. In the first, we have the spiritual orij:in of 
the Eucharist ; in the second, the highly dramatic de- 
tection of Judas. It is evident that the predominating 
motif in each must be widely different. In paintings 
which are intended for the altar, or for the chapels of 
the Holy Sacrament, we have the first, the mystical 
vei'sion ; — it is the distribution of the spiritual food. 
In the second form, as the Last Supper eaten by Christ 
with his disciples, as leading the mind to an humble 
and grateful sense of his sacrifice, as repressing all 
sinful indulgence in food, it has been the sulyect chosen 
to decorate the refectory or common dining-room of 

It is curious that on the Christian sarcophagi the 
Last Supper does not occur. There is, in the Vatican, 
a rude painting taken from the catacombs representing 
twelve pei'sons in a semicircle, with something like 
plates and dishes -before them. I could not determine 
whether this was our Saviour and his apostles, or 
merely one of those feasts or suppers instituted by the 
early Ciiristians called Agapce or love-feasts ; but I 
should think the latter. 

On the Dalmatica (deacon's robe) preserved in the 
sacristy of the Vatican, there is, if the date be exact 
(a. d. 795), the most ancient representation I have seen 
of the institution of the Sacrament. The embroidery, 
which is wonderfully beautiful, is a copy from Byzan- 
tine Art. On one side, our Saviour stands by a table 
or altar, and presents the cup to his apostles, one of 
whom approaches in a reverential attitude, and with 
his hands folded in his robe ; on the other side, Christ 


presents the wafer or liost : so that we have the two 
separate moments in separate }irou])S, 

There exists in the Duomo of Loili the most ancient 
sculptural example of this suhject 1 have met with ; it 
is a bas-relief of tlic twelfrh century, dated 1163, and 
fixed in the wall to the left of the entrance. Christ 
and the apostles are in a straij^ht row, all very much 
alike ; six of the apostles lay their hands on their 
breast, — " Lord, is it I ? " and Christ presents the 
sop to Judas, who sits in front, and is as ugly as 

Altliough all the Byzantine pictures of the twelfth 
and thirteenth centuries which have come under my 
notice represent Cln-ist breaking the bread or holding 
the cup, tliat is, the institution of the Sacrament, the 
Greek formula published by Didron distinguishes be- 
tween this scene, and that of the repivst in which Judas 
is denounced as a traitor. The earliest representation 
to which I can refer in Western Art, as taking the his- 
torical form, is the Cenacolo of Giotto, the oldest and 
the most important that has been preserved to us ; it 
was painted by him in the refectory of the convent of 
Santa Croce at Florence. Tliis refectory, when I vis- 
ited it in 1847, was a carpet manufactory, and it was 
difficult to get a good view of the fresco by reason of 
the intervention of the carpet-looms. It has been often 
restored, and is now in a l)ad state ; still, enough re- 
mains to understand the original intention of the artist, 
and that arrangement which has since been the ground- 
work of similar compositions. 

A long table extends across the picture from side to 
side : in the middle, and fronting the spectator, sits tlie 
Redeemer; to the riglit, St. John, his head reclining 
on the lap of Christ ; next to him, Peter ; after Peter, 
St. James Major ; thus placing together the three fa- 
vorite disciples. Next to St. James, St. Matthew, St. 
Bartholomew, and a young beardless apostle, probably 
St. Piiilip. 

On the left hand of our Saviour is St. Andrew ; and 


next to him, St. James Minor (the tvvo St. Jameses 
bearing the traditional rescnil)lance to Christ) ; th.en 
St. Simon and St. Jiidc ; and kistly, a young apostle, 
probably St. Thomas. (The reader will have the good- 
ness to recollect that I give this explanation of the 
names and position of the eleven apostles as my own, 
and with due deference to the opinion of those who on 
a further study of the fresco may differ from me.) Op- 
posite to the Saviour, and on the near side of the table, 
sits Judas, apart from the rest, and in the act of dip- 
ping his hand into the dish. It is evident that the 
moment chosen by the artist is, " He tliat dippeth with 
mc in the dish, the same shall betray me." 

Although the excuse may be found in the literal 
adoption of the words of the Gospel,* it apjicars to 
me a fault to make St. John leaning, as one half asleep, 
on the lap of our Saviour, after such words have been 
uttered as must have roused, or at least ought to have 
roused, the young and beloved apostle from his supine 
attitude ; therefore, we may suppose that Christ is 
about to speak the words, but has not yet spoken them. 
The position of Judas is caused by the necessity of 
placing him sufficiently near to Christ to dip his hand 
in the same dish ; while to have placed him on the 
same side of tlie table, so as to give him the prece- 
dence over the more favoi'ed disciples, would have 
ai)pearcd to the early artists nothing less than profane. 
Giotto has paid great attention to the heads, wliich are 
individually characterized, but there is li?tle dramatic 
expression ; the attention is not yet directed to Judas, 
who is seen in profile, looking up, not ugly in feature, 
but with a mean, vicious countenance, and bent shoul- 

The arrangement of the table and figures, so pecu- 
liarly fitted for a refectory, has been generally adopted 
since the time of Giotto in pictures painted for this 

* The Greek expression, "leaninjj on his bosom, or on his lap," 
is not, I believe, to be taken literally, being used to signify an in- 
timate and affectionate intercourse. 


"I > 

especial purpose. The subject is placed on the upper 
wall of the cliainhcr ; the table extending: from side to 
sid3 : the tables of the monks are placed, as in the 
diiiiaj:-rooms of our coUcj^es, len^'thways ; thus all can 
behold thj divine asiembiy, and Ciirist appears to pre- 
side over and sin?tify the meal. 

In another Ciinavolo by Giotto,* wliich forms one of 
the sc-cnes in the history of Christ, he lias given us a 
torally ditfjrcnt version of the su!)jcct ; and, not beinj:^ 
intended for a refjJtory, but as an action or event, it is 
more draniAti.-. It is cviilent that our Saviour has 
juiC uttered the words, " Ho that dippeth with me in 
tiie disli, the same shall betray me." Judas, w!io has 
m^an, u:;ly, irregular features, looks up alarmed, and 
se^ms in the ajt of risin;j: to escape. One apostle 
(P.iiiip, I think) points at him, and the attention of 
all is more or less directed to him. This would be a 
fault if the subject were intendcl for a refectory, or to 
represent the celebration of the Eu •harist. But here, 
w'.jere the subject is historical, it is a propriety. 

The composition of Da:;cio of Siena, in the Duomo 
at Siena, must have been nearly conteuii)orary with, if it 
did not precede, those of Giotto (a. d. 1308) ; it is 
quite ditfjrent, quite original in ?/ja'//'and arrangement. 
Seven apostles sit on the same side with Christ, and 
live opposite to him, turning their backs on the si-)ectator; 
the faces are seen in profile. The attitude of St. John, 
leaning against our Saviour witli downcast eyes, is 
much m')re gra -eful tlian in the composition of Giotto. 
Si. Peter is on the right of Christ ; next to him St. 
Jam>s Minor : two young apostles sit at the extreme 
ends of tlie table, wiiom I suppose to be St. Piii'ipand 
Sr. Tno nis : the other apostles I am unable to discrim- 
inate, with the exception of Judas, w!io, wicli regular 
features, has a characteristic scowl on his brow. Clirist 
holds out a piece of bread in his hand ; two of the 
aposLles likewise hold bread, and two others hold a cup ; 

* Florence Acad. 


the rest look attentive or pensive, but the general char- 
acter of the heads is deficient in elevation. The mo- 
ment chosen may be the distribution of the bread and 
wine ; but to me, it rather expresses the commencement 
of the meal, and our Saviour's address : " \yith desire 
have I desired to cat this passover with you before I 
suffer." (Luke xxii. 15.) Tlie next compartment of 
the same series, which represents the apostles seated 
in a group before Christ, and listening with upturned 
faces and the most profound atter.tion to his last words, 
has much more of character, solemnity, and beauty 
than the Last Sui)per. Judas is here omitted ; " for 
he, having received the so]), went immediately out." 

Angelico da Fiesole, in his life of Christ, has been 
careful to distinguish between the detection of Judas 
and the institution of the Eucharist.* He lias give^i 
us both scenes. In the first compartment, John is lean- 
ins: down with his face to the Saviour ; the back of his 
head only is seen, and he appears too unmindful oi' 
what is going forward. The other apostles are well 
discriminated, the usual type strictly followed in Peter, 
Andrew, James Major, and James Minor. To the right 
of Clirist are Peter, Andrew, Bartholomew ; to the left, 
James Minor. Four turn their backs, and two young 
apostles stand on each side, — I presume Thomas and 
Philip ; they seem to be waiting on the rest : Judas 
dips liis hand in the dish. I sujipose the moment to be 
the same as in the composition of Duccio. 

But in the next compartment the motif is different. 
All have risen from table ; it is no longer a repast, it is 
a sacred mystery ; Ciu-ist is in the act of administering 
tlie bread to St. Jolm ; all kneel; and Judas is seen 
kneeling behind Christ, near an open door, and apart 
from the rest, as if he were watching for the opportun- 
ity to escape. To dispose of Judas in this holy cere- 
mony is always a difficulty. To represent hira as yc- 

* In the series of compositions from the life of Christ, now in 
the Academy at Florence ; beautifully and faithfully engraved oy 
P. Nocchi. 

Tin: LAST SUPPER. 277 

vciving with the rest the sacred rite is an offence to the 
pious. The expression used by St. John (xii. 30), 
" After he had received the sop he went out," implies 
that Judas was not present at the Lord's Supper, which 
succeeded the celel)ration of the paschal suj)per. St. 
Luke and St. ISIarix, neither of whom were present, 
leave us to suppose that Judas partook with the other 
disciples of the mystic bread and wine ; yet we caa 
liardly believe that, after having been pointed out as 
the betrayer, the conscience-stricken Judas should re- 
main to receive the Eucharist. Sometimes he is omit- 
ted altogether ; sometimes he is stealing out at the 
door. In the composition of Luca Signorelli, which 
I saw at Cortona, all tlie twelve apostles are kneeling; 
Christ is distriltuting the wafer; and Judas, turning 
away with a malignant look, puts his wafer into his 
satchel. In the composition of Talmezzano, in the 
Duomo at Forli, our Saviour stands, holding a plate, 
and is in the act of presenting the wafer to Peter, who 
kneels : St, John stands by the side of Christ, holding 
the cup : Judas is in the background ; he kneels by the 
door, and seems to be watching for the opportunity to 
steal away. 

The fine composition, fine also in sentiment and 
character, of Ghirlandajo, was painted for the small re- 
fectory in the San ^Marco at Florence. The arrange- 
ment is ingenious : the table is of what we call the 
horse-shoe form, which allows all the figures to face 
the spectator ; and at the same time takes up less room 
than where the table runs across the picture from side 
to side. Judas sits in front, alone ; Christ has just 
designated him. " He it is to whom I shall give the 
sop when I have dipped it." (John xiii. 26.) Judas 
holds the sop in his hand, with an alarmed conscious 
look. Behind sits an ill-omened cat, probably intended 
fur the fiend. John, to the left of Christ, appears to 
have swooned away. The other apostles express, in 
various ways, amazement and horror. 

It has been a question %inong critics, whether the 


purse ought to be placed in the hand of Judas Avhen 
present at the Last Supper, because it is usually under- 
stood as containing the thirty pieces of silver : but tin's 
is a mistake; and it leads to tlie mistake of rcjircsent- 
ing him as hiding the purse, as if it contained the 
price of his trearhery. Judas carries the purse openly, 
for he was the steward, or pursc-l)earcr, of the ]iarty : 
" he had the bag, and bare wliat was put therein " 
(John xii. 6, xiii. 29) : and as the money-bag is also 
the attriljute of St. Matthew the tax-gatherer, we must 
take care not to confound with the traitor and thief. 
This brings me to the consideration of the sulject as 
treated by Albert Diirer. 

In the series of large Avoodcuts from the Passion of 
our Saviour (styled " La grande Passion"), the Cena- 
colo is an event, and not a mystery. John, as a beau- 
tiful youth, is leaning against our Saviour with down- 
cast eves ; he docs not look as if he had thrown him- 
self down half-asleep, but as if Christ had put his arm 
around him, and drawn and pressed him fondly towards 
him. On the right is Peter ; the other apostles are not 
easily discriminated, but they have all that sort of 
(jrancUose ugliness which is so full of character, and so 
particularly the characteristic of the artist : the apostle 
seated in front, in a cowering attitude, holding the purse, 
which he seems anxious to conceal, and looking up 
apprehensively, I suppose to be Judas. 

In the smaller set of woodcuts (" La petite Passion "), 
I believe the aposilc with the purse in the foreground 
to be St. Matthew ; while the ugly, lank-haired person- 
age I)e]iind Christ, who looks as if about lo steal away, 
is proliably intended for Judas : one of the apostles has 
laid hold of him, and seems to say, " Thou art the 
man ! " 

There is a third Cenacolo, by Albert Diirer, which 
plainly represents the Eucharist. The cup only is ou 
the table, and Judas is omitted. 

In a Cenacolo by another old German, Judas is in 
the act of receiving tlie sof», which Christ is putting in- 


to his mouth ; and at the same time he is hiding the 
purse : — a mistake, as I have ah-eady observed. 

These examples must suffice to give some idea of the 
manner in wliirh this .suhjcct was jicnerally treated hy 
the early German and Italian artists. Bur, wliether 
presented before us as a dramatic scene exprcssinj? in- 
dividual character, or as an liistorical event memorable 
in the life of Christ, or as a reliirious rite of awful and 
mysterious import, — all the examjiles I have men- 
tioned are in some respects deficient. We liave the 
fcelinjr, that, whatever may be the merit in sentiment, 
in intention, in detail, what has been attempted has 
not been achieved. 

When Leonardo da Vinci, the p-eatcst thinker as well 
as the greatest painter of his age, brought all the re- 
sources of his wonderful mind to bear on the sul)ject, 
then sprang fortli a creation so consummate, that since 
that time it has been at once the wonder and the de- 
spair of those who have followed in the same path. 
True, the work of his hand is perishing, — will soon 
liave perished utterly. I remember w^ell, standing be- 
fore this wreck of a glorious presence, so touched by its 
pale, shadowy, and yet divine significance, and by its 
hopelessly impending ruin, that the tears sprang invol- 
untarily. Tortunately for us, multiplied copies have 
preserved at least the intention of t'le ariist in his work. 
AYe can judge of wliat it has been, and take that for 
our text and for our theme. 

Tlie purpose being tlie decollation of a refectory in a 
rich convent, the chamber lofty and spacious, Letm.irdo 
has adopted the usual arrangement : the table ru:is 
across from side to side, filling up the whole extent of 
the wall, and the figures, being above the eye, and to 
be viewed from a distance, are colossal ; they would 
otherwise have appeared smaller than the real person- 
ages seated at the tables below. The moment selected 
is the utterance of the words, " Verily, verily, I say 


unto you, that one of you shall betray me " : or rp.thei 
tlie Avords liave just been uttered, and the picture ex- 
presses their effect on the difFci'ent auditors. It is of 
these auditors, his apostles, that I have to speak, and 
not of Christ himself ; for the full consideration of t!ie 
subject, as it regards Him, must be deferred ; the in- 
tellectual elevation, the fineness of nature, the benign 
God-like dijrnity, suffused with the profoundest sonow, 
in tliis divine head, surpassed all I could have con- 
ceived as possible in Art ; and, faded as it is, the char- 
acter there, bein^: stamped on it by the soul, not the 
hand, of the artist, will remain while a line or hue re- 
mains visible. It is a divine shadow, and, until it 
fades into nothinjx, and disappears utterly, will liave 
tlie lineaments of divinity. Next to Christ is St. 
John ; he has just been addressed by Peter, who 
beckons to him tliat he should ask " of whom the 
Lord spake " : — his disconsolate attitude, as he has 
raised himself to reply, and leans his clasped hands 
on the ta!)le, the almost feminine sweetness of his 
countenance, express the character of this g^entle and 
amiable apostle. Peter, leaning from behind, is all 
fire and energy ; Judas, who knows full well of whom 
the Saviour spake, starts back amazed, oversetting the 
salt ; his fingers clutch the bag, of which he has the 
charge, Avith that action which Dante describes as char- 
acteristic of the avaricious : — 

" Quesli risurgeranno dal sepolcro 
Col pugno chiuso." , 

"These from the tomb with clenched gi-asp shall rise." 

His face is seen in profile, and cast into shadow : 
without being vulgar, or even ugly, it is hateful. St. 
Andrew, with his long gray beard, lifts up his hands, 
expressing the Avonder of a simple-hearted old man. 
St. James Minor, resembling the Saviour in his mild 
features, and the form of his beard and hair, lays his 
hand on the shoulder of St. Peter, — the expression is, 
" Can it be possible i have Ave heard aright ? " Bar 


/holomow, at the extreme cnrl of the table, lias risen 
jjuriurlicd from his scat ; he leans forward with a look, 
of ca^er attention, the lips parted ; he is impatient to 
liear more. (The fine copy of Ujrjiione, in the Royal 
A'-adcmy, docs not yive this anxious look, — he is at- 
tentive only.) On the left of our Saviour is St. James 
jNLajor, who has also a family rcscmhiancc to Christ ; 
his arms arc outstrctciied, he shrinks back, he rei)cU 
the thou^•ht with horror. Tlic vivucitv of the action 
and expression arc wonderfully true and characteristic. 
{.Mornhcn, the cni^raver, erroneously sup])0sed this to 
represent St. Thomas, and placed on the border of liis 
robe an inscription fi.xiuijc the identity ; wdiicli inscrip- 
tion, as Bossi asserts, never did exist in the original 
])icture.) St. Thomas is behind St. James, ratlicr 
youni;, with a short beard ; he liolds up liis liand, 
threateninir, — "If there be indeed such a wretch, let 
him look to it." Piiili]), youiij;- and with a beautiful 
head, lays his hand on his heart : he protests his love, 
his trutli. jNIatthcw, also beardless, has more elegance, 
as one who belonged to a more educated class than the 
rest ; he turns to Judc and ])oints to our Saviour, as 
if about to repeat liis words, " Do you hear what he 
says?" Simon and Judc sit togetlicr (Leonardo has 
followed the tradition which makes them old and 
brothers) ; Jude expresses consternation ; Simon, with 
his hands stretched out, a painful anxiety. 

To understand the wonderful skill with wliich this 
composition lias been arranged, it ought to be studied 
long and minutely ; and, to a])prc(iate its relative ex- 
cellence, it ought to be comi)ared with other produc- 
tions of the same ]»criod. Leonardo has contrived to 
break tlie formality of the line of heads without any 
apparent artifice, and without disturljing the grand 
*«.im;)!icity of the nsnal order ; and he has vanquislicd 
tlie difncuities in regard to the position of Judas, with- 
out making him too prominent. He has imparted to 
a solemn scene sufficient movement and variety of ac 


tion, without dctractin*? from its diij:nity and pathos , 
he lias kept tlie expression of caeli liead true to tlic 
traditional character, without cxaiigeralion, without ef- 
fort. To have done this, to have been the first to do 
this, rcciuired the far-reachi])g ])liilosophie mind, not 
less than tlie excelling- hand, of this " miracle of na- 
ture," as ]Mr. Hallam styles Leonardo, with reference 
lo his scientific as well as his artistic powers. 

And now to turn to another miracle of nature, Ra- 
phael. He has given us three compositions for the 
Last Supper. The fresco lately discovered in the re- 
fectory of Sant' Onofrio, at Florence, is an early work 
painted in his twenty-tliird year (a. d. ISC')). Th.c 
autiienticity of this picture lias been vehemently dis- 
puted ; for myself — as far as my opinion is worth 
anything — I never, after the first five minutes, had a 
doubt on the subject. As to its being the work Oi" 
Neri de' Bicci, I do not believe it possible; and as ror 
the written documents brought forward to prove this, I 
turn from them to "the handwriting on the wall," and 
there I see, in characters of light, Kapiiael, — and 
him only. It is, however, a youthful work, full of sen- 
timent and grace, but deficient, it ajijiears to me, in 
that depth and discrimination of character displayed 
in his later works. It is evident that lie had studied 
Giotto's fresco in the neighboring Santa Croce. The 
arrangement is nearly the same. 

Christ is in tiie centre ; his right h.and is raised, and 
he is about to speak ; the left hand is laid, with ex- 
treme tenderness in the attitude and expression on the 
shoulder of John, who reclines upon him. To the 
right of Christ is St. Peter, the head of the usual 
character ; next to him St. Andrew, with the flowing 
gray hair and long divided beard ; St. James Minor, 
llie head declined and resembling Christ : he hohls a 
cup. St. Piiilip is seen in profile with a white beard 
(this is contrary to the received tradition, which makes 
Iiim young ; and I doubt the eorreetuess of this appel- 


lation). St. James Major, at tlic extreme end of tlic 
tal)le, looks out of tlic jjicturc ; Kaphael lias appar- 
ently represented himself in this aposilc. On the left 
of Christ, after St. John, is St. Bartholomew; he holds 
a knife, and has the black beard and dark com])lexion 
usually piven to him. Then Matthew, something: like 
Peter,* I>ut milder and more reHned. Thomas, youn<; 
and handsome, pours wine into a cup ; last, on t!ic 
right, are Simon and Jude : Raphael has followed 
the tradition which supposes tliem young, and the 
kinsmen of our Saviour. Judas sits on a stool o\\ 
iic near side of the table, 0|>posite to Christ, and 
while he dips his hand into tlic dish he looks round 
CO the spettators ; he has the Jewish features, red haii' 
and beard, and a bad expression. All have glories 
but the glory round the head of Judas is much smaller 
than the others.* 

In the second composition, one of the scries of the 
life of Christ, in tlie Loggie of the Vatican, Raphael 
has placed the apostles round a table, four on each of 
the three sides ; our Saviour presiding in the centre. 
John and Peter, who are, as usual, nearest to Christ, 
look to him with an animated appealing expression. 
Judas is in front, looking away from the rest, and as 
if about to rise. The other heads are not well dis- 
criminated, nor is the moment well expressed : there 
is, indeed, something confused and inharmonious, un- 
like Raphael, in the whole composirion. I ])ass it 
over, therefore, without furtlier remark, to come to 
the third example, — a masterpiece of his later years, 
worthy as a composition of being compared with Leo- 
nardo's ; but, never having been painted, we can only 
pronounce it perfect as far as it goes. The original 
drawing enriches the collection of the Queen of Eng- 
land : the admirable engraving of Marc Antonio, said 
to have been touched by Raphael, is before me wliiic I 

* This is also observable id Uie Last Supper by Niccolo Petri in 
the San Francesco at Pisa. 


write. From the disposition of the unshod feet as seen 
uiuler the table, it is styled hy collectors " U pezzo del 
fiiedi " .• from tlie arranu^emcut of the table and iigures 
it was probably designed for a refectory. 

In tlie centre is Christ, with both hands resting 
on the table ; in the head, a melancholy resignation. 
Peter is on the right, his hand on his breast. John, 
on the left, places both hands on his breast, with a 
most animated expression, — "You cannot believe it 
is 1 1 " Andrew has laid his hand on the shoulder of 
Peter, and leans forward with a sad interrogative ex- 
pression. The head of Judas has features akin to 
those of the antique sat}T, with the look askance of 
a detected villain : he has heard the words, but he 
dare not meet the eye, of his Divine Master : he has 
no purse. James Minor, next to John, witli his hands 
extended, seems to speak sadly to Philip : " And they 
began to inquire among themselves, which of them 
should do this thing ? " The whole composition is 
less dramatic, has less variety of action and attitude, 
than that of Leonardo, but is full of deep melancholy 


The Cenacolo of Andrea del Sarto, in the Convent 
of the Salvi near Plorence, takes, I believe, the third 
rank after those of Leonardo and Raphael. He lias 
chosen the selfsame moment, " One of you shall be- 
tray me." The figures are, as usual, ranged on one 
side of a long table. Christ, in the centre, holds a 
piece of bread in his hand ; on his left is St. John, 
and on his right St. James Major, both seen in profile. 
The face of St. John expresses interrogation ; that of 
St. James, interrogation and a start of amazement. 
Next to St. James are Peter, Thomas, Andrew ; 
Philip, Avho has a small cross upon his breast. After 
St. Jolin come James ISIinor, Simon, Jude, Judas Is- 
cariot, and Bartholomew. Judas, with his hands folded 
together, leans forward, and looks down, with a round 
mean face, in which there is no power of any kind, 


not even of malignity. In passin.G: almost immediately 
from the Cenacolo in the St. Onofrio to that in the 
Salvi, we feel stronj;ly all the ditferenee between the 
mental and moral superiority of Kajihael at the age 
of twenty, and the artistic greatness of Andrea in the 
maturity of his age and talent. This fresco deserves 
its high celebrity. It is impossible to look on it with- 
out admiration, considered as a work of art. The 
variety of the attitudes, the disposition of the limbs 
beneath the table, the ample, tasteful dra|)eries, deserve 
the highest praise ; but tlie heads are dctirient in char- 
acter and elevation, and the wiiole com])osition wants 
that solemnity of feeling proper to the subject. 

The Cenacolo of Titian, painted for Philip II. for 
the altar of his chapel in the Escurial, is also a notable 
example of the want of proper reverential feeling : two 
servants are in attendance ; Judas is in front, averting 
his head, which is in deep shadow ; a dog is under the 
table, and the Holy Ghost is descending from al)Ove. 

Niccolo Poussin has three times painted the Cena- 
colo. In the two series of the Seven Sacraments, he 
has, of course, represented the institution of the Eu- 
charist, as proper to his subject ; in both instances, in 
that pure and classical taste proper to himself. In the 
best and largest composition, the apostles are reclining 
on couches round the table. Christ holds a plate full 
of bread, and appears as saying " Take, eat." Four 
are putting the morsel into their mouths. Judas is 
seen behind, with an abject look, stealing out of the 

The faults which I have observed in pictures of this 
subject are chiefly met with in tiie Venetian, Flemish, 
and later Bolognese schools. When the motif selected 
is the institution of the Eucharist, it is a fault to sa ri- 
fice the solemnity and religious import of the scene in 
order to render it more dramatic : it ought not to be 
dramatic ; but the pervading sentiment should be one, 


a deep and awful reverence. When Christ is distribut- 
injx tlie l)read and wine, the apostles should not be 
convcrsino: with each other ; nor should the ligures 
exceed twelve in numl)er, for it ap])ears to me that 
the introduciion of Judas disturl)S the sacred harmony 
and tranquillity of the scene. When the motif is the 
celebration of the Passover, or the detection of Judas, 
a more dramatic and varied arranfrement is necessary ; 
but, here, to make the apostles intent on caiiii<^ and 
driid-ciujr, as in some old German ])icturcs, is a fault. 
Even Aibano has represented one of the apostles as 
peeping into an empty wine-pitcher with a disappointed 

It appears to me, also, a p-oss faiilt to introduce 
dogs and cats, and other animals ; although I have 
heard it observed, that a dog gnawing a bone is intro- 
duced with propriety, to show that the supper is over, 
the Paschal Lamb eaten, before the moment repre- 

Vulgar heads, taken from vulgar models, or selected 
without any regard either to the ancient types, or the 
traditional character of the different apostles, are de- 
fects of frequent occurrence, especially in the older 
German schools ; and in Titian, Paul Veronese, and 
Rubens, even where the heads are otherwise line and 
expressive, the Scriptural truth of character is in gen- 
eral sacrificed. 

It is a fault, as I have already observed, to represent 
Judas anxiously concealing the purse. 

Holbein, in his famous Last Supper, at Bas'e, and in 
the small one in the Louvre, lias adopted the usual r.r- 
rangement: the heads all want elevation; but here the 
attention fixes at once upon Judas Iscariot, — the very 
ideal of scoundrclism, — I (an use no other word to 
express the uimiitigated ugliness, vulgariiy, and bru- 
tality of the face. Lavater has referred to it as an 
example of the physiognomy pi'oper to cruelty and 


avaric-e ; but the dissimulation is wantinfr. This base, 
ca<icr, hungrv-lookino: villain stands betrayed by hi* 
own looks : he is 100 prominent ; he is in fact thq 
]Hi;icipal tigure ; — a fault iu taste, feeling, and pro- 

The introduction of a jrreat number of fijrures, as 
spectators or attendants, is a fault ; excusable, pcrliaps, 
•vvliere the subject is decorative and intended for the 
wall of a refectory, but not otherwise. In the compo- 
sition of Paul Veronese, there are twenty-tliree fijiures ; 
iu t!iat of Zucchero, forty-five ; in that of Baroccio, 
twenty-one. These su])ernurnerary persons detract froiu 
the dignity and solemnity of the scene. 

Tintoretto has introduced several spectators, and 
among them an old woman spinning in a corner, 
who, while slie turns her spindle, looks on Avith an 
observant eye. This alludes to an early tradition, 
that the Last Supper was eaten in the house of Mary, 
the mother of Mark the Evangelist. But it is no- 
where said that she was present, and therefore it is 
an impropriety to introduce her. Magnificent archi- 
tecture, as in the picture by B. Pcruzzi (n-ho, by 
the way, was an architect), seems objectionable : but 
equally unsuitable is the poor dismantled ganx't in 
this picture of Tintoretto ; for the chaml)er in which 
the scene took place was " the guest-chamber," a large 
upper room, ready prepared ; and as it Avas afterwards 
the scene of the Pentecost, it must have held more 
than a hundred persons. 

It is a fiiult, as I have already observed, to represent 
John as asleep on the breast or the shoulder of our 

Though countenanced by the highest authorities in 
Art, I believe it must be considered as a fault, or at 
least a mistake, to represent our Saviour and his apos- 


ties as seated, instead of reclining round the table. It 
is a fault, not merely because the use of the triclinium 
or couch at all social meals was general in the antique 
limes, — for the custom of sitting upright was not to 
entirely extinct among the Jews but that it might on 
any other occasion have been admissible, — b'ut, from 
peculiar circumstances, it became in this instance an 
impropriety. AVe know that Avhen the Passover wr.s 
first instituted the Jews were enjoined to eat it stand- 
ing, as men in haste, witli girded loins and sandalled 
feet : but afterwards it was made imperative that they 
should eat it in an attitude of repose, lying upon 
couches, and as men at ease ; and the reason for 
this was, that all the circumstances of the meal, and 
particidarly the attitude in which it was eaten, should 
indicate the condition of security and freedom which 
the Israelites enjoyed after their deliverance from the 
Egyptian bondage. In the then imperfect state of 
Biblical criticism, this fact seems to have been un- 
known to the earlier artists, or disregarded by those 
who employed and directed them. Among modern 
artists, Poussin and Le Sueur have scrupulously at- 
tended to it, even when the moment chosen is the 
mystical distribution of the bread and wine which 
succeeded the Paschal Supper. Commentators have 
remarked, that if Christ and his disciples rtclincd at 
table, then, supposing Christ to have the central place 
of honor, the head of John would have been near to 
the bosom of Christ : but under these cin umstances, 
if Judas were sufficiently near to receive the sop from 
the hand of Christ, then he must have reclined next to 
liim on the other side, and have taken precedence of 
Peter. This supposed a pro])inquity which the early 
Christian artists deemed offensive and inadmissible. 

In the composition by Stradano the arrangement of 
the table and ligures is particularly well managed : all 
recline on couches : in the centre of the table is a dish, 
to which Christ extends his hand, and Judas, who is 


here rather handsome than otherwise, at the same time 
stretches forth his ; the moment is evidently, " He that 
dippctli with me in the dis!i, the same shall l)erray 
mt.'." Two cireumstances spoil tliis picture, and brin;j^ 
it down to tlic level of the vulvar and the common- 
place. In the back.^round is seen a kitchen and t!ie 
cookini>: of the supper. Under Judas crouches a hide- 
ous demon, with horns, hoof, and tail, visible only to 
tlie spectator. 

"When the Cenacolo represents the Eucharist, it is, 
perhaps, allowable to inrrodute anuels, l)C^-ause it was, 
and I believe is, an establislied belief, that, visible or 
invisible, they are always present at the Sacrament. 
The Holy Ghost descendin<; from above is unsanc- 
tioned by Scripture, but may serve to mark the mys- 
tioal and peculiar solemnity of the moment chosen Ibr 
representation. It may siujnify, " He that receiveth 
me, rcceiveth Him that sent me." But where anp:cls 
attend, or wliere the Spiritual Comforter comes floatiii;/; 
down from above, then the presence of Judas, or of 
any suj)erfluous fii^ures as sjxictators or servitors, or 
of dogs or other animals, becomes a manifest impro- 

The introduction of the Devil in person as temptins: 
Judas is rendered pardonable by the >»ufcY/t'' of the early 
painters : iu the later schools of art it is otfensive and 

The Cena"o]o of B.iroccio, painted by order of 
Clement VIII. (1534) for his family chajx-l in the 
Santa Maria-so'pra-Minerva, is remarkable for an anec- 
dote relatin,:4- to it. Baroccio, who was not eminent 
for a correct taste, had in his first sketch rever;ed to 
the ancient fashion of placinj:^ Satan close beliind Ju- 
das, whisperin;^: in his ear, and tempting him to betray 
his Master. T.'ie Pope expressed his dissatisfaction, — 
" che noa ijli piaceva il demonio si diiuesticusse tanlo con 
Geslc Crista," — and ordered him to remove the offen- 
sive figure. This is not the last example of the au- 


cient manner of treatment. In the Cenacolo of Fran- 
cescliini, painted nearly a century later, two angels are 
attending on the sarrcd repast, while Judas is in the 
act of leaving- the room, conducted by Satan in person. 

It is surely a fault, in a scene of such solemn and 
sacred import, to make the head of Judas a vehicle for 
public or private satire, by giving him the features of 
some o!)noxious )>ersonagc of the time.* This, ac- 
cording to tradition, has been done in some instances. 
Perhaps the most remarkable exam])le that couid lie 
cited is the story of Andrea del Castagno, who, aficr 
having betrayed and assassinated his friend Domcnico 
Veneziano, painted himself in the character of Judas : 
a curious instance of remorse of conscience. 

Volumes might be written on the subject of the 
Last Supper. It extends before me, as I think and 
write, into endless suggestive associations, which, for 
the present, I dare not follow out : but I shall have 
occasion to return to it hereaftcr.t 

St. Barxabas. 

Ital San Barnabi. Fr. S.iint Baruabe. June 11. 

St. Barxabas is usually entitled the Apostle Bar- 
nabas, because he was associated with the Apostles 
in their high calling; "and," according to Lardiicr, 
" though without; that large measure of inspiraiion 
and high authority which was peculiar to the Twelve 
Apostles, projjerly so called, yet he is to be considered 
as Apostolical, and next to them in sanctity." For this 
reastju I ])lace iiim here. 

St. Barnabas was a Levitc, born in the island of 

* For a signal example, see Stirling's '• Artists of Spain," p. 493. 
t For some remarks on the subject of the Pentecost, see '• Le- 
gends of the Madonna." 


Cyprus, and the cousin-crermaii of Mai'k the Evan- 
gelist. The notices of his life and character scattered 
throu;^h the Acts iTivest liim with p:rcat personal in- 
terest. He it was who, after the conversion of Pnul, 
was the first to believe in his sincerity, and took cour- 
age to present him to the other ai>ostles, " wlio were 
afraid of him, and would not believe that he Avas a 
disciple." (Acts xv. 39.) Barnabas afterwards be- 
came the fellow-laborer of Paul, and attended him to 
AntioL'h. We are told that " he was a pood man, 
full of the Holy Ghost and of faith " ; and to this the 
lei^endary tradiiions add, that he was a man of a most 
com.'ly countenance, of a noble presence, jrrave and 
commandini^ in his stop and deportment ; and thence, 
when he and Paul were at Lystra toj^ether, " they 
called Barnabas Jupiter, and Paul JMercurius." Sub- 
sequently, however, Paul and Barnabas fell into a dis- 
pute concerning Mark, and separated. TJic tradition 
relates that Barnabas and Mark remained for some 
time to_gether, beinj^ united by the ties of friendship, 
as well as by those of kindred. Barnabas preached 
the Gospel in Asia Minor, Greece, and Italy ; and 
there is an old leu:endary tradition that he was the 
first bishop of Milan. Tiie lej^end also relates that 
everywhere he carried with him the Gospel of St. 
Matthew, written by the hand of the Evangelist, 
preaching what was written therein ; and when any 
were sick, or possessed, he laid the sacred writing upon 
their bosom, and they were healed ; (a beautiful alle- 
gory tliis!) and it happened that as he preached in a 
synagogue of Judiea against the Jews, they were seized 
with fury, and took him and put him to a cruel death. 
But Mark and the other Christians buried him with 
many tears. 

The body of St. Barnabas remained in its place of 
sepulture till the days of the Emperor Zeno, when, 
according to Xicephorus, it was revealed iii. a dream 
to Autemius that the apostle rested in a certain spot, 
and would be found there, with the Gospel of St. ISIat^ 


tliew lying on his bosom. And so it happened : the 
remains were found ; the Gospel was carried to the 
vin])cror at Constantinople ; and a church was built, 
dedicated to St. Barnabas. 

It is, I presume, in consequence of his being the 
kinsman of St. Mark, that Barnal)as is more popular 
at Venice than elsewhere, and that devotional figures 
of liim are rarely found except in Venetian pictures. 
He is represented as a man of majestic presence, hold- 
ing in his hand the Gospel of St. Matthew, as in a fine 
picture I>y Bonifazio : in his church at Venice he is 
represented over the high altar, throned as bishop, 
while St. Peter stands below. 

He often occurs in subjects taken from the Acts and 
the life of St. Paul. In the scene in which he pre- 
sents Paul to the other apostles, he is the principal 
personage ; but in the scene at Paphos, where Elynias 
is struck blind, and at Lystra, he is always secondary 
to his great companion. 



^^^^^^HE Evangelists and the Apostles represented 
^^l^^i in Art the Spiritual Church, and took their 
"" HCtx' ph^ce among the heavenly influences. The 
^ci^i groat Fathers or Doctors were the represent- 
atives of the Church Militant on earth : as teachers 
and pastors, as logicians and advocates, they wrote, 
argued, contended, sutfered, and at length, after a 
long and tierce struggle against opposing doctrines, 
they fixed the articles of faith thereafter received in 
Christendom. For ages, and down to the present 
time, the prevailing creed has heen that which was 
founded on the interpretations of these venerable per- 
sonages. They have become, in consequence, frequent 
and important subjects of Art, particularly from the 
tenth century, — the period when, in their personal 
character, they began to be regarded not merely as 
gifted and venera!)le, but as divinely inspired ; their 
writings appealed to as infallible, their arguments ac- 
cepted as demonstration. We distinguish them as the 
Latin and the Greek. Fathers. In Western Art, we 
find the Latin Fathers perpetually grouped together, 
or in a scries : the Greek Fathers seldom occur excejit 
in their individual character, as saints rather than as 


The four Latin Doctors are St. Jerome, St. Am- 
brose, St. Augustine, and St. Gregory. When repre- 
sented together, tliey are generally distinguished from 
each other, and from the sacred personages who may 
be grou])ed in the same picture, by their conventional 
attributes. Thus St. Jerome is sometimes liabitcd in 
the red hat and crimson robes of a cardinal, uiih a 
church in his hand ; or he is a half-naked, 1 ald-hcaded, 
long-bearded, emaciated old man, Avith eager, wasted 
features, holding a book and ])en, and attended by a 
lion. St. Ambrose wears the episcopal robes as bishop 
of Milan, with mitre and crosier, and holds his book ; 
sometimes, also, he carries a knotted scourge, and a 
bee-hive is near liim. St. Augustine is also habited 
as a bishop, and carries a book ; he has often books at 
his feet, and sometimes a flaming heart transpierced by 
an arrow. The origin and signification of these sym- 
bols I shall explain presently. 

In the most ancient churches the Four Doctors are 
placed after the Evangelists. In the later churches 
they are seen combined or grouped with the Evan- 
gelists, occasionally also with the sibyls ; but this 
seems a mistake. Th.e appropriate place of the sibyls 
is neither with the Evangelists nor the Fathers, but 
aiuong tlie prophets, where Michael Angelo has placed 

Where the principal subject is the glory of Christ, 
or the coronation or assumption of the Virgin, the 
Four Fathers attend with their books as witnesses and 

1. A conspicuous instance of this treatment is the 
dome of San Giovanni at Parma. In the centre is 
the ascension of Christ, around arc the twelve apostles 
gazing upwards ; below them, in the spandrils of the 
arches, as if bearing record, are the Four Evangelists, 
each with a Doctor of the Church seated by liim as 
interpreter : St. Matthew is attended by St. Jerome ; 


St. Mark, by St. Gregory ; St. Lnke, by St. Augus- 
tine ; and St. John, by St. Ambrose. 

2. A picture in tlic Louvre by Pier-Franoc3''o Sacchi 
(a. d. 1840) rL'prescuts tlie Four Doctors, attcndod, or 
rat'ier inspired, l)V' the mvstic svinl)oIs of tlie Four 
Evangelists. They arc seated at a ta!>le, under a 
canopy sustained by slender ])illars, and appear in 
deep consultation : near St. Au-justinc is the eagle ; 
St. Gregory has the ox ; St. Jerome, the angel ; and 
St. Ambrose, the lion. 

3. In a -well-known woodcut af>er Titian, " Tlic 
Trinupli of Clu-ist," the lledeemer is seated in a 
oar dr.iwn by the Four Evanirelists ; wliilc the Four 
Liviin Doctors, one at each wheel, j)ut forth all their 
strength to urge it on. The patriarchs and prophets 
precede, the martyrs and confessors of the faith follow, 
in grand procession. 

4. In a Coronation of the Virgin, rery singularly 
treated, we have Christ and the Virgin on a high j)lat- 
form or throne, sustained by columns ; in the space 
underneath, between these columns, is a group of un- 
winged angels, holding the instruments of the Passion. 
(Or, as I have sometimes tliought, this beautiful group 
mvy 1)6 tiie souls of t!ie Innocents, their proper place 
being under the throne of Christ.) On each side a vast 
company of prophets, apostles, saints, and martyrs, 
ranged tier above tier. Immediately in front, and on 
the steps of the throne, arc the Four Evangelists, seated 
each with his symbol and book : behind them the Four 
Fathers, also seated. This picture, which as a painting 
is singularly beautiful, the execution finished, and the 
heads most characteristic and expressive, may be said 
to comprise a complete system of the theology of the 
mi. Idle ages.* 

5. We have the same idea carried out in tlte loAver 
part of Raphael's Disjjuta in the Vatican. Tbe Four 
Doctors arc in the centre of what may be called the 
sublunary part of the picture : they are the only seaited 

* Acad. Venice. Giovanni ed Antonio da Murano. 1440. 



fiy:ures iu the vast assembly of holy, wise, and learned 
men around ; St, Gregory arid St. Jerome on the right 
of the altar, St. Ambrose and St. Augustine on the 
left. As the two latter wear tlie same pai-aphernalia, 
they are distinguished by having books scattered at 
their feet, on which are inscribed the titles of their 
respective works. 

The Madonna and Child enthroned, with the Doc- 
tors of the Church standing on each side, is a sub- 
ject wliich has been often, and sometimes beautifully, 
treated •, and here the contrast between all we can con- 
ceive of virginal and infantine loveliness and innocence 
enshrined in heavenly peace and glory — and these sol- 
emn, bearded, grand-looking old Fathers, attending in 
humble i-everence, as types of earthly wisdom — ought 
to produce a magnificent effect, when conceived in the 
riglit spirit. I can remember, however, but few in- 
stances iu which the treatment is complete and satis- 

1. One of these is a picture by A. Vivarini (a. d. 
1446), now in the Academy at Venice. Here, the 
Virgin sits upon a throne under a rich canopy sus- 
tained by four little angels. She looks out of the 
picture with a most dignified, tranquil, goddess-like 
expression ; she wears, as usual, the crimson tunie 
and blue mantle, the latter being of a most brilliant 
azure ; on her brow, a magnificent jewelled crown ; 
the Divine Cliild stands on her knee, and raises his 
little hand to bless the worshipper. To the right of 
the Virgin, and on the platform of her throne, stands 
St. Jerome, robed as cardinal, and bearing his church ; 
with St. Gregory, habited as Pope. To the left stands 
St. Ambrose, holding his crosier and knotted scourge, 
and St. Augustine with his book. This is a wonder- 
ful picture, and, as a specimen of the early Venetian 
school, unequalled. The accuracy of imitation, the 
dazzling color, the splendid dresses and accessories, the 
grave beauty of the Madonna, the divine benignity of 

77/il FOrii LAY IS FATHKR^. 297 

the Infant Redeemer, and the sternly tlioughtful heads 
of tho old Doctors, are not only positively fine, l)Ut 
have a relative interest and value as hein^' stanipcd 
with that very peculiar character which belon<;ed to 
the Vivarini and their immediate followers. It was 
painted for the Scuola della Carita.* 

2. A different and a sin^'ular treatment of the Four 
Fathers occurs in another Venetian picture.! Christ 
is rcprci^euted seated on a throne, and dis];uling with 
the Jewish doctors, who are ca<rerly arguiii;^ or search- 
ing their hooks. In front of the composiiion stand St- 
Jerome, St. Ambrose, St. Aucrustine, and St. Grcjzory ; 
who, with looks lixed on the youtiiful Saviour, api)ear 
to be reverentially listening to, and recording, his 
words. This wholly poetical and ideal treatment of 
a familiar passage in the life of Christ I have never 
seen but in this one instance. 

3. A third example is a picture by IMoretto, of ex- 
traordinary beauty4 The Virgin sits on a lofty throne, 
to which there is an ascent of several steps ; the Child 
stands on her right ; she presses him to her with nui- 
ternal tenderness, and his arms arc round lier neik. 
At the foot of the throne stand St. Ambrose with his 
scourge, and St. Augustine ; St. Gregory, wearing the 
papal tiara, and without a beard, is seated on a step of 
the throuc, holding an open book ; and St. Jerome, 

* As I have frequent occasion to refer to pictures painted for 
the Sciiole of Venice, it may b-i as well to obs-rve Ihac tho worl 
scuola, wliich we translate school, is not a place of educatijn, 
but a confraternity for charitable purposes, — visiting tlij sick, 
pr.jviJing hospitals, adopting orphans, reilCL-ming pris )ners and 
captives, &c. In the days of the republic these schools were 
richly supported and endowed, and the halls, church.s, an.l 
chapels attached to thtm were often gallerits of art : sucli wera 
ths schools of St. Mark, St. Ursula, St. Roch, the ~ 
others. Unhappily, they exist no longer ; the Frer 
thsir funds, aad Austria does not like c >nfrateriii 
Ihe Scuola della Cudtl is now the AcadcQii^-^i 
r Acad. Venice. Gio. da Udine. v^T^' . V Ol 
t Frankfort Museum. ''^'^.v^X' ■! 


kneeling on one knee, points to a passage in it ; he 
wears the cardinal's dress complete. Tiiis picture is 
Avorthv of Titian in the ricimess of the cliisct, with a 
more sober grandeur in the color. The Virgin is too 
much like a jjorirait ; this is the only fault.* 

In the Chapel of San Lorenzo, in the Vatican, An- 
gclico has painted eight Doctors of the Church, single 
majestic iigurcs standing under Gothic canopies. Ac- 
cording to the names noio to be seen inscribed on tlie 
pedestals beneath, these figures represent St. Jerome,! 
St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Gregory, St. Athana- 
sius, St. Leo, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Thomas 
Aquinas. St. John Chrysostom and St. Athanasius 
represent the Greek doctors. St. Leo, Avho saved 
Rome from Attila, is with peculiar propriety placed 
in the Vatican ; and St. Thomas Aquinas, the angelic 
doctor, naturally finds a place in a chapel painted by a 
Dominican for a Pope who particularly favored the 
Domiuicans, — Kicholas V. 

The Four Fathers communing on the mystery of 
the Trinity, or the Immaculate Conception, were fa- 
vorite subjects in the beginning of the seventeenth 
century, when Church pictures, instead of being relig- 
ious and devotional, became more and more theologi- 
cal. There is an admirable picture of this subject by 
Dosso Dossi.f Above is seen the Messiah, as Creator, 

* "We missed the opportunity, now never more to be recalled, of 
obtaining this admirable picture when it was sold out of the Fesch 

t I believe the figure called St. Bonaventura to represent St. 
Jerome, because, in accordance with the usual scheme of ecclesi- 
astical decuration, the greatest of the four Latin fathers would 
take the first place, and the cardinal's hat and the long flowing 
beard are his proper attribute •, whereas there is no ex:imple of a 
St. Bonaventura with a beard, or wearing the monastic habit with- 
out the Franciscan cord. The Arundel Society have engraved thia 
fine figure under the name of St. Bonaventura. 

X Dresden Gal. 



in a {■."loiy ; he lays his hand on the head of the Vir- 
•rin, Avho kneels in deep humility hcfore liim ; St. 
Gre.2:ory sits in profound thouuht, a pen in one liand, 
a tablet in the other ; St. Ambrose and Si. Au,nustinc 
are siniiiarly engai^ed ; St. Jerome, to whom alone the 
celestial vision appears to bo visible, is looking up Aviih 
awe and wonder. Guido, in a celebrated picture,* has 
represented the Doctors of the Ciuurh communing on 
the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin. The iig- 
ures are admirable for thoughtful depth of character in 
the e.xpression, and for the noble arrangement of the 
draperies ; above is seen the Virgin, floating amid 
clouds, in snow-white drapery, and sustained by an- 
gels ; visible, howevei', to St. Jerome and St. Ambrose 

Eubens has treated the Fathers several times ; the 
colossal picture in the Grosvenor Gallery is well known, 
where they ajipcar before us as moving along in a 
grand procession : St. Jerome comes last (he sliould 
be first ; but on these points Rubens was not partic- 
ular) : he seems in deep contemplation, enveloped in 
the rich scarlet robes of a cardinal of the seventeenth 
century, and turning the leaves of his great book. In 
another picture we have the Four Fathers seated, dis- 
cu.ising the mystery of the Eucharist ; St. Jerome 
points to a passage in the Scriptures ; St. Greuory is 
turning tlic page ; they appear to be engaged in argu- 
ment ; tlie other two are listening earncs;ly. There is 
another ])icturc by Ivubens i,i which the usual attributes 
of t!ie Fathers arc Lome aloft by angels, while they sit 
communiug below. 

These examples will suffice to give a general idea of 
the manner in which the four great Doctor^ of the 
Western Church are grouped in devotional pictures. 
We will now consider them separately, each according 
to his individual character and history. 

* Imp. Gal., St. Petersburg. 


St. Jerome. 

Lat. Smctus Hi^ronymus. ItaL Geronimo or Girolamo. Fr. 
S.ii:.t Jerome, Hicrome, or Gtroisme. Gtr. Der Heiligt- Iliero- 
nimus. Patron of scholars antl students, and more particularly 
of students in theology. S:ipt. CO, A. D. 429. 

Of the four Latin Doctors, St. Jerome, as a subject 
of painting', is by far tlic most popular. The rcai^oris 
for tliis are not merely the exccediugly interesting and 
striking character of the man, and the picturesque inci- 
dents of liis life, but also his great importance and dig- 
nity as founder of Monachism in the West, and as au- 
thor of the universally received translation of the Old 
and New Testament into the Latin language (called 
"The Vulgate"). There is scarcely a collection of 
pictures in which we do not find a St. Jerome either 
doing penance in the desert, or writing his famous 
translation, or meditating on the mystery of the Incar- 

Jerome was born about a. d. 342, at Stridonium, in 
Dalmatia. His father, Eusebius, was rich ; and as he 
showed the happiest disposition for learning, he was 
sent to Rome to finish his studies. There, through his 
own passions, and the evil example of his (omjjanions, 
he foil into temptation, and for a time abandoned him- 
self to worldly ])leasures. But the love of virtue, as 
well as the love of learning, was still strong within him : 
he look up the jirofession of law, and became celebrat- 
ed for his eloquence in pleading before the trilunals. 
When more than thirty, he travelled into Gaul, and 
visited the schools of learning there. It was about this 
time that he was baptized, and vowed himself to per- 
petual celibacy. In 373, he travelled into the East, to 
animate his piety by dwelling for a time among the 
scenes hallowed by the presence of the Saviour; and, 
on his way thither, he visited some of the famous Ori- 

ST. JEROME. 301 

ental hermits and ascetics, of whom he has piven us 
Buch a graphic account, and whose example inspired 
him with a passion for solitude and a monastic hfe. 
Shortly afcer his arrival in Syria, he retired to a desert 
in Chalcis, on the contines of Aral)ia, and there he 
spent four years in study and seclusion, supporting 
liimself by the labor of his hands. He has left us a 
most vivid picture of his life of ])cnancc in the wilder- 
ness ; of his trials and temptations, his fastings, his 
sickness of soul and body : and we must dwell for a 
moment on his own description, in onlcr to show with 
what literal and circumstantial truth the painters have 
rendered it. He says, in one of his epistles, " O, how 
often in the desert, in that vast solitude which, parched 
by the sultry sun, affords a dwelling to the monks, did 
I fancy myself in the midst of the luxuries of Rome ! 
I sat alone, for I was full of bitterness. My mis- 
shapen limbs were rough with sackcloth, and my skiu 
so squalid that I might have been mistaken for an Ethi- 
opian. Tears and groans were my occupation every 
day and all day long. If sleep surprised mo unawares, 
my naked bones, which scarcely held together, rattled 
on the earth." His companions, he says, " were scor- 
pions and wild beasts " ; iiis home, " a recess among 
rocks and precipices." Yet, in the midst of this hor- 
rible self-torture and self-abasement, he describes him- 
self as frequently beset by temptations to sin and sen- 
sual indulgence, and liaunted by demons : at other limes, 
as consoled l)y voices and visions from heaven. Be- 
sides these trials of the flesh and the spirit, he had others 
of the intellect. His love of learning, his admiration 
of tlie great writers of classical anti(iuity, — of Tlato 
and Cicero, — made him impatient of tiic rude simpli- 
city of the Christian historians. He dcscrii)cs Ifunself 
as fasting before he opened Cicco ; and, as a furiher 
penance, he forced himself to stusly Hebrew, Aviiich at 
Urst filled him with disgust, and this disgust ai)pcared 
to him a capital sin. In one of his distempered aIs- 
ions, he fancied he heard the last trumpet sounded iu 


his ear by an angel, and summoning him before the 
judgment-seat of God. " Who art thou V " demanded 
tlie awful voice. " A Christian/' replied tlie trembling 
Jerome. " 'T is false ! " replied the voi( c, " thou art 
no Chi-istian : thou art a Ciceronian. Whore the iretis- 
ure is, there will the heart be also." He ])crsevcrcd, 
and conquered the difficulties of Hebrew ; and then, 
wearied by the religious controversies in the East, 
afcer ten years' residence there, he returned to Eome. 

But neither the Of)position he had met with, nor his 
four jears of solitude and penance in the desert, had 
sul)dued the fiery enthusiasm of temperament which 
characterized this celebrated man. At Rome he boldly 
combated the luxurious self-indulgence of the clergy, 
and preached religious abstinence and mortilication. 
He was particularly remarkable for the influence lie 
obtained over the Roman women ; we find them, sub- 
dued or excited by his eloquent exhortations, devoting 
themselves to perpetual chastity, distributing their pos- 
sessions among the poor, or spending their days in at- 
tendance on the sick, and ready to follow their teacher 
to the Holy Land, — to the desert, — even to death. His 
most celebrated female convert was Paula, a nol)le Ro- 
man matron, a descendant of liie Scipios and tl.e Grac- 
chi. Marcclla, anollicr of tliese Roman ladies, was the 
first who, in the East, collected together a number of 
pious women to dwell together in comnmnity : hence 
slic is, by some authors, considered as the first nun ; 
but others contentl that ^Martha, tlic sister of Mary 
jMagdalene, was the first who fouuded a religious com- 
munity of women. 

After three years' sojoui'n at Rome, St. Jerome re- 
turned to Palestine, and took up his residence in a 
monastery he had founded at Bethlehem. AVhen, in 
extrenje old age, he became sensible of the r.jiproacli 
of death, he raised with effort his emaciated liml.s, and, 
commanding himself to be carried into the chapel of 
the monastery, he received the sacrament for the last 
time from the hands of the priest, and soon after ex- 

ST. JEROME. 303 

pircd. He died in 420, leaving, besides his famous 
translation of the Sc-riptures, numerous controversial 
writinj^^s, epistles, and commentaries. 

We read in the legendary history of St- Jerome, 
that one evening, as he sat within the gates of his 
monastery at Bjthlehem, a lion entered, limping, as in 
pain ; and all the brethren, when tiiey saw tlic lion, fled 
in terror : but Jerome arose, and went forward to meet 
him, as though he had been a guest. And ilic lion 
lifted up his paw, and St. Jerome, on examining it, 
found that it was wounded l)y a thorn, wliich he extract- 
ed ; and he tended the lion till he was healed. Tlio 
grateful beast remained with his benefactor, and Jerome 
contiiled to him the task of guarding an ass which was 
employed in bringing firewood from the forest. On 
one occasion, the lion having gone to sleep while the 
ass was at pasture, some merchants passing by carried 
away the latter ; and the lion after searching for him 
in vain, returned to the monastery with drooping head, 
as one ashamed. St. Jerome, believing that ho had 
devoured his companion, commanded tliat the daily 
task of the ass should be laid upon the lion, and that the 
fagots should be bound on his back, to which he mag- 
nanimously submitted, until the ass was recovered; 
wliicli was in this wise. One day, the lion, having fin- 
ished his task, ran hither and thither, still seeking liis 
companion ; and he saw a caravan of merchnnts ap- 
proaching, and a string of camels, which, according to 
the Arabian custom, were led by an ass ; and when tlie 
lion recognized his friend, he drove the camels into the 
coiivent, and so terrified the merchants, that they con- 
fessed the theft, and received pardon from St. Jerome. 

The introduction of the lion into pictures of St. 
Jerome is supposed to refer to this legend ; but In this 
instance, as in many others, the reverse was really the 
case. The lion was in very ancient times adopted 
as the symbol befiting St. Jerome, from his fervid, 
fiery nature, and his life in the wilderness ; and in 


later times, the legend invented to explain the symbol 
was gradually expanded into the story as given above. 

Representations of St. Jerome, in pictures, prints, 
and sculpture, are so numerous that it were in vain to 
attempt to give any detailed account of them, even of 
the most remarkable. All, however, may be included 
under tlie following classification, and, according to the 
descriptions given, may be easily recognized. 

The devotional subjects and single figures represent 
St. Jerome in one of his three great characters. 1. 
As Patron Saint and Doctor of the Church. 2. As 
Translator and Commentator of the Scriptures. 3. 
As Penitent. As Doctor of the Church, and teacher, 
he enters into every scheme of decoration, and finds a 
place in all sacred buildings. As Saint and Penitent, 
he is chiefly to Ixi found in the convents and churches 
of the Jeronymites, who claim him as their Patriarch. 

When placed before us as the patron saint and father 
of divinity, he is usually standing full length, cither 
habited in the cardinal's robes, or with the cardinal's 
hat Iving at his feet. It mav be necessarv to observe, 
that there is no historical authoritA^ for making St. Je- 
rome a cardinal. Cardinal-priests were not ordained 
till three centuries later ; but as the other Fathers were 
all of high ecclesiastical rank, and as St. Jerome olisii- 
nately refused all such distinction, it has been thought 
necessary, for the sake of his dignity, to make him a 
cardinal : another reason may be, that he performed, in 
the court of Pope Dalmasius, those oflfices since dis- 
charged by the cardinal-deacon. In some of the old 
Venetian pictures, instead of the official robes of a car- 
dinal, he is habited in loose, ample red drapery, part of 
which is thrown over his head. When represented 
with his head uncovered, his forehead is lofty and bald, 
bis beard is very long, flowing even to his girdle ; his 
features fine and sharp, his nose aquiline. In his hand 
he holds a book or a scroll, and frequently the emble- 
matical church, of wliich he was the great support and 

ST. JEROME. 305 

luminary : and, to make the application stronger and 
cl'^u'er, rays of light are seen issiuing from tlic door of 
the church. 

1. A signal instance of the treatment of Jerome as 
patron saint occurs in a fine picture by "Wohlgemuth, 
the master of Albert Diircr.* It is an altar-piece rcp- 
reseatin<r the glorification of the saint, and consists of 
three compartments. In the centre, St. Jerome stands 
on a magnificent throne, and lays his left hand on the 
head of a lion, raised uj) on his hind legs : the donors 
of the picture, a man and a woman, kneel in front ; on 
each side arc windows opening on a landscape, wherein 
various incidents of the life of St. Jerome are repre- 
sented ; on the right, liis Penance in the Wilderness 
and his Landing at Cyprus ; and on the left, the mcr- 
cliants who had carried off the ass, bring propitiatory 
gifts, which the saint rejects, and other men are seen 
felling wood and loading the lion. On the inner shut- 
ters or wings of the central picture are represented, on 
the right, the three other doctors, — St. Augustine, 
with the flaming heart; St, Ambrose, with the bee- 
hive; both habited as bishops; and St. Gregory, wear- 
ing his tiara, and holding a large book (liis famous 
Homilies) in his hand. On the left, three apostles with 
their proper attributes, St. Andrew, St. Thomas, and 
St. Bartholomew ; on the. other side are i-eprescnted to 
the riglit, St. Henry II. holding a church (the cathedral 
of Bamiicrg), and a sword, his proper attributes; and 
his wife St. Cunegunda.t On the left St. Elizabeth of 
Hungary and St. Martin. There are besides, to close 
in the whole, two outer doors : on the inner side, to 
the right, St. Joseph and St. Kilian ; f on the left, St. 
Catlierine and St. Ursula ; and on the exterior of the 
whole the mass of St. Gregory, with \ariou3 persou- 

* Vienna Gal. 

t In the catalogue, St. Cunegunda is styled St. Elizabeth, 
Queen of Hungarij, and St. Elizabeth of llungary is styled St. 
Elizabeth, Queen 'of Portugal. 

\ Irish Bishop of Wu rtzburg, and Patron, A. D. 689 


ages and objects connected with tho Fassion of Christ. 
The whole is about six feet bigh, dated 1511, rtid n)ay 
bciir a comparison, for elaborate and muitifarious derail 
and exquisite painting, Avitli the famous Vau -Lyek 
altar-piece in St. John's Church at Ghent* 

2. In his character of patron, St. Jerome is a fre- 
quent subject of sculpture. There is a Gothic figure 
of liim in Henry the Seventh's Chapel, habited iu tho 
cardinal's robes, the lion fawning upon him. 

When St. Jerome is represented in his second great 
character, as the translator of the Scriptures, he is 
usually seated iu a cave or in a cell, busied iu reading 
or in writing ; he wears a loose robe thrown over his 
wasted form ; and cither he looks down intent on his 
book, or he looks up as if awaiting heavenly inspira- 
tion : sometimes an angel is dictating to him. 

1. In an old Italian print, which I have seen, he is 
seated on the ground reading, in spectacles; — an an- 
achronism frequent in the old painters. Sometimes 
he is seated under the shade of a tree ; or within a 
cavern, writing at a rude table formed of a stump of a 
tree, or a board laid across two fragments of rock ; as 
in a beautiful picture by Ghirlandajo, remarkable for 
its solemn and tranquil feeling.f 

2. Very celebrated is an fengraving of this subject 
by Albert Diirer. The scene is the interior of a cell, 
at Bethlehem ; two windows on the left ])0ur across the 
picture a stream of sunshine, which is represented with 
wonderful effect. St. Jerome is seen in the background, 
seated at a desk, most intently writing his translation 
of the Scriptures ; in front the lion is crouching, and a 

* " In this picture we recognize the master to whom Albert 
Dijrer was indebted for his education ; indeed, Wohlgemutii hers 
surpasses his great schokxr in the cxpressiim of gentleness and sim- 
plicity, particularly in the heads of some of the fjraale sai:;ts."— ■ 
Handbook of Paintimj: German, Flemish, and Dutch HchoolSf 
p. 111. 

t Florence, Ogni Santi. 



fox is seen asleep. These two animals are here em- 
blems ; — the one, of the coura,<:^e and viirilancc, the 
otiier of t'.ie wisdom or acuteness, of tlie saint. The 
cxei'uaon of this i)nnt is a miracle of x\rt, and it is 
very rare. Tlicre is an cxqnisitc little picture liy Elz- 
hcimer copied from it, and of the same size, at Hamp- 
ton Court. I nee l hardly o'>serve, that here the rosary 
and tlic pot of holy water arc anachronisms, as well as 
tliG cardinal's hat. By Albert Diirer we have also St. 
Jjro:n3 writin:^ in a cavern; and St. Jci-orae reading 
iu his cell : both woodcuts. 

3. Even more beautiful is a print by Lncas v. Lcy- 
d3n, in wliit-h Sc. Jerome is reclining in his cell and 
reading intently, the lion licks his foot. 

4. In a picture by Lucas Cranach, Albert of Bran- 
denburg, elector of Mayence (1527), is represcitcd in 
the character of St. Jerome, seated in the wilderness, 
and writing at a tal)le formed of a plank laid across 
two stumps of trees : he is in the cardinal-robes ; and 
in the foreground a lion, a hare, a beaver, a partridge, 
and a hind, beautifully painted, express the solitude of 
liis life. In the background t!ie caravan of merchants 
is seen entering the gate of the monastery, conducted 
by the faithful lion. 

5. Tiie little picture by Domenichino, in our Na- 
tional Gallery, represents St. Jerome looking up from 
his book, and listening to the accents of the angel. 

6. In a picture by Tiarini,* it is St. Jolm the Evan- 
gelist, and not an amcl, wlio dictates wliilc ho writes. 

7. In a picture by Titian, St. Jerome, soated, holds a 
book, and gazes up at a cruvitix suspended in the skies; 
the lion is drinking at a fountain. Out of twenty 
prints of St. Jerome after Titian, there are at least 
eight wiiicli represent him at study or writing. 

It is in tlic double character of Doctor of the Church, 
and translator of the Scriptm-es, that we find St. Je- 
rome so frequently introduced into pictures of tha 

* Bologna, S. Maria Maggiore. 


Madonna, and j^rouped with other saints. Two of the 
most celebrated pictures iu tlie world suirgest them- 
selves here as examples: — 1. "The Madonna della 
Pcsc-c " of Raphael ; where the Virgin, seated on a 
raised throne, holds the Infant Christ in her arms; on 
licr right liand, the archangel Raphael presents the 
young To!)ias, wlio ho'.ds the tish, the emhlem of Chris- 
tianity or Baptism. On the other side kneels St. Je- 
rome, holding an open book, liis beard sweeping to his 
girdle; the lion at his feet; the Infant Christ, while 
he bends forward to greet Tobias, has one hand upon 
St. Jerome's book : the whole is a beautiful and ex- 
pressive allegory.* 2. Correggio's pictm-e, called " The 
St. Jerome of Parma," represents the Infant Christ on 
tlie knees of his mother : Mary INIagdalene bends to 
kiss his feet : St. Jerome stands iu front, presenting his 
translation of the Scriptures. 

The penitent St. Jerome seems to ha^-e been adopted 
throughout the Christian Church as the approved sym- 
bol of Christian penitence, self-denial, and self-abase- 
ment. Ko devotional subject, if we except the " Ma- 
donna and Child " and the " Magdalene," is of such 
per])etual recurrence. In the treatment it has been in- 
finitely varied. The scene is generally a wild, rocky 
solitude: St. Jerome, half naked, emaciated, with mat- 
ted hair and beard, is seen on his knees before a cruci- 
fix, beating liis breast with a stone. The lion is almost 
always introdn ed, sometimes asleep, or crouching at 
liis feet ; somcumes keeping guard, sometimes drinking 
at a stream. Tiie most magnificent examijle cf this 
treatment is by Titian :t St. Jerome, kneeling on ons 
knee, half supported by a craggy rock, and holding the 
stone, looks up with eager devotion to a cross, artlessly 
fixed into a cleft in the rock ; two books lie on a cliff 

* The picture, originally at Naples, was purchased or appropri- 
ated by Philip IV. for the Church of the Escurial, which belonged 
t) the .Irronymites. 

t Milan, Brera, 



neliiiid ; at his feet are a skull and hour-glass ; and the 
lion reposes in front. The feeling of deep solitude, 
and a kind of sacred horror l)reathed over tliis ])ic'turc, 
are inconccivaMy fine and impressive. Another by 
Titian, but inferior, is in the Louvre : and there are at 
least twelve engravings of St. Jerome doing penunee, 
after the same painter : among them a superb land- 
scape, in which are seen a lion and a lioness prowling 
in the wilderness, while the saint is doing penance in 
the foreground. By Agostino Caracci there is a famous 
engraving of " St. Jerome doing penance in a cave," 
called from its size the c/reat St. Jerome. But to par- 
ticularize further would be endless : I know scarcely 
any Italian painter since the fifteenth century who has 
not treated this subject at least once. 

The Spanish painters have rendered it with a gloomy 
power, and revelled in its mystic significance. In the 
Spanish gallery of the Louvre I counted at least twenty 
St. Jeromes : the old German painters and engravers 
also delighted in it, on account of its picturesque capa- 

Albert Diirer represents St. Jerome kneeling before 
a crucifix, which he has suspended against the trunk 
of a massy tree ; an open book is near it ; he holds in 
his right liand a flint-stone, with which he is about to 
strike. his breast, all wounded and bleeding from tlic 
blows already inflicted ; the lion crouches behind him, 
and in the distance is a stag. 

The penitent St. Jerome is not a good subject for 
sculpture; the undraped, meagre form, and the abase- 
ment of sutFjring, are disagreeable in this treatment : 
yet such representations are constantly met with in 
churclies. Tiie famous colossal statue by Torrigiano, 
now in the Museum at Seville, represents St. Jerome 
kneeling on a rock, a stone in one hand, a crucifix in 
t!i3 other. At Venice, in the Frai'i, there is a statue 
of St. Jerome, standing, with the stone in his hand and 
the lion at his feet ; too majestic for the Penitent. 
There are several other statues of St. Jerome at \'en- 


ice, from the Liberi and Lombarcli scliools, all fine as 
statues ; but the penitent saiut is idealized into the pa- 
tron-saint of penitents. 

When figures of St. Jerome as penitent are intro- 
duced in Madonna pictures, or iu the Passion of Christ, 
then such tiLiurcs are devotional, and symbolical, in a 
jicneral sense, of Cliristian repentance. 

There is an early picture of llie Crucifixion, by 
Raphael,* in which he lias placed St. Jerome at the 
foot of the cross, beating his breast with a stone. 

Tlie pictures from llic life of St. Jerome comjirise a 
variety of sultjects : — 1. "He receives tlie cardinal's- 
hat from the Virgin " : sometimes it is ilie Infant Christ, 
seated in the lap of the Virgin, Avho presents it to him. 
2. " He disputes with the Jewish doctors on the truth 
of the Christian religion " ; in a curious picture by Juan 
de Valdes.t He stands on one side of a table in an 
attitude of authority : the rabbi, each of whom lias a 
demon looking over his slioulder, are searciiing their 
books for arguments against him. .3. " St. Jerome, 
Avhile studying Hebrew in the solitude of Chalcida, 
hears in a vision the sound of the last trumpet, calling 
men to judgment." This is a common subject, and 
styled " The Vision of St. Jerome." 1 have met with 
no example earlier than the fifteenth centur}-. In gen- 
eral he is lying on the ground, and an angel sounds 
the trumpet from above. In a composition by Ribera 
he holds a pen in one hand ai:d a penknife in the otiicr : 
he seems to liaAC been arrested in the very act of mend- 
ing his pen by the blast of tb.e trumpet : the figure of 
the saint, wasted even to skin and bone, and his look 
of petrified amazement, are very fiijc, r.otwiilisianding 
the commonjilaf e action. In a ])icture by Subleyras, 
in the Louvre, St. Jerome is gazing upwards, with an 
astonislied look ; three archangels sound their trumpets 
from above. In a picture by Antonio Pereda, at Ma- 
drid, St. Jerome not only hears iu his vision tlic sound 
of the last trump, he sees the dead arise from their 

* Collection of Lord Ward. f Lou^Te, Sp. Gal 

ST. J ESC Mi'. y\ 

g:raves b/ouiici him. Lastly, hy way of e^imj^x, \ may 
mention a picture in tlic Louvre, by a luOQcrn ^lonch 
]):iinicr, Sij^alon : St. Jerome Is in a rouYu'cdw fit, and 
the tlirce angels, blowini^ their tru.-'ipcts in Ins cars, 
flre like furies sent to torment and uuidden the sinner, 
rather than to rouse the saint. 

"While (loins: penance in the desert, St. Jerome was 
Bometimcs haunted by temptations, as well as amazed 
by terrors. 

4. Domenichino, in one of the frescos in St. Ono- 
frio, represents the i)articular kind of temptation by 
which the saint was in imagination assailed : while he 
is fervently praying and l)catiui;- his breast, a circle of 
beautiful nymphs, seen in the backjiround, weave a 
graceful dance. Vasari lias had the bad taste to give 
us a penitent St. Jerome with Venus and Cupids in the 
background : one arch little Cupid takes aim at him ; 
— an otFensive instance of the extent to which, in the 
sixteenth century, classical ideas had mingled with and 
depraved Christian Art.* 

5. Guido. " St. Jerome translating the Scriptures 
while an angel dictates": liie-size and very line (ex- 
cept the angel, wlio is weak, and reminds one of a 
water-nymph);! in his pale manner. 

G. Domenichino. " St. Jerome is flagellated by an 
angel for preferring Cicero to the llel)rc\v writings " : 
also ill iho St. Oaofrio. The Cicero, torn from his 
hand, lies at his feet. Here the saint is a young man, 
and the whole s;-enc is represented as a vision. 

7. Bat St. Jerome was comforted by visions of 
glory, as we'd as haunted by terrors and tompiations. 
lu tlie picture by Parmigiano, in our National Gallery, 
St. Jerome is sleeping in the background, while St. 
Joini the Baptist jjoints upwards to a celestial vision 
of the Virgin and Child, seen in the opening heavens 
above : the upper part of this picture is beautiful, and 

* P. Pitti, Florence. t Lichteasteia Gal- 


full of dignity ; but the saint is lying stretched on the 
earth in an attitude so uneasy and distorted, that it 
Avould seem as if he Avere condemned to do penance 
even in his sleep ; and the St. Jolin has always ap- 
peared to me mannered and theatrical. 

8. The stoiy of the lion is often represented. St. 
Jerome is seated in his cell, attired in tlic monk's hahit 
and cowl ; tlie lion ajiproaches, and lays his paw ui)on 
his knee ; a cardinal's hat and books arc lying near 
him ; and, to express the self-denial of the saint, a 
mouse is peeping into an empty cup.* 

In another cxami)le, by Vittore Carpaccio, the lion 
enters the cell, and three monks, attendants on St. Je- 
rome, flee in terror. 

9. The Last Communion of St. Jerome is the sub- 
ject of one of the most celebrated pictures in the 
world, — the St. Jerome of Domenichino, which has 
been thought worthy of being placed opposite to the 
Transfiguration of Eaphael, in the Vatican. The 
aged saint — feeble, emaciated, dying — is borne in 
the arms of his disciples to the chajjel of his monas- 
tery, and placed within the porch. A young priest 
sustains him ; St. Paula, kneeling, kisses one of his 
thin, bony hands ; the saint fixes his eager eyes on tlic 
countenance of the priest, who is about to administer 
the sacrament, — a noble, dignified figure in a rich 
ecclesiastical dress ; a deacon holds the cup, and an 
attendant priest the book and taper ; the lion droops 
his head witli an expression of grief; the eyes and 
attention of all are on tiie dying saint, while four an- 
gels, hovering above, look down upon the scene. 

Agostino Caracci, in a grand picture now in the Bo- 
logna Gallery, liad previously treated the same sul jcct 
with much feeling and dramatic ])ower : but here the 
saint is not so wasted and so feeble ; St. Paula is not 
present, and the lion is tenderly licking his feet. 

* Kugler pronounces this to be a Flemish picture (v. " Han* 
book," p. 190). 

ST. JEROME. 313 

Older tlian either, and very beautiful and solemn, is 
a picture by Vittore Carpaccio, in which the t^aint is 
kneeling in the porcli of a church, surrounded by his 
disciples, and the lion is seen outside. 

10. " Tiie Death of St. Jerome." In the picture 
bv Stamina he is givint; his last instructions to his dis- 
ciples, and the expression of solemn grief in the old 
heads around is very line. la a Spanish jjicturc he is 
extended on a couch, made of hurdles, and expires in 
the arms of his monks. 

Ill a very fine anonymous print, dated 1614, St. Je- 
rome is dying alone in his cell (this version of the 
subject is contrary to all authority and precedent): he 
presses to his bosom the Gospel and the crucifix ; the 
lion looks up in his face roaring, and angels bear away 
his soul to heaven. 

11. "The Obsequies of St. Jerome." In the pic- 
ture l)y Vittore Carpaccio, the saint is extended on the 
ground before the high altar, and the priests around 
are kneeling in various attitudes of grief or devotion. 
The lion is seen on one side.* 

I will mention here some other pictures in which St. 
Jerome ligures as the principal personage. 

St. Jerome introducing Charles V. into Paradise is 
the su1)ject of a lartre fresco, by Luca Giordano, on the 
staircase of the Escurial. 

St. Jerome conversing with two nuns, probably in- 
tended for St. Paula and St. ]\Iarcclla.t 

Tiic sleep of St. Jerome. IIo is Avatched by two 
angels, one of whom, with his linger on his lip, com- 
mands silence. t 

It is worth remarking, that in the old Venetian pic- 

* Thi three frescos by Carpaccio ara ia the Church of Saa Gior- 
gio <le' Schiavoni at Veuice. 

t It was in the Standish Gal. ia the Louvre. 
+ Engraved by Loli. 


tures St. Jerome does not wear the proper habit and 
hat of a cardinal, but an ample scarlet robe, part of 
which is thrown over his head as a hood. 

The history of St. Jerome, in a series, is often found 
in tlic churclies and convents of the Jcronymites, and 
generally consists of the folio wins: subjects, of which 
the fourth and sixth are often omitted : — 

1. He is ba])lized. 2. He receives th.c cardinal's hat 
from the Virgin. 3. He does penance in the desert, 
beating his breast with a stone. 4. He meets St. 
Auuustine. 5. He is studying- or writing in a cell. 
6. He builds the convent at Bethlehem. 7. He heals 
the wounded lion. 8. He receives the Last Sacrament. 
9. He dies in the presence of his disciples. 10. He is 

Considering that St. Jerome has ever been venerated 
as one of the great lights of the Cburch, it is singular 
that so few churches are dedicated to him. There is 
one at Eomc, erected, according to tradition, on the 
very spot where stood the house of Santa Paula, wliere 
s!ie eniertained St. Jerome during his sojourn at Eome 
in 382. For t!ie high altar of this cliurcii, Domeni- 
c'iino painted his masterpiece of the Communion of 
Sr. Jerome already described. The eml)arkation of 
Saint Paula, to follow her spiritual teacher St. Jerome 
to rlie Holy Land, is the subject of one of Claude's 
most beautiful sea pieces, now in the collection of the 
Duke of Wellington ; another picture of this sul ject, 
(lie ligures r.s large as life, is in the Brera, by a clever 
CreniOiiesc painter, Guiseppc Bottoni. 

St. Jerome has detained us long ; the other Fathers 
are, as subjects of Art, much less interesting. 


St. Ambrose 

Lat. S. Ambrosius. Ital. Sant' Ambrozio. Tr. St. Ambross. 
Ger. Der Ileilio'e Ambrosius. Patron saint of Miluu. April -i, 
A. D. 337. 

"We can hardly imajjinc a jxrcatcr than be- 
tween the stern, entluisiastic, dreanunjr, ascetic Jerome, 
and the states'.nanhkc, practual, somewhat despotic 
Ambrose. This extraordiiuiry man, in whose ]tcr.-on 
the priestly character assumed an im[tortance and (1;<t- 
nity till then unknown, was the son of a ]irefecc of 
Gaul, bearinfj tlie same name, and was born at Treves 
in the year -340. It is said, that, when an infant in the 
cradle, a swarm of bees alighted on his mouth, without 
injuring him. The same story was told of Plato and 
of xVrchilo'jhus, and considered prophetic of future elo- 
quence. It is from this circumstance that St. Ambrose 
is represented with the beehive near him. 

Young Ambrose, after jiursuing his studies at Rome 
with success, was appointed prefect of iEmilia and Li- 
guria (Piedmont and Genoa), and took up his residence 
at Milan. Sliortly afrerwards the Bishop of Milan 
died, and the su.-cession was hotly disputed between the 
Catholics and the Arians. Ambrose appeared in liis 
character of prefect, to allay the tumult ; he harangued 
the people with such persuasive eloquence that they 
were huslied into respectful silence ; and in the midst a 
child's voice was heard to exclaim, " Ambrose shall be 
bishop ! " The multitude took up the cry as though 
it had been a voice from heaven, and compelled liim to 
assume the sacred office. He attempted to avoid the 
honor thus laid upon him by flight, by entreaties, — 
pleading that, though a professed Christian, he had 
never been baptized. In vain! The command of the 
emperor enforced the wishes of tlie people; and Am- 
brose, being baptized, was, Avithin eight days afterwards, 
\:onsecrated l)ishop of Milan. He has since been re- 
garded as the patron saint of that city. 


He began by distributing all bis worldly goods to 
tbe poor ; he then set himself to study the sacred writ- 
ings, and to render himself in all respects worthy of 
his liigli dignity. "Tlie Old and the [New Testament," 
says Mr. ^Nlilman, " met in the person of Ambrose : 
the implacable hostility to idolatry, the abhorrence of 
every deviation from the established formulary of be- 
lief; — the wise and courageous benevolence, the gen- 
erous and unselfish devotion to the great interests of 

He was memorable for the grandeur and magnifi- 
cence with which he invested the ceremonies of worship; 
they had never been so imposing. He particularly cul- 
tivated music, and introduced from the East the man- 
ner of chanting the service since called the Ambrosian 
chant. ^ 

Two things were especially remarkable in the life 
and character of St. Ambrose. The first was the en- 
thusiasm with wliich he advocated celibacy in both 
sexes : on this topic, as we are assured, he was so per- 
suasive, that motliers shut up their daughters lest they 
should be seduced by their eloquent bisliop into vows 
of chastity. The other was his determination to set 
the ecclesiastical above the sovereign or civil power : 
this principle, so abused in later times, was in the days 
of Ambrose the assertion of the might of Christianity, 
of mercy, of justice, of freedom, over heatb.enism, tyr- 
anny, cruelty, slavery. The dignity with which he 
refused to hold any communication with the Emperor 
]Maximus, because he was stained with the blood of 
Gratian, and his resolute opposition to the Empress 
Justina, who interfered Avith his sacerdotal privileges, 
were two instances of this spirit. But the most cele- 
brated incident of his life is liis conduct with regard to 
the Emperor Theodosius, the last great emperor of 
Eome ; — a man of an iron v/ill, a despot, and a war- 
rior. That he should bend in trembling submission at 
the feet of an unai-med priest, and shrink before his re- 

ST. AMBROSE. t^i-j 

buke, filled the whole world with an awful idea of the 
supremacy of the Church, and prepared the way for 
the Hilde'arands, the Perettis, the Carattiis of later 
times. With regard to St. Ambrose, this assuuipiioa 
of moral ])Ower, this high prerogative of the priest- 
hood, had hitherto been without precedent, and in this 
its first application it certainly commands our respect, 
our admiration, and our sympathy. 

Theodosius, with all his great qualities, was subject 
to fits of violent passion. A sedition, or rather a pop- 
ular affray, had taken i)lace in Thessalonica ; one of 
his officers was ill-treated, and some lives lost. Tlico- 
dosius, in the first moment of indignation, ordered an 
indiscriminate massacre of the inha!)itants, and seven 
thousand human beings — men, women, and children 
— were sacrificed. The conduct of Ambrose on this 
occasion was worthy of a Christian prelate : he retired 
from the presence of the Emperor, and wrote to him a 
letter, in which, in the name of Ciirist, of his Church, 
and of all the bishops over whom he had any influence, 
he denounced this inhuman act with the strongest ex- 
pressions of abliorrence, and refused to allow the sov- 
ereign, thus stained with innocent blood, to particij)ate 
in the sacraments of the Church ; — in fact, excommu- 
nicated him. In vain the emperor threatened, suppli- 
cated ; in vain he appeared with all his imperial state 
before the doors of the cathedral of Milan, and com- 
manded and entreated entrance. The doors were 
closed ; and even on Christmas-day, when he again as 
a supplicant presented Inmself, Aml)rose appeared at 
the porch, and absolutely forbade his entrance, unless 
he should choose to pass into the sanctuary over the 
dead body of the intrepid bishop. At length, after 
eight months of interdict, Ambrose consented to relent, 
on two conditions : the first, that the emperor should 
publish an edict by which no capital punishment could 
be executed till thirty days afcer conviction of a crime ; 
the second, that he should perform a public penance. 
The emperor submitted ; and, clothed in sackcloth. 


grovelling on the earth, with dust and ashes on his 
liead, lay the master of the world before the altar of 
Christ, because of innocent blood hastily and wrong- 
fully shed. This was a great triumph, and one of iu- 
calcula!)le results, — some evil, some good. 

Another incident in the life of St. Ambrose should 
be recorded to his honor. In his time, "the first blood 
was judicially shed for rehgious opinion," — and the 
first man who sutfered lor heresy was Priscilian, a noble 
Spaniard : on t'.iis occasion, St. Aml)rose and St. Mar- 
tin of Tours raised their protest in the name of Clu-is- 
tianity against this dreadful precedent ; but the animos- 
ity of the Spanish bishops prevailed, and Priscilian was 
put to death ; so early were bigotry and cruelty the 
characteristics of the Spanish hierarchy ! Ambrose re- 
fused to communicate with the few bishops who had 
countenanced this transaction : the general voice of the 
Church was against it. 

The man who had thus raised himself above all 
worldly power was endued by po|)ular enthusiasm with 
suj)ernatural privileges: be performed cures; he saw 
visions. At the time of the consecration of the new 
cathedral at ]\Iilan, a miraculous dream revealed to him 
the martvrdom of two holv men, Gcrvasius and Pro- 
tasius, and the ])lace where their bodies reposed. The 
remains were disinterred, conveyed in solemn proces- 
sion to the cathedral, and deposited beneath the high 
altar; and St. Gervasius and St. Protasius became, on 
the faith of a dream, distinguished saints in the Roman 
calendar. Ambrose died at Milan iu 397, in the atti- 
tude and the act of prayer. 

Th^re were many poetical legends and apologues re- 
lating to St. Ambrose cun-ent iu the middle ages. 

It is related that an ol)stinate heretic wlio went to 
hear him preach, only to confute ar.d mock him, beheld 
an angel visible at his side, and prompting the words 
he uttered ; on seeing which, the scoffer was of course 
converted ; a subject represented in his church at Milan. 


One (lay, Ainl)roi5'j went to the prefect Macedonius, 
to entreat favor tor a poor condemned wretch ; but the 
doors were sliui; anahist him, and he was refused access. 
Tlien lis said, " Thou, even thou, slialt Hy to the 
church for refuLre, and shalt not enter ! " an<l a short 
time afterwards, Macedonius, beinj;' pursued l)y his ene- 
mies, fled for sanctuary to the church ; hut thoui^h the 
doors were wide open, he could not find the entrance, 
but wandered around in blind perplexity till he was 
slain. Of this incident I have seen no picture. 

On another occasion, St. Ambrose, coming to the 
house of a nobleman of Tuscany, was hospitably re- 
ceived ; and he inquired concerning the state of his 
host : the nobleman replied: " I have never known ad- 
versity ; every dav hath seen me incrcasin'r in fortune, 
in honors, iu possessions. I have a numerous family 
of sons and daugliters, who Iiave never cost me a pang 
of sorrow ; I have a multitude of slaves, to wliom my 
word is law ; and I have never suffered either sickness 
or pain." Then Ambrose rose hastily from table, and 
said to his companions, " Arise ! fly from this roof, ere 
it fall upon us ; for the Lord is not here ! " and scarce- 
ly had he left the house wlien an earthquake shook the 
ground, and swallowed up the palace with all its inhab- 
itants. I have seen this story in a miniature, but can^ 
not at this moment refer to it. 

St. Ambrose falls asleep, or into a trance, while cel- 
ebrating mass, and sees in the spirit the obsequies of 
St. Martin of Tours : the sacristan strikes him on the 
shoulder to wake him. This is the subject of a very 
old mosaic in his church at Milan. 

^Yheu St. Aml)rose w\qs on his death-bed, Christ vis- 
ited him and comforted him ; Honorat, bishop of Yer- 
celli, was then in attendance on him, and having gone 
to sleep, an angel waked him, saying, "Arise, for ]^e 
departs in this hour " ; and Honoi'at was just in time 
to administer the sacrament and see him expire. Oth- 
ers who were present beheld him u«^er<j to heaven, 
boroe in the arms of angels. 


Devotional pictures of St. Ambrose alone as patron 
saint do not often occur. In general lie Avears the 
episcopal pallium with the mitre and crosier as bishop : 
t'lc beehive is sometimes placed at liis feet ; but a more 
frequent attribute is the knotted scourge witli three 
tliongs. The scourge is a received eml)lem of the cas- 
tigation of sin : in the hand of St. Ambrose it may- 
signify the peuance inflicted on tlie Emj^cror Thcodo- 
sius ; or, as others iuterpret it, the ex])ul&ion of the 
Arians from Italy, and the triumph of the Trinitarians. 
It has always this meaning, we may presume, when the 
scourge has three knots, or three thongs. I have seen 
figures of St. Ambrose holding two human bones in 
his hand. "When this attribute occurs (as in a picture 
by Vicarini, Venice Acad.), it alludes to the discovery 
of the relics of Gervasius and Protasius. 

Among the few representations of St. Ambrose as 
patron saint, the finest beyond all comparison is that 
which adorns his cliapel in the Frari at Venice, painted 
conjointly by B. Vivarini and Basaiti (a. d. 1498). 
He is seated on a throne, raised on several steps, at- 
tired in his episcopal robes and mitre, and bearing the 
triple scourge in his hand. He has a short gray beard, 
and looks straight out of tlie picture with an expres- 
sion of stern power ; — notliing hei^e of the benignity 
and humility of the Christian teacher! Around liis 
throne stands a glorious company of saints : on the 
right, St. George in complete armor ; St. John tlie 
Baptist ; a young saint, bearing a sword and palm, 
with long hair, and the most beautiful expression of 
mild, serene faith, whom I suppose to be St. Theo- 
dore ; St. Sebastian ; and another figure behind, part 
of the head only seen. On the left, St. Maurice, 
armed ; the three Doctors, St. Gregory, St. Augustine, 
St. Jerome, and two other saints partly seen behind, 
wlitse personality is doubtful. All these wait round 
St. Ambrose, as guards and counsellors round a sov- 
ereign ; two lovely little angels sit on the lower step 
of the throne hymning his praise. The whole picture 


is wonderful for color, depth, and expression, and 
shows to what a pitch of excellence the Vivarini family 
liaJ attained in tliese cliaracteristics of the Venetian 
school, loni^ before it luid become a scliool. 

Most of t!ie single fi;j;urcs of St. Ambrose represent 
him in liis most popular chai-acter, that of the stern 
adversary of the Arians. I remember (in the Frari 
at VeniL-e) a picture in wliich St. An)brose in liis epis- ro!)CS is mounted on a white char;;er, and flour- 
isliing on high liis triple scourge. The ^Vrians arc 
tram^)leJ under his feet, or Hy before him. I liavc 
seen an old print, in which he is represented with a 
short gray beard, stern countenance, and wearing the 
bishop's mitre: underneath is the inscription '' xinti- 
quis ejus iinajinibiis Mediolani ollm depictis ad vivuin 
expressa" ; but it seems certain that no authentic por- 
trait of him exists. 

His churcli at Milan, the Basilica of Sant' Ambro- 
gio Maggiore, one of the oldest and most interesting 
churches in Christendom, was founded by him in 387, 
and dedicated to all t'lc Saints. Though rebuilt in the 
ninth century and restored in the seventeenth, it still 
retains the form of the primitive Christian churches 
(like some of those at Rome and Ravenna), and the 
doors of. cypress wood are traditionally regarded as the 
very doors wliich St. A-.nSrose closed against the Em- 
psror Tacodosiui, brought hither from the ancient ca- 
tliijdral. Witliin this venerable and solemn old church 
may be seen one of the most extraordinary and best- 
preserved speL-imens of Mediicval Art : it is the golden 
siirine or covering of the higli altar, much older than 
the fa.noui pala d' oro at Venice ; and the work, or at 
least the design, of one man : * whereas the jxiki is the 
work of several ditfjrent artists at ditlerent periods. 
Oa the trout of the altar, wiiich is all of plates of 

* '»y ilvlnus, A. D. 832. "His name seems to indicate that he 
was of Teutonic race, a circumstance which has excited much 
coutroversy amongst th^p modem Italian antiquaries." — Mur 
ray\'i Handbook. 




gold, enamelled and set with precious stones, are rep- 
resented in relief scenes from the life of our Saviour ; 
on tlie sides, wliii-h are of silver-gilt, angels, archangels, 
and medallions of Milanese saints. On the back, also 
of silver-gilt, we have the whole life of St. An^brose, 
in a series of small compartments, most curious and 
inii)ortant as a record of cosiunie and niannei's, as well 
as an example of the state of Art at that time. I liave 
never seen any engraving of this monument, but I ex- 
amined it carefully. In the centre stand the Archan- 
gels Michael and Gabriel, in the Byzantine style; and 
below them, St. Ambrose blesses the donor, Bishop 
Angelhertus, and the goldsmith Wolvinus. Around, 
in twelve com])artmcnts, we have the principal inci- 
dents of the life of St. Ambrose, the figures being, 
as nearly as I can recollect, aliout six inches high. 

1. Bees swarm round his head as he lies in liis 
cradle. 2. He is a]i[)ointed prefect of the Ligurian 
pi'ovinces. 3. He is elected Bishop of Milan in 375. 
4. He is baptized. 5. He is ordained. 6. and 7. He 
sleeps, and beholds in a vision tlie obsequies of St. 
Martin of Tours. 8. He preaclies in the cathedral, 
inspired by angels. 9. He heals the sick and lame, 
10. He is visited by Christ. 11. An angel wakes the 
Bishop of Vercelli and sends him to St. Ambrose. 
12. Ambrose dies, and angeLi bear away his soul to 

I was surprised not to find in his cliurch what we 
consider as the princij)al event of liis life, — his mag- 
nanimous i-esistance to the Em])eror Theodosius. In 
fact, the grand scene between Ambrose and Theodo- 
sius has never been so popular as it deserves to be : 
considered merely as a sniiject of painting, it is full of 
splendid jiicturesquc capal)ili.ies ; for grouping, color, 
contrast, background, all that could be desired. In 
the great picture by Rul)ens,* the scene is the porch 
of the church. On the left the emperor, surrounded 
by \n& guards, stands irresolute, and in a supplicatory 

* Belvedere Gal., Vienna. 


attitude, on the steps ; on the right, and above, St. 
Am!)rose is seen, attended by the ministcrinj; priests, 
and stretclics out his hand to repel the intruder. There 
is a print, afier Andrea del Sarto, representing- Theo- 
dosius on his knees before the relentinjr prelate. In 
the Louvre is a small picture, by SuMeyras, of the 
reconciliation of Ambrose and Thcodosius. In our 
National Gallery is a small and beautiful copy, by 
Vandyek, of the groat picture by Kul)ens. 

As Joint patrons of Milan, St. Ainl)rose and Si:. 
Carlo B:)rro:n2o are sometimes represented together, 
but only in late pi^-tnrcs. 

Tiierj is a sratui of St. Ambrose, by Falconet,* in 
the act of repelling Tlieodosins, which is mentioned by 
Diderot, with a commentary so characteristic of the 
French anti-religious feeling of that time, — a feeling 
as narrow and one-sided in its way as the most bigoted 
Puritanism, — that I am tempted to extract it ; only 
premising, that if, after the slaughter at Isniael, Cath- 
erine of Russia had been placed under the ban of 
Christendom, the world would not liave been the 
worse for such an exertion of the priestly power. 

"C'est ce fougueux eveque qui osa fermer les portes <le I'tglise 
k Thio.lose, et a qui un certain SDUveiaiii de par L' raoa.le (Fred- 
eric; of Prussia) qui dans la guerre passee avoLt une si bonne euvia 
de faire uu tour d ms la lUi des protrc-s, ct u;ie cartiine suuverainf; 
(Catheriae of Russia) qui vient de dt-barrasser son clerge dc t.'UW 
cstte richesse inutile qui I'empechoit d'etre respectable, auroijnt 
fait couper la barbo et L^s oreiiles, en lui dis lot -. ' Apprenez, mon- 
sieur Tabbe, que le temple de votre Dieu est sur moa domains, et 
que si moa prcdecesseur vous a accord<i par grace Us trois ar|) n3 
de terrain fju'd occupy?, yi puis les reprendre et vous envoyer i) )r- 
ter vos au:els et vocre f.inatisnie aiileurs. Ce lieu-ci l.i maison du 
Pere commun des hommes, bons ou m'chans, et J2 veux en'rer 
quand il me plaira. Je ne m'accuso; point a vous , quand J9 
daii^nerois vous consulter, vous n'en sa\ez pas asstz pour me 
conseiller sur ma conduite, et de quel front v<iU3 imniisce/.-vous 
d'en jugtr?' Mais le plat emp^reur ne jiasla pas, et 
I'eveque savoit bien i qui il avoit a faire. Le statuaire nous I'a 
montre dans le moment de son insolent apostrophe." 

* Paris, Invalides. 


In Diderot's criticisms on Art, Avhich are often 
quoted even now, there is in general a iar better 
ta.ste tlian prevailed in liis time, and much good 
sense ; hut a low tone of sentiment when he had to 
deal with imaginative or religious Art, and an intol- 
erable coarseness, — " most mischievous foul sin in 
chiding: siu." 


St. Augustine. 

St. Austin. Lat. Sanctus Augustinu?. Itnl. Sant' Agostino. Fr. 
S. Augusiia. Aug. 23, a. d. 430. 

St. Augustine, tb.e third of the Doctors of the 
Church, was born at Tagaste, in Numidia, in 354. 
His fiitlier was a heathen ; his mother, Monica, a 
Christian. Endowed with splendid talents, a vivid 
imagination, and strong passions, Augustine passed 
liis restless youth in dissipated pleasures, in desultory 
studies, changing from one faith to another, dissatisfied 
with himself and unsettled in mind. His mother, 
Monica, wept and prayed for him, and, in the ex- 
tremity of her anguish, repaired to the Bishop of 
Carthage. Aficr listening to her sorrows, he dismissed 
her with these Avords : " Go in peace ; the son of so 
many tears will not perish ! " Augustine soon after- 
wards went to Ivomc, where he gained fame and riches 
by his eloquence at the bar ; but lie Avas still uiiha))py 
and restless, nowhere finding peace either in labor or 
in pleasure. From Rome lie went to Milan ; there, 
afcr listening for some lime to the preaching o'f Am- 
brose, he Avas, afler many struggles, converted to tl;c 
faith, and Avas baptized by the Bishop of Milan, in 
presence of his, Monica. On this occasion 
Avas composed the hymn called the " Te Deum," still 
in use in our Clmix-h ; St. Ambrose and St. Augustine 
reciting the verses alternatelv as thev advanced to the 
altar. Augustine, after some time spent in study, was 
ordained priest, and then Bishop of Hippo, a small 

ST augustinh:. 325 

town and territory not far from Carthage. Once in- 
stalled in his bishopric, he ever afterwards refused to 
leave the flock intrusted to his care, or to accept of 
anv hii^her diu'iiity. His life was passed in the prac- 
tice of every A-irtuc : all that he possessed was spent in 
hospitality and charity, and his time was devoted to 
the instruction of his flock, either by preaching or 
writing. In 430, after lie had ])resided over his dio- 
cese for thirty-five years, the city of Hippo was be- 
sieged by the Vandals ; in the midst of the horrors 
that ensued, Augustine refused to leave his people, 
and died during the siege, being then in his seventy- 
sixth year. It is said tliat his remains were afterward* 
removed from Africa to Pavia, by Luitprand, King of 
the Lombards. His writings in defence of Christianity 
arc numerous and celebrated ; and lie is regarded as 
the patron saint of theologians and learned men. 

Of his glorious tomb, in the Cathedral of Pavia, I 
can only say that its beauty as a work of art astonished 
me. I had not been prepared for anything so rich, so 
elegant in taste, and so elaborate in invention. It is 
of the finest florid Gothic, Avorked in white marble, 
scarcely discolored by time. Augustine lies upon a 
bier, and angels of exquisite grace are folding hi.-* 
shroud around him. Tlie basso-relievos represent the 
events of his life; the statues of the evangelists, apos- 
tles, and other saints connected with the history of the 
Church, are full of dignity and character. It comprises 
in all 290 figures. This magnificent shrine is attributed 
by Cicognara to the Jacobelli of Venice, and by Vasari 
to the two brothers Agostino and Agnolo of Siena; 
but he do3s not speak with certainty, and the date, 1362, 
seems to justify t!ie supposition of Cicognara, the Sie- 
nes3 brothers being then eighty or ninety years old. 

Single figures of St. Augustine are not common; 
and when grouped with others in devotional pictures, 
it is not easy to distinguish him from other bishops ; 
for his proper attribute, the heart; flaming or trans- 
pierced, to express the ardor of his piety or the poig- 


nancy of his repentance, is very seldom introduced: 
but when a bisliop is standing with a book in his hand, 
or a pen, accompanied by St. Jerome, and with no par- 
ticular attribute, we may suppose it to be St. Aup:us- 
tine ; and wiieu the title of one of liis famous wriiiiifrs j 
is inscribed on the book, it of course fixes the identity { 
beyond a doubt. I 

1. B. Vivarini. St. Auprustinc seated on a throne, 
as jialron saint, mitred and robed ; alone, stern, and 

2. Dosso Dossi. St. Augustine throned as pati-on, 
attended by two angels ; he looks like a jovial patri- 

3. F. Filippo Li])pi. St. Augustine writing in liis 
diamber ; no emblem, no mitre; yet the ;>c-ri;oHa//^e so 
marked that one could not mistake him either for Am- 
brose or Jerome. { 

4. Andrea del Sarto. St. Augustine as doctor ; be- 
fore him stand St. Dominic and St. Peter Martyr ; 
beside him St. Laurence, listening ; in front kneel St. 
Sebastian and Mary Magdalen. § 

5. V. Carpaccio. St. Augustine standing ; a fine, 
stern, majestic figure ; lie holds his book and scourge. || 

6. Paris Bordone. The Virgin and Child enthroned; 
the Virgin places on the head of St. Augustine, who 
kneels before her, the jewelled mitre.^ 

7. Plorigerio. St. Augustine, as bishop, and St. 
Monica, veiled, stand on each side of the Madonna.** 

As a series of subjects, the histoiy of St. Augustine 
is not commonly met with ; yet certain events in his 
life are of very frecjucnt occurrence. 

I shall begin with the earliest. 

1. Monica brings her son to school; the master re- 

* SS. Giovan e Paolo, Tenice. t Brera, Milan. 

+ Fl. Gal. 

§ Pitti Pal. This fine picture was painted for the Agostini. 

II Bi\ra, Milan. 

T Berlin Gal. ** Acad. Venice. 

ST. AU (JUST INK. 327 

ceives him ; the scholars are sittinj; in a row coniiini^ 
their horn!)ooks. The names ot" Monica and Auuiis- 
tine are iiisjribetl in tlic ,i,^Iorics round tlit-ir licads. 
T.iis is a very curioai little oval i)ictiire of t!ic early 
part of th3 foartccntli century.* 

Bjiio/.zo Go/.zo'.i has painted the same suliject in a 
lar'j^s frvji ■(> ia th3 churcli of San Geininiano at A'ol- 
terra {\. d. 1453). M):iica presents licr son to tlic 
school in isrer, \v!io caresses him ; in t!ie hack^rround a 
little hoy is hSwx^ wliipp^l, precisely i:i tlie same atii- 
tu b in wliio'h correction is aduiinistercd, to this day, ia 
so:n3 of our s::;Ii03ls. 

2. S:. Au^iistinj unier the fiz-tree moditatini]:, with 
tlie iiisjripaoa, " Djiorjs aniin.e s.ilucen pariurieiites" ; 
and the samj suSjejt varied, witli the inscripiion, Tolle, 
lejz. H3 tells us in his Coafes.sions, tliat while still 
unconverted, and in deep communion with his friend 
Alypius on tlie subject of the Sv-ripturcs, the contest 
within his mind was sujh that he rushed from the 
presence of his friend and threw himself down beneath 
a fi^,'-tree, pourin;^ forth torrents of repentant tears ; 
and he heard a voice, as it were the voice of a child, 
repeatin;^ several timis, " Tolle, lege," " Take and 
read " ; and returnin;^ to the place where he had left 
his friend, and taking u;) the sabred volume, he opened 
it at the verse of S:. Paul's E[)istle to the Eomans, 
" Noi; in rionn;^ and drunkenness, not in chambcrin<^ 
and wantonness, not in strife and envyin;^ ; l)ut put ye 
on the Lord Jesus Clu'ist, and make not provision for 
the flesh." Considerinoj that this Avas the voice of 
God, he took up the reliiiious profession, to the great 
joy of his motlier and his friend. 

3. C. Pro -accino. The Baptism of St. Augustine 
in the presence of St. Monica. This is a conmion 
subject in chapels dedicated to St. Augustine or St. 
Monica. t 

4. As the supposed founder of one of the four great 
-feligious communities, St. Augustine is sometimes rep- 

* Vatican, Christian Museum. t Cremona- 


resented as giving the rules to his Order : or in the 
act of wi-iting them, while his monks stand around, as 
in a picture hy Carlctto Cagliari:* both ai-c commcn 
su'jjects ill the houses of the Augustine friars. The 
habit is black. t 

5. St. Augustine dispensing alms, generally in a 
black habit, and with a bishop's mitre on his head. 

6. St. Augustine, washing tlie feet of the pilgrims, 
sees Christ descend from above to have his feet Avaslied 
Avith the rest ; a large picture in the Bologna Academy 
by Desubleo, a painter whose works, with this one ex- 
ception, are unknown to me. The saint wears the 
black habit of an Augustine friar, and is attended b.y s 
monk with a napkin in his hand. I found the same 
subject in the Louvre, in a Spanish picture of the sev- 
enteenth century; above is seen a church (like the Pan- 
theon) in a glory, and Christ is supjiosed to utter the 
words, " Tibi commendo Ecclesiam ineain." J 

7. St. Augustine, borne aloft by angels in an ecstatic 
vision, beholds Christ in the opening heavens above, 
St. Monica kneeling below. This fine picture, by Van- 
dvck, is or was in the gallery of Lord Methuen at 
Corsham : and at INIadrid there is another example, by 
Murillo : St. Augustine kneeling in an ecstasy sees a 
celestial vision ; on one hand the Saviour crucified, on 
the other the Virgin and angels. 

This, however, is not the famous subject called, in 
general, 8. " The Vision of St. Augustine," which rep- 
resents a dream or vision related by himself. He tells 
us that, while busied in writing his Discourse on the 
Trinity, he wandered along the sea-shore lost in medi- 
tation.^ Suddenly he beheld a child, who, having dug 
a hole in the sand, appeared to be bringing water from 

* Belvedere, Yieiina. 

t V. " L -gemls of the Monastic Orders." 

} I believe this picture was afterwards in the possession of Mr. 
Dennistoun, of Dennistoun. Mr. Stirling mentions it as a fine 
specimen of Murillo's second style. 


the sea to fill it. Auijustine inquired what was the 
object of his task ? He replied, that he intended to 
empty into this cavity all the waters of the i^reat deep. 
" Impossible ! " exclaimed Au^^ustine. " Not more im- 
possible," replied the child, " than for thee, O Augus- 
tine ! to explain the mystery on which thou art now 

No subject from the liistory of St. Augustine has 
been so often treated, yet 1 do not remember any very 
early example. It was adopted as a favorite theme 
when Art became rather tlieological than religious, and 
more inteut on illustrating the doj,inas of cluuvlimeu 
than the teaching of Clirist. During the sixteentli and 
seventeenth centuries wc find it everywhere, and treated 
in every variety of style, but the motif does not vary, 
and the same fault prevails too generally, of giving us 
a material fact, rather than a spiritual vision or revela- 
tion. Augustine, arrayed in his black habit or his 
episcopal robes, stands on the sea-shore, gazing with an 
astonished air on the Infant Christ, who pauses, and 
looks up from his task, liolding a bowl, a cup, a ladle, 
or a shell in his hand. Thus we have it in Murillo's 
picture, — the most beautiful example I have seen : the 
child is heavenly, but not visionary, " palpable to feel- 
ing as to sense." 

In Garofalo's picture of this subject, now in our Na- 
tional Gallery, Augustine is seated on a rock by the 
margin of the sea, habited in his episcopal robes, and 
with his books and writing implements near him; and 
while he gazes on the mysterious child, the A^irgin ap- 
pears ainid a choir of angels above : behind Augustine 
stands St. Catherine, the patron saint of theologians 
and scholars : the little red figure in the background 
represents St. Stephen, whose life and actions are elo- 
quently set forth in the homilies of St. Augustine : the 
introduction of St. Catherine, St. Stephen, and the 
whole court of heaven, gives tlie picture a visionary 
character. Rubens has painted this sulyect with all his 
powerful reality : here Augustine wears the black habit 


of his Order. Vandyck in his large grand picture has 
introduced St. Monica kneeling, thus giving at once the 
dcvoiional or visionary character.* Albert l/tirer has 
designed and engraved the same subject. The most 
singular treatment is the classical coniijosition of Ra- 
phael, in one of the small chiaro-scuro piciurcs placed 
siiiiiiticantlv under the " Dispute of the Sacrament." 
St. Augustine is in a Roman dress, hare-hcadcd, and 
on horseback ; his liorse starts and rears at the sight 
of the miraculous child. 

There is something at once picturesque and mystical 
in tliis subject, whicli has rendered it a lavorite with 
artists and theologians ; yet there is always, at least in 
every instance 1 can reioUect, something prosaic and 
literal in the treatment Avhich spoils the poetry of the 

9. " St. Augustine and St. Stephen bury Count 
Orgaz," — the masterpiece of Domeuico el Greco, once 
in the Cathedral of Toledo, now in the Madrid Gal- 
lery. This Conde de Orgaz, as Mr. Ford tells us in 
his' Handbook, lived in 1312, and had repaired a church 
in his lifetime, and therefore St. Stephen and St. Augus- 
tine came down from heaven to lay him in his tomb, 
in presence of Christ, the Virgin, and all the court of 
heaven. " The black and gold armor of the dead 
Count is equal to Titian ; the red brocades and copes 
of the saints arc admirable; less good are the Virgin 
and celestial groups." I have before mentioned the 
reason why St. Augustine and St. Stephen are often 
represented in companionship. 

St. Monica is ofien introduced into pictures of her 
son, where she has, of course, the secondary place; 
her dress is usually a black rolie, and a veil or coif, 
white or gray, resembling tliat of a nun or a widow. 
I have met with but one ])icture where she is supreme ; 
it is i:i the Carmine at Florence. St. Monica is sealed 
on a throne and attended by twelve holy women or 
female saints, six on each side. The very dark situa- 

* Once in Lord Methuen's Gallery at Corsham. 



tion of this piftiire prcventefl me from distinjruishinoj 
indiviiliuxUy the saints around Iier, but Monica liersclf 
««^\vell as the otlier li.tiiuros liave that (jrandiose air 
wnirli helontrs to the painter, — Filippo Lippi. 

I saw in the atelier of the painter Ary Sulicffcr, in 
1845, an adiniraltle pii-turc of St. Au'zustinc ami his 
mot'ier Monica. The two figures, not quite full-leni:th, 
arc seated ; she holds his hand in both hers, lookin;j: up 
to lieaven witli an expression of enthusiastic, undou!)t- 
ing faitli ; — " tlie son of so many tears cannot be cast 
away ! " He also is lookincr up witii an ardent, eaiicr, 
but anxious, doubtful expression, which seems to say, 
"Help thou my unbelief!" For profound and truth- 
ful feeling and significance, I know few' tinners in the 
compass of moderu Art that can be compared to this 


St. Gregory. 

Lat. Sanctu3 Grcjorius Magnus. Hal. S\n Gregorio Magno or 
Pap.i. Fr. Sc. Gregoir3. Qer. Der Ileiliga Gregor. March 
12, A. D. G04. 

The fourth Doctor of tlic Latin Church, St. Greg- 
ory, styled, and not without reason, Gregory the Great, 
was one of tliose extraordinary men wliose inHueuce is 
not only fjit ia tlieir own lime, but through long suc- 
ceeding ages. Tiic events of his tr()u!>led and splendid 
poniilicatc belong to history ; and I shall merely throw 
logetlier here such particulars of his life and character 
as may serve to render the multiplied I'epresentations 
of him boih intelligible and interesting. He was born 
at Home in the year 540. His father, Gordian, was 
of senatorial rank : his mother, Sylvia, who, in the 
hiitory of St. Gregory, is almost as important as St. 
Monica in the story of St. Augustine, was a woman of 
rare endowments, and, during his childish years, the 

* It was in the possession of Iler Majesty the Ex-Queea of the 
French, who paid for it •2.5,O00f. 


watchful instructress of her son. It is recorded that 
when he was still an infant she was favored by a vision 
of St. Antony, in wliicli he promised to lier son the 
supreme dignity of tlie tiara. Gregory, l.owever, com' 
menced his career in life as a lawyer, and exercised 
during twelve years the office of praior or chief magis- 
trate of his native city ; yet, while apparently engrossed 
by secular affairs, he became deeply imiucd with the 
religious enthusiasm which was cliaracterislic of his 
time and hereditary in his family. Iramedialely on 
the death of his father he devoted all the wealth he 
had inherited to pious and charitable purposes, con- 
verted his paternal home on the Celian Hill into a 
monastery and hospital for the poor, which he dedicated 
to St. Andrew : then, retiring to a little cell within it, 
he took the habit of the Benedictine Order, and gave 
up all his time to study and preparation for the duties 
to which he had devoted himself. On the occasion of 
a terrific plague which almost depopulated Eome, he 
fearlessly undertook the care of the poor and sick. 
Pope Pelagius having died at this time, th.e people with 
one voice called upon Gregory to succeed him : but he 
shrank from the high office, and wrote to the Emperor 
Maurice, entreating him not to ratify the ch.oice of the 
people. The emperor sent an edict confirming his 
election, and thereupon Gregory fled from Kome, and 
hid himself in a cave. Those who went in search of 
him were directed to the place of his concealment by a 
celestial light, and the fugitive was discovered and 
brought back to Rome. 

Xo sooner had he assumed the tiara, thus forced 
upon him against his will, than he sliowed himself in 
all respects worthy of his elevation. While he asserted 
the dignity of liis station, he was distinguished by his 
personal humility : he was the first pope who took the 
title of " Servant of the Servants of God " ; he abol- 
ished slavery throughout Christendom on religious 
grounds ; though enthusiastic in making converts, he 
set himself against persecution ; and when the Jews of 



Sardinia appealed to him, he cominanded that the syn- 
agogues which had heen taken from them, and con- 
A'erted into churches, sliould be restored. He was tlie 
first who sent missionaries to preach the Gospel in 
England, roused to pity by the sight of some Briiish 
cai)tives exposed for sale in the market at Kome. 
Shocked at the idea of an eternity of vengeance and 
torment, if he did not originate the belief in ))urgatory, 
he was at least the first who preached it publicly, and 
made it an article of faith. In his hatred of war, of 
persecution, of slavery, he step])ed not only in advance 
of his own time, but of ours. He instituted the celi- 
bacy of the clergy, one of the boldest strokes of eccle- 
siastical power ; he reformed the services of the Church ; 
defined the model of the Roman liturgy, such as it has 
ever since r-emained, — the offices of the priests, the 
variety and change of the sacerdotal garments ; he ar- 
ranged the music of the chants, and he himself trained 
the choristers. " Experience," says GibI)on, " liad 
shown him the efficacy of these solemn and pompous 
rites to soothe the distress, to confirm the faith, to mit- 
igate the fierceness, and to dispel the dark enthusiasm 
of the vulgar; and he readily forgave their tendency to 
promote tlie reign of priesthood and su[)erstition." If, 
at a period when credulity and ignorance were univer- 
sal, he showed himself in some instances credulous and 
ignorant, it seems hardly a reproach to one in other 
respects so good and so great. 

His charity was boundless, and his vigilance inde- 
fatigable : he considered himself responsible for every 
sheep of the flock intrusted to him ; and when a beg- 
gar died of hunger in the streets of Rome, lie laid 
liiaiself under a sentence of penance and excommuni- 
cation, and interdicted himself for several days from 
the exercise of his sacerdotal functions. 

Sucli was St. Gregory the Great, the last Pope avIio 
«s'as canonized : celestial honors and worldly titles liave 
often been worse — seldom so well — bestowed. 

During the last two years of his life, his health, 


early impaired by fasts and vigils, failed entirely, and 
he was unable to rise from his couch. He died in 604, 
in the fourteenth year of his pontificate. They still 
preserve, in the cliurcli of the Lateran at Rome, Lis 
bed, and tlie little scour^^e with which he was wont to 
keep the choristers in order. 

The monastery of St. Andrew, wliicli lie founded on 
the Celian Hill, is now the church of San Grcuorio. 
To stand on the summit of the majestic fliiiht of steps 
which leads to the portal, and look across to the ruined 
palace of the Caesars, makes the mind giddy wiili 
tlie rush of thoughts. There, before us, the Palatine 
Hill, — Pagan Rome in dust: here, the little ceil, a 
few feet square, where slept in sackcloth the man who 
gave the last blow to the power of the Caesars, and 
first set his foot as sovereign on the cradle and capital 
of their greatness. 

St. Gregory was in person tall and corpulent, and 
of a dai'k complexion, with black hair, and very little 
beard. He speaks in one of his epistles of his large 
size, contrasted with his weakness and painful infirmi- 
ties. He presented to the monastery of St. xVndrew 
his own portrait, and those of his father, and his 
mother St. Sylvia: they were still in existence three 
hundred years after his death, and the portrait of 
Gregory probably furnished that particular type of 
physiognomy which we trace in all the lest represen- 
tations of him, in which he api^cars of a tali, larpe, 
and dignified person, with a broad, full face, black hair 
and eyebrows, and little or no beard. 

As he was, next to St. Jerome, the most popular of 
the Pour Doctoi's, single figures of him abound. They 
arc variously treated : in general, he bears the tiara as 
Pope, and the crosier with the double cross, in common 
Avitli other Papal saints ; but his peculiar attribute is 
the dove, which in the old pictures is always close to 
his ear. He is often seated on a throne, in the pon- 
tifical robes, weaiing the tiara : one hand raised in 
benediction ; in the other a book, which represents 

ST. GREG OR r. 335 

his homilies, and other famous works attributed to 
him : tlie dove cither rests on his shoulder, or is 
hovering over his head. He is thus represented in 
the fine statue, dcsi-rned, as it is said, by M. Angelo, 
and executed by Cordieri, in the chapel of St. Barbara, 
in San Greg:orio, Eome ; and in the picture over the 
altar-piece of his chapel, to the riuht of the high altar. 
In the Salviati Cliapcl on the left, is the " St. Gregory 
in prayer," by Annibal Caracci. He is seen in front 
bareheaded, but arrayed in the pontifical habit, kneel- 
ing on a cushion, his liands outspread and uplifted ; 
the dove descends from on high ; the tiara is at his 
feet, and eight angels hover around : — a grand, finely 
colored, but, in sentiment, rather cold and mannered 

By Guercino, St. Gregory seated on a throne, look- 
ing upwards, his hand on an open book, in act to turn 
the leaves ; the dove hovers at his shoulder : to the 
left stands St. Francis Xavier ; on the right, and more 
in front, St. Ignatius Loyola. Behind St. Gregory is 
an angel playing on the viol, in allusion to his love 
and patronage of sacred music ; in front an infant 
angel holds the tiara. Tlie type usually adopted in 
figures of St. Gregory is here exaggerated into coarse- 
ness, and the picture altogether appears to me more 
remarkable for Guercino's faults than for his beauties.f 

Several of the legends connected with the history of 
St. Gregory are of singular interest and beauty, and 
have aftbrded a number of picturesque themes for Art : 
they appear to have arisen out of his exceeding popu- 
larity. They are all expressive of the veneration in 
which he was held by the people ; of the deep impres- 
sion left on their minds by his eloquence, his sanctity, 
his charity ; and of the authority imputed to his nu- 
merous writings, which were commonly said to have 
been dictated by the Holy Spirit. 

* There I3 a duplicate in the Bridgewater Gallery, 
t Sutherland Gal. 


1. John the deacon, his secretary, who has left a full 
account of his life, declares that he belield the Holy 
Ghost in the form of a dove perched upon his shoulder 
while he was writing or dictating his famous homilies. 
This vision, or rather figure of speech, has been inter- 
preted as a fact by the early painters. Thus, in a 
quaint old picture in the Bologna Gallery, we have 
St. Gregory seated on a throne writing, the celestial 
dove at his car. A little behind is seen John the 
deacon, drawing aside a curtain, and looking into the 
room at his patron with an expression of the most 
naive astonishment. 

2. The Archangel Michael, on the cessation of the 
pestilence, sheathes his sword on the summit of the 
Mole of Hadrian. 1 have never seen even a tolerable 
picture of this magnificent subject. There is a picture 
in the Vatican, in Avhich Gregory and a procession of 
priests are singing litanies, and in the distance a little 
Mola di Adriano, with a little angel on the summit; — 
curious, but without merit of any kind. 

3. The Supper of St. Gregory. It is related that 
when Gregory was only a monk, in the INIonastery of 
St. Andrew, a beggar presented himself at the gate, 
and requested alms : being relieved, he came again 
and again, and at length nothing was left for the 
charitalile saint to bestow, but the silver porringer in 
which his mother, Sylvia, had sent him a potw/e ; and 
he commanded that this sliould be given to the mendi- 
cant. It Avas his custom, when he became Pope, to 
entertain every evening at his own table twelve poor 
men, in remembrance of the number of our Lord's 
apostles. One night, as he sat at supper with his 
guests, he saw, to his surprise, not twelve, but thir- 
teen seated at his table. And he called to his steward, 
and said to him, "Did I not command thee to invite 
twelve 1 and behold, there are thirteen ! " And the 
stCAvard told them over, and replied, " Holy Father, 
there are surely twelve only ! " and Gregory held his 
peace ; and after the meal, he called forth the unbidden 


gnest, and asked him, " Who art thou 1 " And he re- 
plied, " I am the poor man whom thou didst formerly 
relieve ; but mv name is the Wonderful, and throuiili 
me thou shalt obtain whatever thou slialt ask of God." 
Then Gregory knew tliat he had entertained an angel 
(or, aecording to another version of the story, our 
Lord himself). This legend has been a frequent 
sul)iect in painting, under the title of " The Su|)per 
of St. Greuorv." In the fresco in his church at Rome, 
it is a winged angel who appears at the su])per-table. 
In the fresco of Paul Veronese, one of his famous 
banquet-scenes, the stranger seated at the table is the 
Saviour habited as a pilgrim.* In the picture painted 
by Vasari, his masterpiece, now in the Bologna Gal- 
lery, he has introduced a great number of figures and 
portraits of distinguished personages of his own time, 
St. Gregory being represented under the likeness of 
Clement VII. The unbidden guest, or angel, bears 
the features of the Saviour. 

This is one of many beautiful mythic legends, 
founded on the woi'ds of St. Paul in which he so 
strongly recommends hospitality as one of the vii'- 
tues : " Be not forgetful to entertain strangers : for 
thereby some have entertained angels unawares." (Heb. 
xiii. 2.) Or, as Massinger has rendered the apostolic 
precept, — 

" Learn all, 
By this example, to look on the poor 
■With gentle eyes, for in such habits often 
Angels de^jii-e an alms." 

4. The Mass of St. Gregory. On a certain occasion 
when St. Gregory was otKciating at the mass, one who 
was near him doubted the real presence ; thereupon, at 
the ])rayer of the saint, a vision is suddenly revealed 
of the crucified Saviour himself, who descends upon 
the altar surrounded by the instruments of his passion. 
This legend has been a popular subject of painting 
from the beginning of the fifteenth century, and iis 

* Yicenza. S. Maria del Monte. 


called " The Mass of St. Gregory." I have met 
with it in every variety of treatment and grouping ; 
but, however treated, it is not a pleasing subject. St. 
Gregory is seen officiating at the altar, surrounded by 
his attendant clergy. Sometimes several saints are in- 
troduced in a poetical manner, as witnesses of the mir- 
acle : as in an old picture I saw in the gallery of Lord 
Northwick ; — the crucified Saviour descends from the 
cross, and stands on the altar, or is upborne in the air 
by angels ; while all the incidental circumstances and 
instruments of the Passion, — not mcrelv the crown 
of thorns, the spear, the nails, but the kiss of Judas, 
the soldiers' dice, the cock that crew to Peter, — are 
seen floating in the air. As a specimen of the utmost 
naivete in this representation may be mentioned Albert 
Durer's woodcut. 

The least ofiensive and most elegant in treatment is 
the marble bas-relief in front of the altar in the Chapel 
of St. Gregory at Kome. 

5. The miracle of the Brandeum. The Empress 
Constantia sent to St. Gregory requesting some of the 
relics of St. Peter and St. Paul. He excused himself, 
saving that he dared not disturb their sacred remains 
for such a purpose, but he sent her part of a conse- 
crated cloth {Brandeum) which had enfolded the body 
of St. John the Evangelist. The empress rejected this 
gift with contempt : whereupon Gregory, to sliow that 
such things are hallowed not so much in themselves as 
by the faith of believers, laid the Brandeum on the 
altar, and after praying he took up a knife and pierced 
it, and blood flowed as from a living body. This inci- 
dent, called the " miracle dei Brandeij" has also been 
painted. Andrea Sacchi has represented it in a grand 
picture now in the Vatican ; the mosaic copy is over 
the altar of St. Gregory in St. Peter's. Gregory holds 
up to view the bleeding cloth, and the expression of 
astonishment and conviction in the countenances of the 
assistants is very fine. 


6. St. Gregory releases the soul of the Emperor Tra- 
jan. In a little picture in the Bologna Academy, he 
is seen praying before a tomb, on which is inscribed 
Trajaxo Imperauor; beneath are two angels raising 
the soul of Trajan out of the flames. Such is the 
usual treatment of this curious and poetical legend, 
which is thus related in the Lcgenda Aurca. " It 
happened on a time, as Trajan was hastening to battle 
at the head of his legions, that a poor widow flung 
herself in his path, and cried aloud for justice, and the 
emperor stayed to listen to her; and she demanded 
vengeance for the innocent blood of her son, killed by 
the son of the emperor. Trajan promised to do her 
justice when he returned from his expedition. ' But, 
Sire,' answered the widow, ' should you be killed in 
battle, who then will do me justice ? ' ' My successor,' 
replied Trajan. And she said, ' What will it signify 
to you, great Emperor, that any other than yourself 
should do me justice ? Is it not better that you should 
do this good action yourself than leave another to do 
it ? ' And Trajan alighted, and having examined into 
the affliir, he gave up his own son to her in place of 
him she had lost, and bestowed on her likewise a rich 
dowry. Now, it came to pass that as Gregory was one 
day meditating in his daily walk, this action of the 
Emperor Trajan came into his mind, and he wept 
bitterly to think that a man so just should be con- 
demned as a heathen to eternal punishment. And en- 
tering into a church he prayed most fervently that the 
soul of the good emperor might be released from tor- 
ment. And a voice said to him, ' I have granted thy 
prayer, and I have spared the soul of Trajan for thy 
sake ; but because thou hast supplicated for one whom 
the iustiee of God had alreadv condemned, thou shalt 
choose one of two things : either thou shalt endure for 
two days the fires of purgatory, or thou shalt be sick 
and infirm for the remainder of thy life.' Gregory 
chose the latter, which sufficiently accounts for the 
grievous pains and infirmities to which this great 


and ^ood man was subjected, even to the day of his 

This story of Trnjan was extremely popular in the 
middle ages : it is illustrative of the character of Gi'eg- 
ory, and the feeling which gave rise to liis doctrine of 
purgatory. Dante twice alludes to it ; he describes 
it as one of the subjects sculptured on tlie walls of 
Purgatory, and takes occasion to relate the whole 

storv : — 

"There was storied on the rock 
Th' exalted glory of the lloman prince, 
■Whose might}' worth moved Gregory to earn 
His mighty conquest, — Trajan the Emperor. 
A widow at his bridle stood attired 
In tears and mourning. Round about them trooped 
Full throng of knights : and overhead in gold 
The eagles floated, struggling with the wind. 
The wretch appeared amid all these to say : 
' Grant vengeance. Sire ! for, woe beshrew this heart, 
Wy son is murdered I' He, replying, seemed : 
' Wait now till I return.' And she, as one 
Slade hasty by her grief : ' Sire, if thou 
Dost not return ? ' — ' Where I am, who then is, 
May right thee.' — ' What to thee is others' good, 
If thou neglect thj' own ? ' — ' Now comfort thee,' 
At length he answers. ' It beseemeth well 
My duty be performed, ere I move hence. 
So justice wills 5 and pity bids me stay.' " 

Gary's Daste, Purg. x. 

It was through the efficacy of St. Gregory's inter- 
cession that Dante afterwards finds Trajan in Paradise, 
seated between King David and King Hezekiah. 
(Par. XX.) 

As a subject of painting, the story of Trajan was 
sometimes selected as an appro])riate ornament for 'a 
hall of justice. We find it sculptured on one of the 
capitals of the pillars of the Ducal Palace at Venice : 
there is the figure of the Avidow kneeling, somewliat 
stiff, but very simple and expressive, and over it, iu 
rude ancient letters, — " Trajano Imperador, die die 
justizia a la Vedova." In the Town Hall of Ceneda, 


near Belluna, arc the tlivee Jud^^ments (/ tre Giudizi), 
paiutetl by Poiupeo Anialtco : the Judgment of Solo- 
mon, the Judgment of Daniel, and the Judgment of 
Trajan. It is painted in the Town Hall of Brescia by 
Giulio Campi, one of a series of eight righteous judg- 

I found the same subject in the church of St. 
Thomas of Canterbury at Verona. " The son of the 
Empei-or Trajan trampling over the son of the widow," 
is a most curious composition by Hans Schaufeleiu.* 

7. There was a monk, who, in defiance of his vow 
of poverty, secreted in his cell three pieces of gold. 
Gregory, on learning this, excommunicated him, and 
shortly afterwards the monk died. When Gregory heard 
tluit the monk had perished in his sin, without receiving 
absolution, he was filled with grief and horror ; and 
he wrote upon a parchment a prayer and a form of 
al)solution, and gave it to one of his deacons, desiring 
liim to go to the grave of the deceased and read it 
there : on the following night the monk appeared in a 
vision, and revealed to him his release from torment. 

Tiiis story is represented in the beautiful bas-relief, 
in wliitc marble, in front of the altar of his chapel ; it is 
the last compartment on the right. The obvious 
intention of this wild legend is to give effect to the doc- 
trine of purgatory, and the efficacy of prayers for the 

St. Gregory's merciful doctrine of purgatory also 
suggested those pictures so often found in chapels dedi- 
cated to the service of the dead, in which he is repre- 
sented in the attitude of supplication, wliile on one side, 
or in the background, angels are raising the tormented 
souls out of the flames. 

In ecclesiastical decoration I have seen the two 
popes, St. Gelasius, who reformed the calendar in 49-1, 
and St. Celcstinus, Avho arranged the discii)line of the 
monastic orders, added to the series of beatified Doctors 
of the Church. 

* Bartsch, Le Peintre Graveur, vii. 264. 



The four Greek Fathers arc St. John Chrysostom, St. 
Basil the Great, St. Athanasius, and St. Gregory 
Nazianzen. To these, in Greek pietures, a tifth is 
generally added, St. Cyril of Alexandria. 

From the time of the seliism between the Eastern 
and Western cliurches, these venerable personages, wlio 
once exercised such an influence over all Christendom, 
who preceded the Latin Fathers, and were in fact their 
teachers, have been almost banished from the religious 
representations of the west of P^urope. When they are 
introduced collectively as a part of the decoration of an 
ecclesiastical editicc, we may conclude in general that 
the work is Byzantine and executed under the influence 
of Greek artists. 

A signal example is the central dome of the bap- 
tistery of St. Mark's at Venice, executed by Greek 
artists of the 12th and 13th centuries. In the four 
spandrils of the vault arc the Greek Fathers seated, 
■writing (if I well remember), and in the purest Byzan- 
tine style of art. They occupy the same places here 
that we find usually occupied by th.e Latin Doctors in 
church decoration : each has his name inscribed in 
Greek characters. We have exactly the same repre- 
sentation in the Cathedral of iMonrcale at Palermo. 
The Greek Fathers have no attributes to disiinguish 
them, and the general custom in Byzantine Art of 
inscribing the names over each fi<:ure renders tliis 
unnecessary : in general, each holds a book, or, in 
some instances, a scroll, Avhich rc})rcsfnts his writings; 
while the right hand is raised in benediction, in the 
Greek manner, the first and second finger extended, 
and the thumb and third finger forming a cross. 
According to tlic formula pu!)lished by M. Didron, 
each of the Greek Fathers bears on a scroll the first 
•words of some remarkable passage from his works : 


thus, St. Jolin Chrysostom lias " God, our God, who 
hath given us for food the bread of life," &f. : 5St. 
Basil, " None of those who are in the bondaire of fleslily 
desires are wortliy," &c. : St. Athanasius, " Often, and 
anew, do we flee to thee, O God," &c. : St. Gregory 
Nazianzen, " God, the holy among the holies, the 
thrice holy," &c. : and St. Cyril, " Above all, a Virgin 
without siu or blemish," &e. 

The Greek bishops do not wear mitres ; conse- 
quently, when in the Italian or German j)irtures St. 
Basil or any of his companions wear the niitrc, it is a 
mistake arising from the ignorance of the artist. 

The Fathers of the Greek Church have been repre- 
sented by Domenichino at Grotta Ferrata, placed over 
the cornice, and under the evangelists, their proper 
place : they are majestic figures, with fine heads, and 
correctly draped according to the Greek ecclesiastical 
costume. They are placed here with peculiar propri- 
ety, because the convent originally belonged to the 
Greek order of St. Basil, and the founder, St. Nilus, was 
a Greek.* 

As separate devotional and historical representations 
of these Fathers do sometimes, though rarely, occur, I 
shall sav a few words of them iudividuallv. 

St. Johx Chrysostom. 

Lat. Sanctus Johannes Chrysostom. Ital. San Giovanni Crisos- 
tjmo, San Giovanni Bocca d' Oro. Fr. St. Jean Clirysostome. 
Died Sept. 14, a. d. 407. His festival is cekbrated by the 
Greeks on the 13th of November, and by the Latin Church 
on the 2Tth of JaufM-y. 

St. John, called Chrysostom, or or the Golden 
Mouth, because of liis extraordinary eloquence, was 

* For an account of St. Nilus, and the foundation of Grotta 
Ferrata, see the " Legends of Monastic Orders." 


liorn at Antioch in 344. His parents were illustrious 
and the career opened to him was of arts and arms; 
but from his infiincy the bent of his mind was peculiar. 
He lost his father when youno: ; his mother Artluisia, 
SlIU in the prime of her life, remained a widow for his 
sake, and superintended his education with care and 
intclliL;:ence. The remark of Sir James Mackintosh, 
that " all distinguished men have had able mothers," 
appears especially true of the great chui-chmen and 
poets. The mother of St. John Chrysostoni ranks 
with the ^Monicas and Sylvias, already described. 

John, at the age of twenty, was already a renowned 
pleader at the bar. At the age of twenty-six, the dis- 
position to self-abnegation and the passion for solitude, 
which had distinguished him from boyhood, became 
so strong, that he wished to retire altogether from the 
world ; liis legal studies, his legal honors, had become 
hateful to him : he would turn hermit. For a time his 
mother's tears and prayers restrained him. He has 
himself recorded tlic pathetic remonstrance in which she 
reminded him of all she had done and suffered in her 
state of widowhood for his sake, and besought him not 
to leave her. For the present he yielded : but two years 
later he fled from society, and passed five or six years 
iu the wilderness near Antioch, devoting himself solely 
to the study of the Scri])tures, to penance and prayer ; 
feeding on the wild vegetables, and leading a life of 
such rigorous abstinence that his health sank under it, 
and he was obliged to return to Antioch. 

All this time he was not even an ordained priest ; 
but shortly after he had emerged from the desert, 
Flavian, l)ishop of Antioch, ordained him, and ap- 
pointed him preacher. At the moment of his con- 
secration, according to the tradition, a white dove de- 
scended on his head, which was regarded as the sign of 
immediate inspiration. He then entered on his true 
vocation as a Christian orator, the greatest next to 
Paul. On one occasion, when the people of Antioch 
had offended the Emperor Theodosius, and were 

thrtdtened with a punishment like that which had 
fallen on Thessalouira, the eloquence of St. John 
Clirvsostom saved theiu : he was so adored hv the |)co- 
pie, that when he was appointed patriarch of Constan- 
tinople, it was necessary to kidnap him, and carry him 
off from Antioch hy a force of armed soldiers, before 
the citizens had time to interfere. 

From the moment lie entered on his high office at 
Constantinople, he became the model of a Christian 
bishop. Humble, self-denying, sleeping on a bare 
plank, content with a little bread and pulse, he enter- 
tained with hospitality the poor and strangers : inde- 
fatigable as a preacher, he used his great gift of elo- 
quence to convert Ids hearers to what lie believed to be 
the truth : he united the enthusiasm and the imagina- 
tion of the poet, the elegant taste of the scholar, the 
logic of the pleader, .ith the inspired earnestness of 
one who had authori':y from above. He Avas, like St. 
Jerome, remarkable ror his influence over women ; 
and his correspondence with one of his female converts 
and friends, Olympias, is considered one of the finest 
of his works remaining to us : but, inexoi'able in his 
denunciations of vice, MJthout regard to sex or station, 
he thundered against the irregularities of the monks, 
the luxury and profligacy of the Empress Eudosia, and 
the servility of her fl-itterers, and brought down upon 
liimsclf the vengean of that haughty woman, with 
whom the rest of his life was one long contest. He 
M'as banished : the voiie of the people obliged the Em- 
peror to recall him. Persisting in the resolute defence 
of his church privileges, and his animadversions on the 
court and the clergy, he Avas again banished ; and, on his 
way to his distant ]>lace of exile, sank under fiitigue 
and the cruel treatment of his guards, who exposed 
him, bare'aeaded and barefooted, to the bm-ning sun 
of noon : and thus he perished, in the tenth year of his 
bishopric, and the sixty-third of his age. Gibbon adds, 
tliat, *' At the pious solicitation of the clergy and peo- 
ple pf Constantinople, his relics, thirty years after his 


death, were transported from their obscure sepulchre tc 
the royal city. The Emperor Theodosius advanced to 
receive them as far as Chalcedon, and, falling prostrate 
on the coffin, implored, in the name of his guilty 
parents, Arcadius and Eudosia, the forgiveness of the 
injured saint." 

It is owing, I suppose, to the intercourse of Venice 
with the East, that one of licr beautiful churches is 
dedicated to San Giau Grisostomo, as they call him 
there, in accents as soft and sonorous as his own Greek. 
Over the high altar is the grandest devotional picture 
in which I have seen tliis saint figure as a chief person- 
age. It is the masterpiece of Sebastian del Piombo,* 
and represents St. John Chrysostom throned and in the 
act of writing in a great book ; behind him, St. Paul. 
In front, to the right, stands St. John the Baptist, and 
behind him St. George, as patron of Venice; to the 
left jNIary Magdalene, with a beautiful Venetian face, 
behind her St. Catherine, patroness of Venice : close 
to St. J. Chrysostom stands St. Lucia holding her 
lamp ; she is here the type of celestial light or wis- 
dom. f This picture was for a long time attributed to 
Giorgione. There was also a very fine majestic figure 
of this saint by Rubens, in the collection of M. Schamp : 
he is in the habit of a Greek bishop ; in one hand he 
holds the sacramental cup, and the left hand rests on 
the Gospel : the celestial dove hovers near him, and 
two anuels are in attendance. 


I cannot quit the hi*tory of St. John Chrysostom 
without alluding to a subject well known to collectors 
and amateurs, and popularly called " La Penitence de 
St. Jean Clirijsostome." It represents a woman un- 
draped, seated in a cave, or Avilderness, Avith an infant 
in her arms ; or lying on the ground with a new-born 

* According to Sansovino, begun by Giorgioae and finished by 

t Dante, Ivf. c. 11. 


infant beside her ; in the distance is seen a man with a 
f;lorv round his liead, ineanre, naked, bearded, crawling 
on liis hands and knees in the most al)ject attitude ; 
beneath, or at the top, is inscribed S. Joiianes Ckisos- 


For a lonj^ time this sulyect perplexed me exceed- 
ingly, as I was quite unable to trace it in any of t!ic 
biographies of Chrysostom, ancient or modern : the 
kindness of a friend, learned in all the hijicaijs as well 
as the /u'r//ncai/s of Italian literature, at length assisted 
me to an explanation. 

The i)itter enmity excited against St. John Chrysos- 
tom in his lifetime, and the furious vituperations of his 
adversary, Theophilus of Alexandria, who denounced 
him as one stained by every vice, " hostem Inunanitatis, 
sacrilegorum principem, iinmandam dcemonem," as a wretch 
who had absolutely delivered up his soul to Satan, 
were apparently disseminated by the monks. Jerome 
translated the abusive attack of Theophilus into Latin ; 
and long after the slanders against Chrysostom had 
been silenced in the East, they survived in the West. 
To this may be added the slaughter of the Egyptian 
monks by the friends of Chrysostom in the streets of 
Constantinople ; which, I suppose, was also retained in 
the traditions, and mixed up with the monkish fictions. 
It seems to have been forgotten who John Chrysostom 
really was ; his name only survived in the popular bal- 
lads and legends as an epitome of every horrible crime ; 
and to account for his being, notwithstanding all this, 
a saint, was a diffieultv which in the old legend is sur- 
mounted after a very original, and, I must needs add, 
a very audacious fashion. " I have," writes my friend, 
" three editions of this legend in Italian, with the title 
La Historia tU San Giovanni Boccadoro. It is in ottava 
riina thirty-six stanzas in all, occupying two leaves of 
/etter-press. It was originally composed in the fifteenth 
century, and reprinted again and again, like the i)allads 
and tales hawked by itinerant ballad-mongers, from that 
day to this, and as well known to the lower orders as 


< Jack the Giant-killer ' here. I Avill give yon the story 
as succinctly and as properly as I can, A gentleman 
of the high roads, named Schitano, confesses his rob- 
berics and murders to a certai)i Frate, Avho al)solvcs 
him, upon a solemn promise, not to do three things, — 

' Che tu non f;icci falso sacrameuto, 
Ne hoinicidio, ue adulterare.' 

Schitano thereupon takes possession of a cave, and 
turns Romito (Hermit) in the wilderness. A neighbor- 
ing king takes his daughter out hunting with him ; a 
Avhitc deer stai'ts across their path ; the king dashes 
away in pursuit tea miles or more, forgetting his daugh- 
ter ; night comes on ; the princess, left alone in the 
forest, wanders till she sees a light, and knocks for ad- 
mittance at the cave of Schitano. He fancies at first 
that it must be the ' Demonio/ but at length he admits 
her after long hesitation, and turns her horse out to 
graze. Her beauty tempts him lo break one of his 
vows ; the fear of discovery induces him to viohite an- 
other by murdering her, and throwing her body into a 
cistern. The horse, however, is seen by one of the 
cavaliers of the court, who knocks, and inquires if he 
has seen a certain ' donzella ' that way. The hermit 
swears that he has not beheld a Christian face for three 
years, thus breaking his third vow ; but, reflecting on 
this threefold sin with horror, he imposes on himself a 
most severe penance ('uu aspra pcnitenza'), to wit: — 

'Di stare sette anni nell aspro dlserto. 
Pane non maiigero ne bcro vino, 
Ne mai risguardero il ciel scoperto, 
Non parlero Hebraico nc Latino, 
Per fin che quel ch' io dico non e certo, 
Che un fantin di sei di porga favella, 
" Perdonato t' ha Dio ; va alia tua ce 11a." ' 

" That is, he swears that for seven years he will nei- 
ther eat bread nor drink wine, nor look up in the face of 
heaven, nor speak either Hebrew or Latin, until it shall 
come to pass that an infant of seven days' old shall 


open its mouth anil say, ' Heaven Iiath pardoned tliee, 
— go in peace' So, stripping otf his clothes, he crawls 
on hands and knees like the beasts of the field, eating 
grass and drinking water. 

" Xor did his resolution fail him — he persists in 
this *' aspra penitenza ' for seven yeiu's, — 

'Sette anni e sette ginrni nel diserto ; 
Come le bestie andava liii carpnie, 
E mai non risguanio il del scoperto, 
^ Peleo egli era a raodo il' un nionloiie ; 
Spiue e faugo il suo ktto era \Kr certo, 
Del suo peccato havea coiitrizione ; 
E ogni cosa facea con gran ftrvore, 
Per purgar il suo tallo e grand' errore.' 

In the mean time it came into the king's head to draw 
the covers where the hermit was leading this life. The 
dogs of course found, but neither they nor the king 
could make anything of this new s[)ecies of animal, 
' che pareva un orso.' So they took him home in a 
chain and deposited him in tlieir zoological collection, 
where he refused meat and bread, and persisted in 
grazing. On Xew- Year's day the queen gives birth to 
a son, who, on the seventh day after he is born, says 
distinctly to the hermit, — 

' Torna alia tua cella, 
Che Dio t' ha perdonato 11 tuo peccato, 
Lsvati su, Romito I era favella ! ' 

But the hermit does not speak as commanded ; he 
makes signs that he will write. The king orders the 
inkstand to be brought, but there is no ink in it : so 
Schitano at once earns his surname of Boccadoro ( Chry- 
sostom) by a simple expedient : he puts the pen to his 
mouth, wets it with his saliva, and writes in letters of 
gold, — 

'Onde la penna in bocca si metteva, 
E a scrivere comincio senza dimoro, 
Col sputo, lettere che parevau d' oro ! ' 

"After seven years and seven days, he opens his 


golden moatli in speech, and confesses his foul crimes 
to the king ; cavaliers are despatched in search of thtj 
body of the princess ; as they approach the cavern they 
hear celestial music, and in the end they bring the don- 
zelia out of the cistern alive and well, and very sorry 
to leave the blessed Virgin and the angels, with whom 
she had been passing her time most agreeably : slie is 
restored to her parents with universal ycsto e al/egrezza, 
and slie announces to the hermit that he is pardoned 
and may return to his cell, which he does ^rthwith, 
and ends in leading the life of a saint, and being beati- 
fied. The ' discreti audltori ' are invited to take ex- 
ample, — 

' Da questo Santo pien fU legjriadria 
Che Iddio sempre perdona a' peccatori,' 

and are finally informed that they may purchase this 
edifying history on easy terms, to wit, a halfpenny, — 

' Due quattrini dia senza far pia parole.' 

The price, however, rose ; for in the next century the 
line is altered thus : — 

' Pero ciascun che compararne vuole, 
Tre quattriui mi dia senza pia parole.'" 

The woodcuts prefixed to the ballad represent this 
saintly Nebuchadnezzar on all fours, surpris^ed by the 
king with his huntsmen and dogs ; but no female figure, 
as in the German prints, in which the German version 
of the legend has evidently been in the mind of the 
artists. It differs in some respects from the Italian 
ballad. I shall therefore give as much of it here as 
will explain the artistic treatment of the story. 

"When John Chrysostom was baptized, the Pope* 
stood godfather. At seven years old he went to school, 

* The Greek word Papa, here transh\ted der Papst (the Pope), 
betrays the Eastern origin of tlie story. It is the general title of 
the Greek priesthood, and means simply a priest, elevated iu the 
German legend into " the Pope." 


but lie was so dull and backward that he became the 
lau!,'hing-stock of his schoolfellows. Unable to endure 
their mockery, he took refuge in a neighboring^ church, 
and prayed to the Virgin ; and a voice ■whispered, 
' Kiss me on the mouth, and thou shalt be endowed 
with all learning.' He did so, and, returning to the 
school, he surpassed all his companions, so that they 
remained in astonishment ; as they looked, they saw a 
golden ring or streak round his mouth, and asked him 
how it came there ; and when he told them, they won- 
dered yet more. Thence he obtained the name of 
Chrysostom. John was much beloved by his godfathcf 
the Pope, who ordained him priest at a very early age ; 
but the first time he offered the sacrifice of the mass, 
he was struck to the heart by his unworthiness, and 
resolved to seek his salvation in solitude ; therefore^ 
throwing off" liis priestly garments, he fled from tho 
city, and made his dwelling in a cavern of the rock, 
and lived there a long while in prayer and meditation. 
" Now not far from the wilderness in which Chrysos- 
tom dwelt, was the capital of a great king ; and it hap- 
pened that one day, as the princess his daugliter, who 
was voung and very fair, Avas walking with her com- 
pauions, there came a sudden and violent gust of wind, 
which lifted her up and carried her away, and set hci 
down in the forest, far off'; and she wandered aboul 
till she came to the cave of Chrysostom, and knocked 
at the door. He, fearing some temptation of the Devil, 
Avould not let her in ; but she entreated, and said, ' 1 
am no demon, but a Christian woman ; and if thou 
leavest me here, the w^ild beasts will devour me.' So 
he yielded perforce, and arose and let her in. And he 
drew a line down tlie middle of his cell, and said, 
* That is your part, this is mine ; and neither shall 
pass this line.' But this precaution was in Aain, foi' 
passion and temptation overpowered his virtue ; he 
overstepped the line, and sinned. Both repented sore- 
ly ; and Chrysostom, thinking that if the damsel re- 
mained longer in his cave it would only occasion further 


sin, carried her to a neighboring precipice, and flung 
her down. When he had done this deed, he was seized 
with horror and remorse ; and he departed and went to 
Eome to his godfather the Pope, and confessed all, and 
entreated absolution. But his godfather knew liim not ; 
and, Ijcing seized with horror, he drove him forth, and 
refused to absolve him. So the unhappy sinner fled to 
the wilderness, and made a solemn vow that he would 
never I'ise from the earth nor look up, but crawl on his 
hands and knees, uiuil he had expiated his great sin 
and was absolved by Heaven. 

" When he had thus crawled on the earth for fifteen 
years, the queen brought forth a son ; and when the 
Pope came to baptize the child, the infant opened its 
mouth and said, ' I will not be baptized by thee, but 
by St. John ' ; and he repeated this three times : and 
none could understand this miracle ; but the Pope was 
afraid to proceed. In the mean time the king's hunts- 
men had gone to the forest to bring liome game for the 
christening feast : there, as they rode, they beheld a 
strange beast creeping on the ground ; and not know- 
ins: what it midit be, thev threw a mantle over it and 
bound it in a chain and brought it to the palace. Many 
came to look on this strange beast, and with them came 
the nurse Avith the king's son in her arms ; and imme- 
diately the child opened its mouth and sj)ake, ' John, 
come thou and baptize me ! ' He answered, ' If it be 
God's will, speak again ! ' And the child spoke the 
same words a second and a third time. Then John 
stood up ; and the hair and the moss fell from his body, 
and they brought him garments ; and he took the child 
and baptized him Avith great devotion. 

" When the king heard his confession, he thought, 
' Perhaps this was my daughter, who was lost and never 
found ' ; and he sent messengers into the forest to seek 
for the remains of his daughter, her bones at least 
might rest in consecrated ground. When they came 
to the foot of the precipice, there they found a beautiful 
woman seated, naked, and holding a child in her arms ; 


and John said to her, ' Wliy sittest thou liere alone in 
tlie wilderness ? ' And she said : ' Dost thou not know 
me 1 I am the woman who came to thy cave by niti^ht, 
and wliom thou didst hurl down tliis rock ! ' Then 
they brought her Jiomc witii great joy to her par- 

This extravagant legend becomes interesting for two 
reasons : it shows the existence of the popular feeling 
and l)elief with regard to Chrysostom, long sul)se([uent 
to those events which aroused the hatred of the early 
monks ; and it has been, from its i)opular notoriety, 
embodied in some rare and valuable works of art, 
which all go under the name of " the Penance or Pen- 
itence of Johannes Chrysostom or Crisostomos." 

1. A rare print by Lucas Cranach, composed and 
engraved by himself. In the centre is an undraped 
woman reclining on the ground against a rock, and 
contemplating her sleeping infant, which is lying on 
her lap ; a stag, a hind crouching, a pheasant feeding 
near her, express the solitude of her life ; in the back- 
ground is " the savage man " on all fours, and brows- 
ing ; here he has no glory round his head. The whole 
composition is exceedingly picturesque. 

2. A rare and beautiful print by B. Beham, and I'c- 
peated by Hans Sibald Beham, represents a woman 
lying on the ground with her back turned to the spec- 
tator ; a child is near her ; Chrysostom is seen crawl- 
ing in the background, with the glory round his head. 

3. A small print by Albert Diirer, also exquisitely 
engraved. Here the woman is sitting at the entrance 
of a rocky cave, feeding her child from her bosom : in 
the background the " savaire man " crawling on all 
fours, and a glory round his head. This subject has 
been called St. Genevieve of Brabant ; but it is evi- 
dently the same as in the two last-named composi- 

* Koburgher, Legendensammlung, 1488, p. 325. Heller's Leben 
und Werke Albrecht Dtirer's, p. 440. 



All these prints, being nearly contemporaneous, show 
that the legend must have been particularly popular 
about this time (1509-1520). There is also an old 
French version of the story which I have not seen. 

St. Basil the Great. 

Lat. St. Basilius Magnvis. Ilal San Casilio Magno. Fr. St. Ba- 
sile. Juue 14, a. d. 380. 

St. Basil, called the Great, was born at Cesarea in 
Cappadocia, in the year 328. He was one of a family 
of saints. His fother St. Basil, his mother St. Em- 
melie, his two brothers St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. 
Peter of Sebaste, and his sister St. Macrina, were all 
distinguished for their sanctity, and renowned in the 
Greek calendar. The St. Basil who takes rank as the 
second luminary of the Eastern Church, and whose 
doiimatical and theological works influenced the faith 
of his own age, and consequently of ours, was the 
greatest of all. But, notwithstanding his importance 
in the Greek Church, he figures so seldom in the pro- 
ductions of Western Art, that I shall content myself 
with relating just so much of his life and actions as 
may render t!ie few representations of him interesting 
and intelligible. 

He owed his first education to his grandmother St. 
Macrina the elder, a woman of singular capacity and 
attainments, to whom he has in various parts of his 
works acknowledged his obligations. For several years 
he pursued his studies in profane learning, philosophy, 
law, and eloquence, at Constantinople, and afterwards 
at Athens, where he had two companions and fellow- 
students of very opposite character : Gregory of Nazi- 
anzen, afterwards tlie Saint; and Julian, afterwards 
the Apostate. 

The success of the j'outhful Basil in all his studies, 
and the reputation he had obtained as an eloquent 


pleader, for a time swelled his lieart with vanity, and 
would have cndaii^j^ered his salvation but for the influ- 
enc-e of his sister, St. Macrina, who in thiji emergency 

preserved him from himself, and elevated his mind to 
far liigher aims than those of mere worldly science and 
worldly distinction. From that period, and he was 
then not more than twenty-ci^ht, BlisII turned his 
thou^Iits solely to the editication of the Christian 
Church ; but first he spent some years in retreat 
among the hermits of the desert, as was the fashioa 
of that day, living, as they did, in abstinence, poverty, 
and abstracted studv ; acknowled^;ing neither country, 
family, home, nor friends, nor fortune, nor worldly in- 
terests of any kind, but with his thoughts fixed solely 
on eternal life in another world. In these austerities 
ho, as was also usual, consumed and ruined his bodily 
health ; and remained to the end of his life a feeble, 
wretched invalid, — a circumstance which was sup- 
posed to contribute greatly to his sanctity. He was 
ordained priest in 362, and Bishop of Ccsarea in 370 ; 
his ordination on the 1-lth of June being kept as one 
of the great feasts of the Eastern Church. 

On the episcopal throne lie led the same life of ab- 
stinence and humility as in a cavern of the desert ; 
and contended for the doctrine of the Trinity against 
the Ariaiis, but with less of vehemence, and more of 
charity, than the other Doctors engaged in the same 
controversy. The principal event of his life was his 
opposition to the Emperor Valeus, who professed Ari- 
anism, and required that, in the churcii of Cesarea, 
B.isil should perform the rites according to the custom 
of the Arians. The bishop refused : he was threat- 
ened with exile, confiscation, death : he persisted. The 
emperor, fearing a tumult, resolved to appear in the 
church on the day of the Epiphany, but not to com- 
municate. He came, hoping to overawe the impracti- 
cable bishop, surrounded by all his state, his courtiers, 
his cruards. He found Basil so intent on his sacred 
office as to take not the slightest notice of him : thos8 


of the clergy ai'ound him continued to chant the ser- 
vice, keeping their eyes fixed in the profoundest awe 
and respect on the countenance of their bishop. A^alens, 
in a situation new to him, became agitated : he had 
brouglit his oblation ; he advanced with it ; but the 
ministers at the altar, not knowing whether Basil 
would accept it, dared not take it from his hands. 
Valens stood there for a moment in sight of all the 
people, rejected before the altar, — he lost his presence 
of mind, trembled, swooned, and would have fallen to 
the eainli, if one of the attendants had not received 
him in his arms. A conference afterwards took place 
between Basil and the emperor ; but the latter re- 
mained unconverted, and some concessions to the 
Catholics was all that tlie bishop obtained. 

St. Basil died in 379, worn out by disease, and 
leaving behind him many theological writings. His 
epistles, above all, are celebrated, not only as models 
of orthodoxv, but of style. 

Of St. Basil, as of St^ Gregory and St. John Chry- 
sostom, we have the story of the Holy Ghost, in visible 
form, as a dove of wonderful whiteness, perched on his 
shoulder, and inspiring his words when he preached. 
St. Basil is also celebrated as the founder of Mona- 
chism in the East. He was the first who enjoined the 
vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience; and his Kule 
became the model of all other monastic Orders. There 
is, in fact, no other Order in the Greek Church, and 
when either monks or nuns -appear in a Greek or a 
Eussian picture they must be Basilicans, and no other : 
the hal)it is a plain black tunic with a cowl, tJie tunic 
fastened round the waist Avith a girdle of cord or leather. 
Such is the dress of the Greek caloyer, and it never 

The devotional figures of St. Basil represent him, or 
ought to represent him, in the Greek pontificals, bare- 
headed, and with a thin, worn countenance, as lie ap- 
pears in the etching of the (ircek Fathers. 



" The Emperor Valens in the churcli at Cesarea," 
an admirably picturesque subject, has received as little 
justice as the scene between Ambrose and Theodosius. 
When the Frendi painter Sul)lcyras was at Rome in 
1745, he raised himself to name and fame by his por- 
trait of Benedict XIV.,* and received, throuj^h the in- 
terest of his friend Cardinal Valenti, the commission 
to paint a picture for one of the mosaics in St. Peter's. 
The subject selected was the Emperor Valens faintinj; 
in presence of St. Basil. We have all the pomp of 
the scene : — the altar, the incense, the richly attired 
priests on one side ; on the other, the Imperial court. 
It is not easy to find fault, for the picture is well 
drawn, well composed, in the mannered taste of that 
time ; well colored, rather tenderly than forcibly ; and 
Lanzi is enthusiastic in his praise of the draperies ; 
yet, as a whole, it leaves the mind unimpressed. As 
usual, the oriixinal sketch for this picture far excels the 
lar^e composition.! 

The prayers of St. Basil were supposed by the Ar- 
menian Christians, partly from his sanctity, and partly 
from his intellectual endowments, to have a peculiar, 
almost resistless, power ; so that he not only redeemed 
souls from purgatory, but even lost angels from the 
abyss of hell. "On the sixth day of the creation, 
when the rebellious angels fell from heaven through 
that opening in the firmament which the Armenians 
call Arocea, and we the Galaxy, one unlucky angel, 
who had no participation in their sin, but seems to. 
have been entangled in the crowd, fell with them." 
(A moral, I presume, on the consequences of keeping 
bad company.) " And this unfortunate angel was not 
restored till he had obtained, it is not said how, the 
prayers of St. Basil. His condition meantime, from 
the sixth day of the creation to the fourth century of 
the Christian era, must have been even more uncom- 

* Sutherland Gal. 

t "//fir messe de Saint Banile.^'' Louvre, Ecole FrauQaise, 503. 


fortable tlian that of Klop^tock's repentant demon in 
The Messiah." 

There are many other beautiful lejrendary stories of 
St. Basil, l)ut, as I have never met with them in any 
form of Art, I pass them over here. One of the most 
striking has been versified by Southey in liis ballad- 
poem, " All for Love." It would afford a great va- 
riety of picturesque subjects. 

St. Atiianasius. 

Lat, S. Athanasius, Pater Orthodoxite. Ital. Sant' Atanasio. 
Ft. St. Athauase. May 2, a. d. 373. 

St. Athanasius, whose famous Creed remains a 
stumbling-block in Christendom, was born at Alexan- 
dria, about the year 298 ; he was consequently the 
eldest of the Greek Fathers, though he does not in that 
Church take the first rank. He, like the others, began 
his career by the study of profane literature, science, 
and eloquence; but, seized by the religious spirit of 
the age, he, too, fled to the desert, and became, for a 
time, the pupil of St. Anthony. He i-eturned to Alex- 
andria, and was ordained deacon. His first appear- 
ance as a public character was at the celebrated coujicil 
of Nice (a. d. 325), where he opposed Arius and his 
partisans with so much zeal and eloquence, that he was 
thenceforth regarded as the great pillar of orthodoxy. 
He became Bishop of Alexandria the following year ; 
and the rest of his life was a perpetual contest with the 
Arians. The great schism of the early Church blazed 
at this time in the East and in the West, and Athana- 
sius, by his invincible perseverance and intrepidity, 
procured the victory for the Catholic party. He died 
in 372, after having been Bishop of Alexandria forty- 
six years, of which twenty years had been spent in 
exile and tribulation. 


It is curious that, notwithstanding^ his fame and his 
importance in the Church, St. Atlianasius should be, 
as a patron and a su!)ject of Art, of all saints the most 
unpopular. He figures, of course, as one of the series 
of Greek Doctors ; but I liave never met with any 
separate representation of him, and I know not any 
church dedicated to him, nor aiiy picture represeutin;^ 
the vicissitudes of his unquiet life, frauj^ht as it was 
with strange reverses and picturesque incidents. Such 
maij exist, but in Western Art, at least, they have 
never been prominent. According to the Greek for- 
mula, he ought to be represented old, bald-headed, and 
with a long white beard. 


St. Gregory Xaziaxzex. 

Gr. St. Gragory Theologos. Lat. S Gregorius Nazianzenus. 
Ital. San Givgorio Nazianzeno. Fr. S. Grcgoire <le Nazi- 
ance. Ger. S. Gregor von Xaziaoz. May 9, a. d. 390. 

Tins Doctor, like St. Basil, was one of a family of 
saints ; his fatlier, St. Gregory, having been bishoj) of 
Nazianzus before him ; his mother, St. Nonna, famous 
for her piety ; and two of his sisters, St. Gorgonia and 
St, Cesarea, also canonized. Gregory was born about 
the year 323 ; and his mother, who fondly believed 
that he had been granted to her prayers, watched over his 
early education, and guided his first steps in piety and 
literature. "When a boy, he had a singular dream, 
which he has relateil himself. He beheld in his sleep 
two virgins of celestial beauty ; they were clothed in 
white garments, and their faces shone upon him like 
two stars out of heaven : they took him in their arms 
and kissed him as if he had been their child. He, 
charmed by their virgin beauty and their caresses, 
asked who they were, and whence they came ? One of 
them replied, " I am called Chastity, and my sister 
here is Temperance ; we come to thee from Paradise, 
where we stand continuallv before the throne of Christ. 


and taste ineffable delifrlits : come to us, my sou, and 
dwell ■vvitli us forever " ; and having spoken thus, 
tlicy left him and flew upwards to heaven. He fol- 
lowed them with longing eyes till they disappeared, 
and as lie stretched his arms towards them he awoke. 

Tiiis dream — how natural in a boy educated be- 
tween a tender mother, avIio had shielded him, as only 
mothers can, against all sinful temptations, and a 
lovely and saintly sister ! — he regarded as a direct rev- 
elation from Heaven ; it decided his future life, and he 
made a vow of perpetual continence and temperance. 
Like the other Greek doctors, he bc^an by the studvof 
profane literature and rhetoric. He went to Atliens, 
where he formed an enduring friendship with St. Basil, 
and pursued his studies with Julian, afterwards Ca3sar 
and Apostate. Afrer leaving Athens, in his thirtieth 
year, he was baptized; and, devoting himself solemnly 
to the service of God and the study of the Scriptures, 
like his friend Basil, he destroyed his health b}' his 
austerities and mortifications : he confesses that they 
were wholly repugnant to his nature, — a nature sensi- 
tive, imaginative, poetical ; but this of course only 
added to their merit and efficacv. His aged father 
withdrew him from his solitude, and ordained him as 
his coadjutor : in 3G2 he succeeded to the bishopric of 
Kazianus : but great part of his time was still spent at 
Constantinople, whither he was invited to preach 
against the Arians. It was a strange spectacle to see, 
in the capital of the world, a man, from a distant prov- 
ince and an obscure town, of small, shrunken stature, 
bald-headed, wrinkled, haggard with vigils and fasting, 
poor, ill-clothed, and in his address unpolished and 
abrupt, stand up to oppose himself to a luxurious 
court and prevalent sect. The people began by stoning 
him ; but at length his earnestness and eloquence over- 
came all opposition. 

Religious disputes were the fashion at that time in 
Constantinople, not merely among the ])ricsthood, but 
among the laity, the lawyers, and above all the women, 


wlio were lieard, in assemblies and at feasts, at home 
and abroad, declaiming and ariL,aun<:^ on the most 
abstruse mysteries of the evangelical doctrine, till they 
lost temper and modesty : — so true it is, that there is 
nothing new under the sun. This was in 378, and St 
Gregory found more difficulty in silencing their squab, 
bles than in healing the schisms of the Church. He 
was ordained Bishop of Constantinople by the favor 
of Theodoiius ; but, unable to endure the odious cabals 
and uncharitable contests which at that time' distracted 
and di.sirraced Christianity, he resigned his sacred office, 
and retired to a small paternal estate, where he lived, 
with his usual seU'-denial and austerity, till his death. 
He composed in his retreat a number of beautiful 
poems in his native Greek : he was, in fiict, the earli- 
est Christian poet on record. Tiiese poems are not 
hymns only, but lyrics, in which he poured forth his 
soul, his aspirations, his temptations, his joys, his suf- 
ferings, his plaintive supplications to Christ, to aid him 
in his perpetual combats against a too vivid imagina- 
tion, and feelings and passions which not even age 
and penance had subdued. 

St. Gregory Nazianzen ought to be represented as 
an old man, wasted by fasting and vigils, Avith a bald 
head, a long beard of a reddish color, and eyebrows 
the same. He is always the last in a series of the 
Four Greek Fathers, and, though often occurring in 
Greek Art, the popularity of St. Gregory the Great 
lias completely banished St. Gregory the Poet from 
Western Art. 

Tiicre remains, however, a very valuable and sin- 
gular monument to the honor of St. Gregory Kazia'i- 
zen, in the Greek IMS. of his sermons preserved in the 
Imperial Library at Paris, and adorned with Byzantine 
miniatures, which must once have been beautiful and 
brilliant : ruined as they are, they present some of the 
most ancient examples which remain to us of the 
treatment of many sacred subjects from the Old and 


the New Testament, and give a high idea of the classic 
taste and the skill of the Byzantine limners of the 
ninth century. Besides the sacred subjects, we have 
numerous scenes interspersed from the life of Gregory 
himself, his friend, St. Basil, and the Emperor Theo- 
dosius. As these are subjects which are exceptional, 1 
need not describe them. Of the style of the minia- 
tures i have already spoken. 

St. Cyril. 

Lat. S. Cyrillus. Ital San Cirillo. Fr. S. Cyrille. 
Jan. 28, a. d. 444. 

St. Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria from the year 412 
to 444, was famous in his time as deeply engaged in 
all the contests which disturbed the early Christian 
Church. He has left a great number of theological 
writings, which are regarded as authority in matters of 
faith. He appears to have been violent against the so- 
called heresies of that day, and opposed Nestorius with 
the same determined zeal and inexorable firmness with 
which Athanasius had opposed Arius. The asccnd- 
encv of Cvril was disgraced bv the death of the famous 
female mathematician and philosopher Hypatia, mur- 
dered with horrible cruelty, and within the walls of a 
church, bv the fanatic followers of the Patriarch, if he 
did not himself connive at it. He is much more ven- 
erated in the Greek than in the Latin Church. In the 
Greek representations he is the only bishop who has 
his head covered ; he wears a veil or hood, coming 
over his head, falling down on his shoulders, and the 
front embroidered witli a cross. 

With the Greek Fathers I conclude the list of those 
saints who are generally represented in their collective 
character, grouped, or in a series. 


St. Mary ^La.gdalene. 

Lat. Sancta Maria Magdalena. Itat. Santa Maria MadJalena. 
Fr. La Madeleine. L:i Sainte Demoiselle pecheresse. July •22, 
A. D. 6S Patroness of Provence, of Marseilles, and of frail and 
penitent women. 

^jiTIF all the personaj^es wlio figure in history, 
in poetry, in art, Maiy Majr'lalcnc is at 
7r\ once the most unreal and the most real : — 
the most unreal, if we attempt to fix her 
identity, which has been a subject of dispute for ajrcs ; 
the most real, if we consider her as havinjj been, for 
ages, recof^nizcd and acccpte«l in every Christian lieart 
as the impersonation of the penitent sinner absolved 
throu 'h fiiith and love. In this, her mvthic character, 
slie has been surrounded by associations which have 
become fixed in the imagination, and which no reason- 
injr, no array of facts, can dispel. This is not the 
place to enter into disputed points of Biblical criticism ; 
they are quite beside our present pur])ose. Whetlicr 
Marv Mairdalene, " out of whom Jesus cast seven 
devils," Mary of Bethany, and the " woman who 
was a sinner," be, as some authorities assert, three 
distinct persons, or, as others affirm, one and the same 


individual under different designations, remains a ques- 
tion open to dispute, nothing having been demonstrated 
on either side, from Scripture or from tradition ; and 
I cannot presume even to give an opinion Avhere doc- 
tors — and doctors of the Church, too — disagree ; 
Origen and St, Chrysostom taking one side of the 
question, St. Clement and St. Gregory the other. 
Fleury, after citing the o])inions of both sides, thus 
beautifully sums up the Avholc question : — "II im- 
porte de ne pas croire temerairemcnt ce que I'Evangile 
ne dit point, ct de nc pas mcttre _la religion a suivre 
aveuglement toutes Ics opinions populaires : la foi est 
trop precieuse pour la prcxligaer ainsi ; mais la charite 
Test encore plus ; et ce qui est le plus im])ortant, c'est 
d'eviter les disputes qui peuvent I'alterer tant soit peu." 
And this is most true ; — in his time the fast hold 
which the Magdalene had taken of the aflfcctions of 
the people was not to be shaken by theological re- 
searches and doubts. Here critical accuracy was noth- 
ing less than profanation and scepticism, and to have 
attacked tlic sanctity of the Blessed Mary Magdalene 
Avould have embittered and alienated many kindly and 
many believing spirits. It is difficult to treat of Mary 
IMagdalene ; and this difficulty would be increased in- 
finitely if it were absolutely necessary to enter on the 
mueli-vexed question of her Scriptural character and 
identity: one thing only appeal's certain, — that such 
a person, whatever might have been her veritable ap- 
pellation, did exist. The woman who, under the name 
of Mary jNIagdalene, — whether that name be right- 
fully or wrongfully bestowed, — stands before us, sanc- 
tified in the imagination and in the faith of the people 
in her combined character of Sinner and of Saint, as 
the first-fruits of Christian penitence, — is a reality, 
and not a fiction. Even if we would, we cannot do 
away with the associations inscparal)ly connected with 
her name and her image. Of all those to Avhom much 
has been forgiven, she Avas the first : of all the tears 
since ruefully shed at the foot of the cross of suffering, 


hers were the first : of all the hopes which the Resur- 
rection has since difiiised through nations and genera- 
tions of men, hers were the first. To her sorrowful 
image liow many have looked up through tears, and 
blesseil the pardoning grace of which she was the sym- 
bol, — or ratlier the impersonation ! Of the female 
samts, some were the chosen patrons of certain vir- 
tues, — others of certain vocations ; but the accepted 
and glorified penitent threw her mantle over all, and 
more especially over those of her own sex who, having 
gone astray, were recalled from error and from shame, 
and laid down their wrongs, their sorrows, and their 
sins in trembling humility at the feet of the Re- 

Nor is it only the popularity of Mary ^Magdalene as 
the representative and the patroness of repentant sin- 
ners wliich has multiplied her image through all Chris- 
tendom. As a subject for painting, 

" "Whether the fair one sinner it oi- saint it," 

it is rich in picturesque capabilities. It combines all 
that can inspire, with all that can chasten the fancy ; 
yet, when we review what has been done, how inade- 
quate the result! In no class of su!»jects have tiie 
mistakes of the painters, even the most distinguished, 
been so conspicuous as in the representation of the 
penitent Magdalene ; and ir must i»e allowed that, 
with all its advantages and attractions, it is a subject 
full of perils and ditficukies. Where the penitent i)re- 
vails, the saint appears degraded ; where the wasced, 
unclad form is seen attenuated by vigils and exposed 
in haggard unseemliness, it is a violation of that first 
great rule of Art Avhich forbids the repulsive and the 
painful. And herein lies the fault of the earlier schools, 
and particularly of the old Greek and German paint- 
ers ; — their matter-of-fact ugliness would be intolerable, 
if not redeemed l)y the intention and sentiment. On 
the other hand, where sensual beauty has obviously 
been the paramount idea in the artist's work, defeating 


its holiest purpose and pervei'ting its high significance, 
tlie violation of the moral sentiment is yet more revolt- 
ing-. This is especially the fault of the later painters, 
more particuhirly of the schools of Venice and Bo- 
logna : Avhile the French painters are yet Avorse, adding 
aflfectation to licentiousness of sentiment ; the Al)be 
Mery exclaims with reasonable and pious indignation 
against that ^^ air de galanterie" Avhich in his time was 
regarded as characteristic of Mary Magdalene. The 
" larmoyantes " penitents of Greuze — Magdalenes a 
la Pompadour — are more objectionable to my taste 
than tiiose of Rubens. 

I shall give the legend of the ]\ragdalene here as it 
was accepted by the people, and emliodied by the arts, 
of the middle ages, setting aside those Eastern tradi- 
tions which represent the Mary of Bethan}" and the 
Magdalene as distinct personages, and place the death 
and burial-place of Mary Magdalene at Ephesus. Our 
business is with the Western legend, which has been 
the authority for Western Art. This legend, besides 
attributing to one individual, and blending into one 
narrative, the very few scattered notices in the Gospels, 
has added some other incidents, inconceivaldy wild and 
incredible, leaving her, however, the invariable attri- 
butes of the frail, loving woman, the sorrowing peni- 
tent, and the devout, enthusinstic saint. 

Mary Magdalene was of the district of Magdala, on 
the shores of the sea of Galilee, where stood her castle, 
called JMagdalon ; she was the sister of Lazarus and 
of Martha, and they were the children of parents re- 
puted noble, or, as some say, of royal race. On the 
death of their father, Syrus, they inherited vast riches 
and possessions in land, which were eciually divided 
between them. Lazarns betook himself to the military 
life ; Martha ruled her possessions with great discre- 
tion, and was a model of virtue and {propriety, — per- 
haps a little too much addicted to worldly cares : INIary, 
on the contrary, abandoned herself to luxurious pleas- 


ures, and became at length so notorious for her disso- 
hite life, that slie was known throu^rh all the country 
round only as " the Sixxer." Her discreet sister, 
Martha, frequently rebuked her for these disorders, and 
at length persuaded lier to listen to the exhortations of 
Jesus, through which her heart was touched and con- 
verted. The seven demons which possessed her, and 
which were expelled by tlie power of the Lord, were 
the seven deadly sins to which she was given over be- 
fore her conversion. On one occasion Martha enter- 
tained the Saviour in her house, and, being anxious to 
feast him worthily, she was " cumbered with much 
serving." Alaiy, meanwhile, sat at the feet of Jesus, 
and heard his words, which completed the good work 
of her conversion ; and when, some time afterwards, 
he supped in the house of Simon the Pharisee, she fol- 
lowed him thither, " and she brought an alabaster box 
of ointment, and began to wasli his feet with tears, and 
did wipe them with the hair of her head, and kissed 
his feet, and anointed them with ointment ; and He 
said unto her. Thy sins are forgiven." She became 
afterwards one of the most devoted of his followers ; 
"ministered to him of her substance " ; attended him 
to Calvary, and stood weeping at the foot of the cross. 
She, with the other ]Mary, watched by his tomb, and 
was the first to whom he appeared after the resurrec- 
tion ; her unfoltering faith, mingled as it was with the 
intensest grief and love, obtained for her this peculiar 
mark of favor. It is assumed by several commentators 
that our Saviour appeared lirst to ]Mary Magdalene be- 
cause she, of all those whom he had left on earth, had 
most need of consolation : " The disciples icent aicay 
to their own home ; but Mary stood without the sepulchre, 

Thus far the notices in the Gospel and the sugges- 
tions of commentators : the old Provencal legend then 
continues the story. After the ascension, Lazarus with 
his two sisters, Martha and Mary ; with Maximin, one 


of the seventy-two disciples, from whom they had re- 
ceived baptism ; Cedon, the blind man whom our 
Saviour had restored to sight ; and Marcella, the 
handmaiden who attended on the two sisters, — were 
by the heathens set adrift in a vessel without sails, 
oars, or rudder ; but, guided by Providence, they 
were safely borne over the sea till they landed in a 
certain harbor which proved to be jNIarseilles, in the 
country now called France. The people of the land 
were Pagans, and refused to give the holy pilgrims 
food or shelter ; so they were fain to take refuge under 
the porch of a temple ; and Mary Magdalene preached 
to the people, reproaching them for their senseless woi'- 
ship of dumb idols ; and though at first they would 
not listen, yet being after a time convinced by her elo- 
quence, and by the miracles performed by her and by 
her sister, they were couA-erted and baptized. And 
Lazarus became, after the death of the good Maximin, 
the first bishop of Marseilles. 

These things being accomplished, IMary Magdalene 
retired to a desert not far from the city. It was a 
frightful, barren wilderness, in the midst of horrid rocks 
and caves : and here for thirty years she devoted her- 
self to solitaiy penance for the sins of her past life, 
wliich she had never ceased to bewail bitterly. During 
this long seclusion, she was never seen or heaixl of, and 
it was supposed that she was dead. She fasted so rigor- 
ously, that but for the occasional visits of the angels, 
and the comfort bestowed by celestial visions, she 
must have perished. Every day, during the last years 
of her penance, the angels came down from heaven 
and carried her up in their arms into regions where 
she was ravished by the sounds of unearthly harmony, 
and beheld the glory and the joy prepared for the sinner 
that repenteth. One day a certain hermit, who dwelt 
in a cell on one of those wild mountains, having wan- 
dered farther than usual from his home, beheld this 
wondrous vision, — the Magdalene in the arms of 
ascending angels, who were singing songs of triumph 


as they bore her upwards ; and the hermit, when he 
had a little recovered from his amazement, returned to 
the city of ^Marseilles, and reported what he had seen. 
Accordinij^ to some of the legends, Mary jNIa.crdalcne 
died wiiliin the walls of the Clu-istian church, after 
receiving the sacrament from the hand of St. ]Ma.\imin ; 
but the more popular accounts represent her as dying 
in her solitude, wliile angels watched over and minis- 
tered to her. 

The middle of the thirteenth century was an era of 
religious excitement all over the South of Europe. A 
sudden tit of penitence, — " una sul)ita compunzione," 
as an Italian author calls it, seized all hearts ; relics 
and pilgrimages, and penances and monastic ordi- 
nances, filled all minds. About this period, certain 
remains, supposed to be those of Mary Magdalene and 
Lazarus, were discovered at a place since called St. 
Maximin, a!)0ut twenty miles north of Toulon. Tiie 
discovery strongly excited the devotion and enthusiasm 
of the people ; and a church was founded on the spot 
by Charles, count of Provence (the brother of St. 
Louis), as early as 1279. A few years afterwards, this 
prince was vanquished and taken prisoner by the king 
of Aragon, and when at length set free after a long 
captivity, he ascril)cd his deliverance particularly to the 
intercession of his chosen patroness, Mary Magdalene. 
Tins incident greatly extended her fame as a saint of 
power; and from this time we may date her popularity, 
and those sculptural and pictorial representations of 
her, under v.arious aspects, which, from the fourteenth 
century to the present time, have so multiplied, that 
scarcely any Catholic place of worship is to be found 
without her image. In tact, it is difficult for us, ia 
these days, to conceive, far more difficult to sympa- 
thize with, the passionate admiration and devotion with 
which she was regarded by her votaries in the middle 
ages. The imputed sinfulness of her life only brought 
her nearer to them. Those who did not dare to lift 




up their eyes to the more saintly models of purity and 
holiness, — to the martyrs who had suffered in the 
cause of chastity, — took courage to invoke her inter- 
cession. Tlie extravagant titles bestowed ujion her in 
the middle ages, — " Vumdnte de Jesus CJin'st," "la hien- 
aime'e du Sauveur," " la tres-saincte demoiselle pe'cheresse,'' 
— and others which I should hai'dl}' dare to transcribe, 
show the spirit in which she was worshipped, particu- 
larly in the South of France, and the kind of chivalrous 
sentiment which mingled with the devotion of her 
adorers. I found in an old French sermon aculogium 
of Mary ^Magdalene, which for its eloquence and inge- 
nuity seems to me without a parallel. The preacher, 
while acknowledging the excesses which brought her a 
penitent to the feet of Christ, is perfectly scandalized 
that she should be put on a par witli common sinners 
of the same class, and that on the faith of a passage in 
St. Luke, " On a ose' fletrir une des plus belles ames 
qui soit jamais sortie des mains du Createur ! " He 
rather glorifies her as a kind of Aspasia, to whom, 
iudeed, he in a mauner compares her.* 

* " Pour vous ramener a des idees plus favorables k la Made- 
leine, V0U3 transportant au temps et aux circoiistanc:!S o'a vecut 
cette celebre Israelite, je pourrais vous dire, Messiecrs, que 
I'antiquite, ne jugeant pas equitable d'exiger plus de vertu du 
sexe rei)ute pour le plus faible, ne croj^ait pas les femmes des- 
honorJcs de ce qui ne deshouorait pas les homines a ses yeux ; 
qu'elle a d'ailleurs toujours ete bien moins severe a des senti- 
ments qui, naissant avec nous, lui paraissaient une partie de 
Dous-memes, et quVlle n'attacha jamais aucuue idee flctrissante 
aux suites d'une passion qu'elle tniuvait presqueaussi pardonna- 
ble que natuvelle. Les grices de la beaute etaient alors re- 
gard ecs comme les autres talents ; et I'art de plaire, aussi au- 
torise que les autres arts, loiu d'iiispirer de I'eloignement," &c. 

Aftjr describing in glowing terms, her spleadi.l position in the 
world, her illustrious rank, her understanding, '■'■ droit, so/ide, et 
dedcat,^^ her "grace " her " esprit,''^ her wondrous bjaut}', par- 
ticularly her superb hair, " cultive avec tant de soin, arrange 
avec tant d^art " ; and lamenting that a creature thus nobly 
gifted should have been cast away upon the same rock which had 
shipwrecked the greatest, the most illustrious, of her compatriotes 


The traditional scene of the penance of tlie Magda- 
lene, a wild spot between Toulon and jNIarseillcs, is the 

"Ze fort Samson, le preux David, le saje Solomon'''' ^ he 
goes on to dLScribe, with real eloqu.'nce, and in a less offensive 
strain of pftnejry'ic, her devotion at the foot of the cross, her piou3 
visit to the tomb by break of day, braving the fury of the guards, 
the cruelty of the Jews, and taking the place of the apostUs, who 
were dispersed or fled. And thua he winds up with a moral, most 
extraordinary when we recollect that it was preached from a pul- 
pit by a grave doctor in theology : — 

"Jeuncs personnes qui vivez encore dans I'innocence ! ap- 
prenez done de la Ma.lcbine, combijn grands sont les perils de 
la j;iunesse, de la beaut.-', de tons les dons purement naturel.s ; 
Bouvenez-vous que le dusir excjssif de pi aire est toujours dan- 
gereux, rarcment innocent, et qu'il est bi.'n difBcile de donner 
beaucoup de sentiments, sans en prendre soimeme. A la vue des 
faiblesses do la jeuue Israelite, comprenez de quelle importance 
est, pour vous, la garde de votre cueur ; et i quels desordres il 
vous expose, si vous nc vous accoutumez i le contrarier sans 
cesse, en tous ses penchants. 

" Femmes mondaines, et peut-etre voluptueuses ! apprenez de 
la Madeleine a rcvenir de vos ecarts ; ils ont ete, dans vous, le 
fruit de la faiblesse humaine ; que votre retour soit le fruit de 
votre correspo'.idance a la grice. Et pourriez-vous ou vous pro- 
poser un raodela plus digne d'etre suivi que celui que vous 
prcsente Madeleine, ou trouver ailleurs un motif plus puissant de 
le suivre ? 

"Et vous qui, ficres d'une reserve que vous ne devez peut- 
fetre qu'I votre insensibilit •, vous en faites un rempart, a I'abri 
duquel vous croyez pouvoir raepriser toute la terre, et dont la 
mondanite de Madeleine elle-raeme a i)eut-otre scandalise la 
precieuse vertu ! femmes plus vaines que sages I apprenez de 
notre Sainte, qu"il n'y a qua la grice de Dieu et une attention 
continuelle sur nous-raumes qui puissent nous aider constaniment 
centre la pente qui nous precipite vers le mal ; et craignez qu'on 
ne puisse vous dire, a son sujet, ce qui S.iint Augustin k. 
une devote de votre caractere, pleine d'ello-meme et meJisante : 
' Plut i Dieu que vous eussiez donne dans les memes exces^dont 
vous croyez-si volontiers les autres capables ! vous seriez moins 
tloignee du royaume de Dieu ; du moins vous auriez de 

L3 Drun's Magdalene is just the ^lagdalene described by this 
preacher : both one and the other are as like the Magdalene 0/ 
Scripture, as Leo X. was like St. Peter. 


site of a famous convent called La Sainte Bsaume 
(wliicli in the Provencal tongue siunifies Hohj Cave), 
fovnierlv a much frequented place of pilfrrimajre. It is 
built on the verge of a formidable precipice ; near it is 
the grotto in which the saint resided ; and to Mount 
Pilon, a rocky point about six hundred feet above the 
grotto, the angels bore her seven times a day to pray. 
This convent was destroyed and pillaged at the com- 
mcnccinent of the French Revolution. It was filled 
with relics and works of art, inferring to the life and 
the worship of the IVragdalenc. 

But the most sumptuous fane ever erected to her 
special honor is that which, of late years, has arisen 
in the city of Paris. The church, or rather the temple, 
of La jNIadeleine stands an excelling monument, if 
not of modern piety, at least of modern Art. It is 
built on the model of the temple of Jupiter at Athens. 

" That noble type is realized again 
In perfect form; and dedicate — to whom ? 
To a poor Syrian girl of lowliest name, — 
A hapless creature, pitiful and frail 
As ever wore her life in sin and shame ? " 

R. M. MiLNES. 

The saint, whether she were " the lowly Syrian girl " 
or the " Princess of Magdala," would be equally aston- 
ished to behold herself thus honored with a sort of 
pagan magnificence in the midst of a luxurious capital, 
and by a people more remarkable for scoffing than for 
praying. Even in the successive vicissitudes of this 
splendid edifice there is something strange. That 
Avhich is now the temple of the lowly j^cnitent was, a 
few years ago, Le Temple cle la Gloire. 

Let us now turn to those characteristic representa- 
tions with which painting and sculpture have made us 
familiar, and for which both Scripture and legendary 
tradition have furnished the authority and the ground- 
work. These are so numerous and so infinitely varied 
that I find it necessary here, as in the case of St. Jerome, 
to arrancre them under several heads. 



The devotional representations may be divided into 
two classes : 1 . Those which represent the Magdalene 
as patron saint. 2. Those which represent her peni- 
ten?e in the desert. 

The historical subjects may also be divided into two 
classes : 1. Those scenes from Gospel story in which 
Alary Magdalene figures as a chief or conspicuous 
personage. 2. The scenes taken from her legendary life. 

In all these subjects the accompanying attribute is 
the alabaster box of ointment ; which has a double sig- 
nificance : it may be the perfume which she poured 
over the feet of the Saviour, or the balm and spices 
which she had prepared to anoint his body. Sometimes 
she carries it in her liand, sometimes it stands at her 
feet, or near her ; frequently, in later pictures, it is 
borne by an attendant angel. The shape varies with 
the fancy of the artist ; it is a small vase, a casket, a 
box, a cup with a cover; more or less ornamented, 
more or less graceful in form; but always there, — the 
symbol at once of iier conversion and her love, and so 
peculiar that it can leave no doubt of her identity. 

Hjr drapery in the ancient pictures is usually red, to 
express the fervor of her love ; in modern representa- 
tions, and where she figures as penitent, it is either 
blue or violet ; violet, the color of mourning and pen- 
itence, — blue, the color of constancy. To express 
botlx the love and the :=orrow, she sometimes wears a 
violet-colored tunic and a red mantle. The luxuriant 
hair ought to be fair or golden. Dark-haired Magda- 
ienes, as far as I can remember, belong exclusively to 
the Spanisli school. 

I. Wnen exhibited to us as the patron saint of re- 
pentant sinners, Mary Magdalene Is sometimes a thin, 
wasted ilgure, with long, dishevelled hair, of a pale 
golden hue, falling over her shoulders almost to the 
ground ; someiimes a skin or a piece of linen is tied 
7ound her loins, but not seldom her sole drapery is her 
long, redundant hair. The most ancient single figure 
of this character to which I can refer is an old picture 


in the Byzantine manner, as old perhaps as the thir- 
teenth century, and now in the Academy at Florence, 
She is standin;:^ as patroness, covered only by her long 
hair, wliich falls in darl: brown masses to her feet : the 
color, I imagine, was originally much lighter. She 
is a meagre, haggard, grim-looking figure, and holds 
in her hand a scroll, on which is inscribed in ancient 
Gothic letters, — 

" "Se ticsprctctfjj 
Tos qui prccnre solclig 
22>:fni4)la iiiro 
Yos iqinralc Dro." =* 

Rude and unattractive as is this specimen of ancient 
Art, I could not look at it without thinking how often 
it must have spoken hope and peace to the soul of the 
trembling sinner, in days when it hung, not in a pic- 
ture-gallerv to be criticised, but in a shrine to be wor- 
shipped. Around this figure, in the manner of the old 
altar-pieces, are six small, square compartments, con- 
taining scenes from her life. 

The famous statue carved in wood by Donatello, in 
point of character may be referred to this class of 
subjects : she stands over her altar in the Baptistery 
at Florence, with clasped hands, the head raised in 
prayer; the form is very expressive of wasting grief 
and penance, but too meagre for beauty, " Egli la 
voile specchio alle penitenti, non inchamento alia cupidizia 
degli sguardi, come avenne ad altri artisti," says Cicog- 
nara ; and, allowing that beauty has been sacrificed to 
expression, he adds, " But if Donatello had done aJl, 
what would have remained for Canova ? " That 
which remained for Canova to do, he has done ; he has 
made her as lovely as possible, and he has dramatized 
the sentiment : she is more the penitent than the pa- 
tron saint. The display of the beautiful limbs is 

* The original Latin distich runs thus : — 

" Ne desperetis vos qui peccare soletis. 
Exemploque meo vo3 reparte Deo." 


chastened by the humility of the attitude, — lialf kneel- 
ing, half prostrate; by the expression of the drooping 
head, — " all sorrow's softness charmed from its de- 
spair." Iljr eyes are fixed on the cross which lies ex- 
tended ou her knees ; and she weeps, — not so much 
her own past sins, as the sacrifice it has cost to redeem 
them. This is the prevailing sentiment, or, as the 
Germans would call it, t!ie viotice of the representation, 
to which I should feel inclined to object as deficient in 
dignity and severity, and bordering too much on tlie 
gznre and dramatic style : but the execution is almost 
faultless. Very bo.autiful is another modern statue of 
tlie penitent Magdalene, executed in marble for the 
Count d'Espagnac, by M. Henri de Triqueti. She is 
half seated, half reclining, on a fragment of rock, and 
pi*essing to her bosom a crown of thorns, at once the 
mourner and the penitent : the sorrow is not for her- 
self alone. 

But, in her character of pati'on saint, Mary Magda- 
lene was not always represented with the squalid or 
pathetic attributes of humiliation and penance. S!ie 
became idealized as. a no!)le, dignified creature, bearing 
no traces of sin or of sorrow on her beautiful face ; her 
luxuriant hair bound in tresses round her head ; her 
drapery rich and ample ; tlie vase of ointment in her 
hand or at her feet, or borne by an angel near her. 
Not unfrequently she is attired with tlie utmost mag- 
nificence, either in reference to her former state of 
worldly prosperity, or rather, perhaps, that with the 
older painters, particularly those of the German school, 
it was a common custom to clothe all the ideal figures 
of female saints in rich habits. In the fourteenth and 
fifteenth centuries such representations of the Magda- 
lene are usual both in Italian and German Art. A 
beautiful instance may be seen in a picture by Signo- 
relli, in the Cathedral of Orvieto, where she is standing 
in a landscape, her head uncovered, and the rich golden 
hair partly braided, partly flowing over her slioulders ; 
she wears a magnificent tunic, embroidered with gold, 


over it a flowing' mantle descending to her feet ; she 
holds the vase with her left hand, and points to it with 
her right. If it were not for the saintly aureole en- 
circling her head, this figure, and others similar to it, 
might be mistaken for Pandora. See, for example, the 
famous print by Lucas v. Lcyden, where she stands on 
clouds, with an embroidered coif and flowing mantle, 
liolding the vase in her left hand, and lifting the cover 
with her riglit; and in the half-length by Leonardo, or 
one of his scliool. Tlie want of a religious sentiment 
gives such figures a very heathen and Pandora look, 
6o that the aureole alone fixes the identity. This is 
not the case with a nol)le jNIagdalene by Dennis Cal- 
vert, in the ^lanfrini Palace at Venice. She is stand- 
ing in a fine, bold landscape ; one hand sustains her 
ample crimson drapery, the other holds her vase ; her 
fair hair falls in masses over her shoulders, and she 
looks dov,n on her worshippers with a serious, dignified 
compassion. This is one of the finest pictures of the 
later Bologna school, finer and truer in sentiment than 
any of the Caracci and Guido Magdalenes. 

In this her wholly divine and ideal character of saint 
and intercessor, ^lary Magdalene is often most beau- 
tifully introduced as standing near the throne of the 
Virgin, or as grouped Avith other saints. In two of 
the most famous pictures in the world she is thus 
represented. In the St. Cecilia of Raphael, she stands 
on the left, St. Paul being on the riglit of the principal 
figure ; they are here significant of the conversion of 
the man through power, of the woman tlirough love, 
from a state of reprobation to a state of reconcilement 
and grace. St. Paul leans in deep meditation on his 
sword. Mary jMagdalene is habited in ample drapery 
of blue and violet, which she sustains with one hand, 
and bears the vase in the other. She looks out of tho 
picture with a benign countenance and a particularly 
graceful turn of the head. Raphael's ori<:inal design 
for this picture (engraved by Marc Antonio) is, how- 
ever, preferable in the sentiment given to the Magda 


lene : she does not look out of the picture, but she 
looks tip : she also hears the divine music which has 
ravished St. Cecilia. In the picture she is either un- 
conscious or inattentive. 

In the not less celebrated St. Jerome of Corrcfrgio 
she is on the left of the Madonna, bending down with 
an expression of the deepest adoration to kiss the feet 
of the Infant Christ, while an angel behind holds up 
the vase of ointment : thus recalling to our minds, 
and sliadowing forth in the most poetical manner 
that memorable act of love and homage rendered at 
the feet of tlic Saviour. Parmigiano has represented 
her, in a Madonna picture, as standing on one side, 
and the prophet Isaiah on the other. Lord Ashburton 
has a fine picture by Correggio, in which we have the 
same ideal representation • she is here grouped with 
St. Peter, St. Margaret, and St. Leonardo. 

There are two classes of subjects in which Mary 
Magdalene is richly habited, and which must be care- 
fully distinguished ; those above described, in which 
she figures as patron saint, and those whicli represent 
her before her conversion, as the votary of luxury and 
pleasure. In tlie same manner we must be careful to 
distinguish those figures of the penitent Magdalene 
which are wholly devotional in character and intention, 
and which have been described in the first class, from 
those which represent her in the act of doing penance, 
and which are rather dramatic and sentimental than 

2. The penance of the Magdalene is a subject which 
has become, like the penance of St. Jerome, a symbol 
of Christian penitence, but still more endeared to the 
popular imagination by more affecting and attractive 
associations, and even more eminently picturesque, — 
so tempting to the artists, that by their own predilec- 
tion for it they have assisted in making it universal. 
In the display of luxuriant female forms, shadowed 
(not hidden) by redundant fair hair, and flung in all 


the abandon of solitude, amid the depth of leafy re- 
cesses, or relieved by the dark iiniltrageous rocks ; in 
the association of love and beauty with the symbols of 
death and sorrow and utter humiliation ; the painters 
had ample scope, ample material, for the exercise of 
their imagination and the display of their skill : and 
what lias been the result ? They have abused these 
capabilities even to license ; they have exhausted the 
resources of Art in the attempt to vary the delineation ; 
and yet how seldom has the ideal of this most ex- 
quisite subject been — I will not say realized — but 
even approached ? We have jSIagdalencs who look 
as if they never could have sinned, and others who 
look as if they never could have repented ; we have 
Venetian Magdalencs with the air of courtesans, and 
Florentine Magdalencs with the air of Ariaducs ; and 
Bolognese Magdalencs like sentimental Xiobes ; and 
French ]Magdalenes, rnoitie galantes, moitie devotes ; and 
Dutch ^lagdalenes, who wring their hands like repent- 
ant washerwomen. The Magdalencs of Eubens re- 
mind us of nothing so much as of the " unfortunate 
Miss Bailey " ; and the Magdalencs of Van Dyck are 
fine ladies who have turned Methodists. But Mary 
Magdalene, such as we have conceived her, mournful 
yet hopeful, — tender yet dignified, — worn with grief 
and fasting, yet radiant with the glow of love and faith, 
and clothed with the beauty of holiness, — is an idea.1 
which painting has. not yet realized. Is it beyond the 
reach of Art 1 AVe might have answered this question, 
had Rapbael attempted it ; — but he has not. His 
Magdalene at the feet of Christ is yet unforgiven, — 
the forlorn castaway, not the devout penitent. 

The Magdalene doing penance in her rocky desert 
first became a popular subject in the sixteentli century ; 
in the seventeenth it was at the height of favor. There 
are two distinct versions of the subject, infinitely varied 
as to detail and sentiment ; eitlicr she is represented as 
bewailing her sins, or as reconciled to Heaven. 

In the former treatment she lies jirostrate on the 


earth, or she is st.andins: or kneeling at the entrance of 
the cave (in some of the old illuminated missals the 
upper part of her hody is seen emer^iiii:- from a cave, 
or rather a hole in the ground), the hands clasped, or 
extended towards lieaven ; the eyes streaming Avith 
tears ; the long yellow hair floating over the shoulders. 
The cnu'ifix, the skull, and sometimes the scourge, are 
introduced as emMems of faith, mortality, and penance; 
weeping angels present a crown of thorns. 

In the latter treatment, slic is reading or meditating ; 
the expression is serene or hopeful ; a hook lies heside 
the skull ; angels present the palm, or scatter flowers ; 
a vision of glory is seen in the skies. 

The alahaster box is in all cases the indispensable 
attribute. The eyes are usually raised, if not iii grief, 
in supplication or in aspiration. The "uplifted eye" 
as well as the " loose hair " became a characteristic ; 
but there are some exceptions. The conception of 
character and situation, which was at first simple, be- 
came more and more picturesque, and at length theat- 
rical, — a mere vehicle for sentiment and attitude. 

1. The earliest example I can remember of the Pen- 
itent IMagdalene, dramatical/ 1/ treated, remains as yet 
unsurpassed ; — the reading Magdalene of Correggio, 
in the Dresden Gallery. This lovely creation has oidy 
one fault, — the virginal beauty is that of a Psyche or 
a Seraph. In Oelenschlager's drama of " Correggio," 
there is a beautiful description of this far-famed pic- 
ture ; he calls it " Die Gottinn des Waldes Frommig- 
neit," — the goddess of the religious solitude. And in 
truth, if we could imagine Diana reading instead of 
hunting, she might have looked thus. Oelensehlager 
has made poetical use of the tradition that Correggio 
painted this Magilalene for a poor monk who was his 
confessor or physician ; and thus he makes Silvestro 
eommeut on the work : — 

" What a fair picture ! — 
This dark o'erhanging shade, the long fair hair, 
The delicate white skin, the azure robe, 


The full luxuriant life, the grim death's head, 
The tender womanhood, and the great book : — 
These various contrasts have you cunningly 
Brought into sweetest harmony." 

But truer, at least nobler in sentiment, is the Mas:- 
dalenc by the same painter (in the Manfrini Palace, 
Venice), of the same size and similarly draped in dark 
blue ; but here standing at the entrance of lier cave. 
She leans her elbow on the book which lies on the 
rock, and appears to be mcditatin<^ on its contents. 
The head, seen in front, is grand and earnest, with a 
mass of fair hair, a lai-ge wide brow, and deep, deep 
eyes full of mystery. The expression of power in this 
head pleases me especially, because true to the charac- 
ter, as I conceive it. 

" Doch ist es schbn von einem Weibe, mein ich, 
Einmal gefallen wieder sich zu heben ; 
Es gibt sehr wen'ge Minner die das konnen I " 

" Yes ! it is good to see a hapless woman, 
That once has fallen, redeem herself I In truth, 
There be few men, methinks, could do as much." 

Corregyio, Act I. Scene I. 

I do not know why this lovely Manfrini picture 
should be so much less celebrated than the Dresden 
Magdalene : while the latter has been multiplied by 
copies and engravings, I do not remember a single 
print after the Manfrini Magdalene, There is. a bad, 
feeble copy in the Louvre ; * I know no 

2. There is a celebrated picture by Timotco della 
Vite, in the Bologna Gallery, She is standing before 
the entrance of her cavern, arrayed in a crimson man- 
tle ; her long hair is seen beneath descending to her 
feet ; the hands joined in prayer, the head declined on 
one side, and the whole expression that of girlish inno- 
cence and simplicity, with a touch of the pathetic. A 
mendicant, not a Magdalene, is the idea suggested; 
and, for myself, I confess that at the first glance I was 

* It was in the Standish Gallery belonging to Louis-Philippe, 
and now dispersed. 


reminded of the little Red-Riding-Hood, and could 
think of no sin that could liave been attributed to 
such a face and figure, beyond the breaking of a pot 
of butter : yet the picture is very beautiful. 

3. The Magdalene of Titian was so celebrated in liis 
own time, that he painted at least five or six repeti- 
tions of it, and copies and en^'ravings have since been 
multiplied. The eyes, swimming in tears, are raised 
to lieaven ; the long dishevelled hair fioats over her 
shoulders ; one hand is pressed on her bosom, the 
other rests on tlie skull ; the forms are full and round, 
the coloring rich ; a book and a box of ointment lie 
before her on a fragment of rock. She is sufficiently 
woeful, but seems rather to regret her past life than to 
repent of it, nor is there anything in the expression 
which can secure us against a relapse. Titian painted 
the original for Charles Y. His idea of tlic pose was 
borrowed, as we are told, from an antique statue, and 
his model was a young girl, who being fatigued with 
long standing, the tears ran down her face, " and 
Titian attained the desired expression." (!) His idea 
therefore of St. ]Mary Magdalene was the fusion of an 
antique statue and a girl taken out of the streets ; and 
with all its beauties as a work of art — and very beau- 
tiful it is — this clipf d'ceuvre of Titian is, to my taste, 
most unsatisfactory. 

4. Cigoli's Magdalene is seated on a rock, veiled 
onli/ by her long hair, whiclt falls over the whole figure ; 
the eyes, still wet with tears, arc raised to heaven ; 
one arm is round a skull, the right hand rests on a 
book which is on her knees. 

5. The Magdalene of Carlo Cignani, veiled in her 
dishevelled hair, and Avringiug her hands, is also most 
affecting for the fervent expression of sorrow ; both 
these are in the Florence Gallery.* 

* There is a beautiful half-length female figure, attributed to 
Correggio. and engraved uud;r the title of' Gismunda" weeping 
over the heart of her lover, in the collection of the Cuke of New- 
castle. The duplicate in the Belvedere Gallery at Yienna is th-ra 
styled a Magdalene, and attributed correctly to Franceses Furiai- 


6. Guido, re<rarded as tlie painter of Masdalenes 
par excellence, lias carried tliis mistake yet Curtlicr; lie 
had ever the classical Niobe in his mind, and his 
saintly penitents, with all their exceeding loveliness, 
appear to me utterly devoid of that beauty which has 
been called " the beauty of holiness " ; the reproachful 
grandeur of the Niobe is diluted into voluptuous feeble- 
ness ; the tearful face, with the loose golden hair and 
uplifted eyes, of which he has given us at least ten 
repetitions, however charming as art, as painting are 
unsatisfactory as religious I'eprcseniations. 1 cannot 
except even the beautiful study in our National Gal- 
lery, nor the admired full-length in the Sciarra Palace, 
at Rome ; the latter, when I saw it last, appeared to 
me poor and mannered, and the pale coloring not 
merely delicate, but vapid. A head of Mary Magda- 
lene reading, apparently a study from life, is, however, 
in a grand style.* 

7. Murillo's Magdalene, in tlie Louvre, kneeling, 
with hands crossed on her bosom, eyes upraised and 
parted lips, has eager, devout hope as well as sorrow 
in the countenance. 8. But turn to the Magdalene 
of Alonzo Cano, which hangs near : drooping, neg- 
ligent of self; tlie very hands are nerveless, languid, 
dead, t Nothing but woe, guilt, and misery are in the 
face and attitude : slie has not yet looked into the 
face of Christ, nor sat at his feet, nor heard from his 
lips, " Woman, thy sins be foriiiven thee," nor dared 
to hope ; it is the penitent only : the whole head is 
faint, and the whole heart sick. 9. But the beautiful 
Magdalene of Annibal Caracci lias heard the words of 
mercy : she has memories which are not of sin only ; 
angelic visions have already come to her in that wild 
solitude : she is seated at the foot of a tree ; she leans 
her cheek on her right hand, the other rests on a skull ; 
she is in deep contemplation ; but her thoughts are not 

* Lichtenstein Gal. 

t These tvN'o pictures were sold out of the Louvre witli King 
Louis-Philippe's pictures. 


of death : the upward ardent look is full of hope, and 
faith, and love. Tlie fault of this beautiful little pic- 
ture lies in the sacrifice of the truth of the situation to 
the artistic feelinL,^ of beauty, — the common fault of the 
school ; the forms arc larj^^e, round, full, untouched by 
grief and penance. 

10. Vandyck's Majrdalenes have the same fault as 
his ^Lidonnas ; they arc not feeble nor voluptuous, but 
they arc too cle.u^ant and ladylike. I remember, for 
example, a Deposition by Vandyck, and one of his 
finest pictures, in which Mary Ma.i^dalene kisses the 
hand of the Saviour with quite the air of a princess. 
The most beautiful of his penitent Magdalenes is the 
half-lenujth figure with the face in profile, bending with 
clasped hands over the crucifi.K ; the skull and knotted 
scourire lie on a shelf of rock behind : underneath is 
the inscription, " FalUt gratia et vana est pnlchrititdo ; 
m'dier timens Dominum ipsa landabitnr." (Prov. xxxi. 
30.) 11. Rubens has given us thirteen Magdalenes, 
more or less coarse ; in one picture * she is tearing her 
hair like a disappointed virago ; in another, the ex- 
pression of grief is overpowering, but it is that of a 
woman in the house of correction. From this sweep- 
ing condemnation I must make one exception ; it is 
the picture known as " The Four Penitents." t In 
front the Magdalene bows down her head on her 
clasped hands with such an expression of profound 
humility as Rubens only, when painting out of nature 
and his own heart, could give. Christ, with an air 
of tender yet sublime compassion, looks down upon 
her : " Thy sins be forgiven thee ! " Behind Christ 
and the Magdalene stand Peter, David, and Didymus, 
the penitent thief ; the faces of these three, thrown into 
shadow to relieve the two principal figures, have a self- 
abased, mournful expression. I have never seen any- 
thing from the hand of Rubens at once so pure and pa- 

* Turin Gallery. 

t Munich Gallery, 266. There is an inferior repetition in the 
Royal Gallery at Turin. 


thetic in sentiment as this picture, while the force aiid 
truth of the painting are, as usual, wonderful. No one 
should judge Rubens who has not studied him in the 
Munich Gallery. 

The Historical Subjects from the life of Mary- 
Magdalene are either Scriptural or legendary ; and the 
character of the ^Magdalene, as conceived by the great- 
est painters, is more distinctly expressed in those Scrip- 
tural scenes in which she is an important figure, than 
in the single and ideal representations. The illumi- 
nated Gospels of the ninth century furnish the oldest 
type of Mary, the penitent and the sister of Lazarus, 
but it differs from the modern conception of the Mag- 
dalene. She is in such subjects a secondary Scriptural 
personage, one of the accessaries in the history of 
Christ, and nothing more : no attempt was made to 
give her importance, either by beauty, or dignity, or 
prominence of place, till the end of the thirteenth cen- 

The sacred subjects in which she is introduced are 
the following : — 

1. Jesus at supper with Simon the Pharisee. — " And 
she began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe 
them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and 
anointed them with ointment." (Luke vii. 30.) 

2. Christ is in the house of Martha and Mary. — 
" And she sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his words ; but 
Martha was cumbered with much serving." (Luke x 
39, 40.) 

3. The Eaising of Lazarus. — " Lord, if thou hadst 
been here, my brother had not died." (John xi. 32.) 

4. The Crucifixion. — " Now there stood by the 
cross Mary Magdalene." (John xix. 25 ; Matt, xxvii. 

5. The Deposition from the Cross. — " And Mary 
Magdalene, and the mother of Jesus, beheld Avhere he 
was laid." (Mark xv. 47.) 

6. The Marys at the Sepulchre. — " And there was 

ST. MARY Magdalene. 385 

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, sitting over 
against the sepulchre." (Matt, xxvii, 61.) 

7. Christ appears to Mary Magdalene in the Gar- 
den, called the XoU me tamjere. — " Touch me not, for 
I am not vet ascended to my Fatlier." (John xx. 

In the first, second, and last of these sulyects, the 
Magdalene is one of the two principal figures, and ne- 
cessary to the action ; in the others she is generally intro- 
duced, hut in some instances omitted ; and as all belong 
properly to the life of Cin-ist, T shall confine myself now 
to a few remarks on the characteristic treatment of the 
Magdalene in each. 

1. Tlic supper with Simon has been represented in 
every variety of style. The earliest and simplest I 
can call to mind is the fresco of Taddeo Gaddi in the 
Rinuccini Chapel at Florence. The Magdalene bends 
down prostrate on the feet of the Saviour ; she is in a 
red dress, and her long yellow hair flows down her back ; 
the seven devils by which slie was possessed are seen 
above, flying out of the roof of the house in the sliapc of 
little black monsters. Raphael, when treating the same 
subject, thought only of the religious significance of the 
action, and how to express it with the utmost force 
and the utmost simplicity. There are few figures, — 
onr Saviour, the Pharisee, four apostles, and two at- 
tendants : Mary Magdalene, in front, bends over the 
feet of Christ, while her long hair half conceals her 
face and almost sweeps the ground ; nothing can ex- 
ceed the tenderness and humility of the attitude and the 
benign dignity of Christ. As an example of the most 
opposite treatment, let us turn to the gorgeous compo- 
sition of Paul Veronese ; we have a stately banquet- 
room, rich architecture, a crowd of about thirty figures ; 
and the jMagdalene is merely a beautiful female with 
loose robes, dishevelled tresses, and the bosom dis- 
played : this gross fault of sentiment is more conspic- 
uous in the large picture in the Durazzo Palace at 
Genoa, than in the beautiful finished sketch in the col- 


lection of Mr, Rogers.* A fine sketch by the same 
painter, hut quite different, is at Alton Towers. The 
composition of Eu!)ens, of which a very fine sketch is 
in the Windsor collection, is exceedingly dramatic : 
the dignity of Christ and the veneration and humility 
of tlic ^Magdalene are admirably expressed ; but the 
disdainful surprise of some of the assistants, and the open 
mockery of others, — the old man in spectacles peering 
over to convince himself of the truth, — disturb the 
solemnity of the feeling : and this fault is even more 
apparent in the composition of Philippe de Cham- 
pagne, where a young man puts up his finger with no 
equivocal expression. In these two examples the 
moment chosen is not " Thy sins are forgiven thee," 
but the scepticism of the Pharisee becomes the leading 
idea : " This man, if he were a prophet, icould have known 
whio and what manner of woman this is." 

2. Christ in the house of Martha and Mary. Of 
this beautiful suljcct I have never seen a satisfactory 
vei'sion ; in the fresco by Taddeo Gaddi in the Rinuc- 
cini Chapel the subject becomes legendary rather than 
Scriptural. Mary Magdalene i& seated at the feet of 
Christ in an attitude of attention ; Martha seems to 
expostulate ; three of the disciples are behind ; a little 
out of the principal group, St. Marcella, with a 
glory round her head, is seen cooking. At Hampton 
Court there is a curious picture of this subject by Hans 
Vries, wliich is an elaborate study of architecture : the 
rich decoration of the interior has been criticised ; but, 
according to the legend, Martha and Mary lived in 
great splendor ; and there is no impropriety in repre- 
senting their dwelling as a palace, but a very great 
impropriety in rendering the decorations of the palace 
more important than tlie personages of the scene. In 
a picture by Old Bassano, Christ is seen entering the 

* The great picture formerli' in the Durazzo Palace is now in 
the Royal Gallery at Turin. It is wonderful for life and color, and 
dramatic feeling, — a masterpiece of the painter, in his character- 
istic style. 


house ; Mary Magdalene goes forward to meet him ; 
Martha points to the table where Lazarus sits com- 
posedly cutting a slice of sausage, and in the corner St. 
Marcella is cooking at a tire. In a picture by Rubens 
the treatment is similar. The holy sisters are like two 
Flemish farm servants, and Christ — but I dare not 
proceed- — in both these instances, the coloring, the 
expression, the painting of the accessaries — the vege- 
tables and fruit, the materials and implements for 
cooking a feast — are as a.nimated and true to nature, 
as the conception of the wliole scene is trivial, vulgar, 
and, to a just taste, intolerably ])rofane. 

One of the most modern compositions of this scene 
which has attracted attention is tliat of Overbeck, very 
simple and poetical, but deficient in individual ex- 

3. The raising of Lazarus was selected by the early 
Christians as an emblem, both of the general resurrec- 
tion, and the resurrection of our Saviour, at a time 
tliat the rosurrec'tioa of the Saviour in person was con- 
sidered a subject much too solemn and mysterious to 
be dealt with by the imitative arts. Li its primitive 
signification, as the received emblem of the resurrec- 
tion of the dead, we find this subject abounding in the 
catacombs, and on the sarcophagi of the third and 
fourth centuries. Tlie usual manner of representation 
shows the dead man swathed like a mummy, under the 
porch of a temple resembling a tomb, to which there is 
an ascent by a flight of steps. Christ stands before 
him, and touches him with a wand. Sometimes there 
are two figures only, but in general Mary Magdalene 
is kneeling by. Tiiere is one instance only in which 
Christ stands surrounded by the apostles, and the two 
sisters are kneeling at his feet : " Lord, hadst thou 
been here, my brother had not died." (Bottari, Tab. 


In more modern Art, this subject loses its mystic 
signification, and becomes simply a Scriptural incident. 
It is ti-eated like a scene in a drama, and the painters 


have clone their utmost to vary the treatment. But, 
however varied as regards the style of conception and 
the number of personages, ]\Iavtlia and ]\Iary are al- 
ways present, and, in general, Mary is at the feet of 
our Saviour. The incident is of course one of the most 
important in the life of Christ, and is never omitted in 
the scries, nor yet in the miracles of our Saviour. But, 
from the beginning of the fourteenth century, it forms 
one of the scenes of the story of Mary Magdalene. 
The fresco of Giovanni da Milano at Assisi contains 
thirteen figures, and the two sisters kneeling at the 
feet of Christ have a grand and solemn simplicity ; but 
Mary is not here in any respect distinguished from 
Martha, and both are attired in red. 

In the picture in our National Gallery, the kneeling 
figure of Mary looking up in the face of Jesus, with 
her grand, severe beauty and earnest expression, is 
magniticent : but here, again, Mary of Bethany is 
not Mary Magdalene, nor the woman " who was a 
sinner " ; and I doubt Avhether Michael Angelo in- 
tended to represent her as such. On the other hand, 
the Caracci, Rubens, and the later painters are careful 
to point out the supposed identity, by the long fair 
hair, exposed and dishevelled, the superior beauty and 
the superior prominence and importance of the figure, 
while Martha stands by, veiled, and as a secondary 

4. In the Crucifixion, where more than the three 
figures (the Ecdeemcr, the Virgin, and St. John) are 
introduced, the iMagdalene is almost always at the foot 
of the cross, and it is said that Giotto gave the first 
example. Sometimes she is embracing the cross, and 
looking up with all the abandonment of despairing 
grief, which is more picturesque than true in senti- 
ment ; finer in feeling is the expression of serene hope 
tempering the grief. In Rubens's famous " Crucifix- 
ion " at Antwerp, she has her arms round the cross, 
and is gazing at the executioner with a look of horror : 
this is very dramatic and striking, but the attention of 


rhe penitent ouglit to be fixed on the dying Saviour to 
the exclusion of every other thouglit or object. In 
Vandyck's " Crucifixion, " the face of tlie Magdalene 
seen in front is exquisite for its pathetic beauty. Some- 
times the Virgin is fainting in her arms. The box of 
ointment is frequently placed near, to distinguish her 
froni the otiier ^[arys present. 

5. In the Descent or Deposition from the Cross, and 
in the Entombment, Mary Magdalene is generally con- 
spicuous. She is often supporting the feet or one of 
the hands of the Saviour ; or she stands by weeping ; 
or she sustains the Virgin ; or (which is very usual in 
the earlier pictures) she is seen lamenting aloud, with 
her long tresses disordered, and her arms outspread iu 
an ecstasy of grief and passion ; or she bends down to 
embrace the feet of the Saviour, or to kiss his hand ; 
or contemplates with a mournful look one of the nails, 
or the crown of thorns, which she holds in her hand. 

In the Pieta of Pra Bartolomeo, in the Pitti Palace, 
the prostrate abandonment iu the tigure of the Magda- 
lene pressing the feet of Christ to her bosom, is full of 
■ pathetic expression ; in the same gallery is the Pieta 
by Andrea del Sarto, where the Magdalene, kneeling, 
Avrings her hands in mute sorrow. But in this, as in 
other instances, Raphael has shown himself supreme : 
there is a wonderful little dra\Wng by him, in which 
Nicodemus and others sustain the body of the Saviour, 
while Mary Magdalene lies prostrate bending her head 
over his feet, which she embraces ; the face is wholly 
concealed by the flowing hair, but never was the ex- 
pression of overwhelming love and sorrow conveyed 
with such artless truth. 

6. The ^Nlarys at the Sepulchre. The women who 
carry the spices and perfumes to the tomb of Jesus are 
called, in Greek Art, the Myrrhophores, or myrrh-bearers : 
with us there are usually three, — Mary ilagdalene, 
Mary the mother of James and John, and Mary Sa- 
lome. In Matthew, two women are mentioned ; in 
Mark, three ; in Luke, the number is indefinite ; and 


in John, only one is mentioned, Mary ^Magdalene. 
There is scarcely a more beautiful subject in the whole 
circle of Sc-ripture story, than this of the three desolate, 
affectionate women standing before the toml) in tlie 
gray dawn, wliile the majestic anucis are seen guarding 
the hallowed spot. One of the earliest examples is the 
t omposition of Duccio : the rules of perspective were 
then unknown, — but what a beautiful simplicity in 
the group of Avomen ! how line tlie seated angel f — 
" The angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and 
came and rolled back the stone from the door and sat 
upon it." I have seen one instance, and oidy one, in 
which the angel is in the act of descending ; in gen- 
eral, the version according to St. John is followed, and 
the " two men in shining garments " are seated within 
the tomb. There is a famous engraving, after a de- 
sign by Michael Angelo, called " The three Marys 
going to the Sepulchre " : it represents three old 
women veiled, and with their backs turned, — very 
awful ; but they might as well be called the three 
Fates, or the three Witches, as the three Marys. 
The subject has never been more Jiappily treated 
than by Philip Veit, a modern German artist, in a 
print which lias become popidar ; he has followed the 
version of Matthew: "As it began to dawn, came 
Mary Magdalene and the other ^lary to see tlie 
sepulchre." The attitude of motionless sorrow ; the 
anxious, expectant looks, fixed on the toml); the deep, 
shadowy stillness ; the morning light just breaking in 
the distance, are very truly and feelingly expressed. 

7. The "Koli me tangcre" is the subject of many 
pictures ; they do not vary in the simplicity of the 
motif, which is fixed by tradition, and admits but of 
two persons. The composition of Duccio, as one of 
the series of the Passion of Christ, is extremely grand ; 
and the figure of Mary, leaning forward as she kneels, 
with outstretched hands, full of expression. The old 
fresco of Taddeo Gaddi, in the Pinuccini Chapel,* is 

* Santa Croce, Florence. 



also exquisite. Two of the finest in conception and 
treatment are, notwitlistandinjr, in strikinjj^ contrast to 
each other. One is the Titian in the collection of Mr. 
Rollers : * the JMa^ilalenc, kncelini^, hends forward 
with eager expression, and one hand extended to 
touch liiin : the Saviour, drawing his linen garment 
round him, shrinks hack from lier touch, — yet with 
the softest expression of pity. Besides the heauty and 
truth of the expression, this picture is transcendent as 
a piece of color and effect ; while the rich landscape 
and the approach of morning over the blue distance 
are conceived witli a sul)lime simplicity. Not less a 
miracle of Art, not less poetical, hut in a far different 
style, is the Rernhrandt in tiie Queen's Gallery : at the 
entrance of the .sepulchre the Saviour is seen in the 
habiliments of a gardener, and Mary Magdalene at his 
feet, adoring. This picture exhibits, in a striking de- 
gree, all the wild originality and ])eculiar feeling of 
Rembrandt : the forms and characters are common ; 
but the deep shadow of the cavern tomb, the dimly- 
seen supernatural i)eings within it, the breaking of the 
dawn over the distant city, are awfully sublime, and 
worthv of the mvsterious scene. Barroccio's m-eat 
altar-piece, Avhich came to England with the Duke 
of Lucca's pictures, once so famous, and well known 
from the tine engraving of Raphael ^Nlorghen, is poor 
compared with any of these : Christ is effeminate and 
commonplace, — Mary Magdalene all in a flutter. 

I now leave these Scriptural incidents, to be more 
fully considered hereafter, and proceed to the fourth 
class of subjects pertaining to the life of the Magda- 
lene, — those which are taken from the wild Provencal 
legends of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. 

1. "La Danse de la Madeleine" is the title given 
to a very rare and beautiful print by Lucas v. Leyden. 
It represents Mary Magdalene abandoned to the pleas- 

* This beautiful and valuable picture has been bequeathed by 
the poet to the National Gallery. 


ures of the world. The scene is a smiling and varied 
landscape ; in the centre Marv Magdalene, with the 
anticipative glory round her head, is seen dancing 
along to the sound of a flute and tabor, while a man 
in a rich dress leads her by tlie hand : several groups 
of men and women are diverting themselves in the 
foreground ; in the background, JNIary INIagdalcne, 
with a number of gay companions, is chasing the 
stag ; she is mounted on horseback, and has again 
the glory round her head : far in the distance she is 
seen borne upwards by the angels. This singular and 
suggestive composition is dated 1519. There is a fine 
impression in the British jNIuseum. 

2. " ]Mary Magdalene rebuked by her sister INIartha 
for her vanity and luxury." I believe I am the first 
to suggest that the famous picture in the Sciarra Pal- 
ace, by Leonardo da Vinci, known as " Modesty and 
Vanity," is a version of this subject. When I saw it, 
this idea was suggested, and no other filled my mind. 
The subject is one often treated, and here treated in 
Leonardo's peculiar manner. The attitude of the 
veiled figure is distinctly that of remonstrance and 
rebuke ; the other, decked and smiling, looks out of 
the picture, holding flowers in her hand, as yet uncon- 
vinced, unconverted : the vase of ointment stands near 
her. In otlier pictures there is no doubt as to the sig- 
nificance of the subject ; it has been gracefully treated 
in a picture by GioA-anni Lopicino, now in the gallery 
of the Belvedere at Vienna. She is seated at her toi- 
let ; her maid is binding her luxuriant hair ; jNIartha, 
standing by, appears to be remonstrating with great 
fervor. There is a pretty picture by Elizabetta Sirani 
of the same scene, similarly treated. 

3. " Mary JNLagdalene conducted by her sister ]\Iar- 
tha to the feet of Jesus." Of tliis most beautiful sul)- 
ject, I know but one composition of distinguished 
merit. It is by Raphael, and exists only in the draw- 
ine:, and the rare engraving bv Marc Antonio. Christ 
sits within the porcli of the Temple, teaching four of 


his disciples who stand near hira. Martha and Mary 
ai'C seen ascending the steps which lead to the portico : 
Martha, who is veiled, se?ms to encourage her sister, 
who looks down. I obsL-rve that Passavaut and others 
are uncertain as to the suhject of this charming design- 
it has been styled " The Virgin Mary presenting the 
MagiUilene to Christ " ; hut witli any one who lias 
carefully considered the legend, there can be no doubt 
as to the intention of the artist. " Mary Magdalene 
listening to the preaching of our Saviour, with Martha 
seated by her side," is one of the sulyects in the series 
by Gaudsnzio Ferrari at Vercelli : it is partly destroyed. 
We liave the same subject by F. Zucchero ; Mary, in 
a rich dress, is kneeling at the feet of the Saviour, 
who is seated under a portico ; Martha, veiled, stands 
near her, and there are numerous spectators and acces- 

4. " The Magdalene renouncing the Vanities of the 
World," is also a very attractive subject. In a picture 
by Guido she has partly divested herself of her rich 
ornaments, and is taking some pearls from her hair, 
while she looks up to heaven witli tearful eyes. In a 
sketch by Rubens in the Dulwich Gallery, she is seated 
in a forest solitude, still arrayed in her worldly finery, 
blue satin, pearls, &c., and wringing her hands with 
an expression of the bitterest grief. The treatment, 
as usual with him, is coarse, but etFective. In his 
large picture at Vienna, with the figures life-size, 
jNIary is spurning with her feet a casket of je\s-els, aad 
throwing: herself back with her hands clasped in an 
agony of penitence : while Martha sits behind, gazing 
on her with an expression so demurely triumphant as 
to i)e almost comic. There is an exquisite little pic- 
ture by Gerard Douw in the Berlin Gallery, in which 
the Magdalene, in a magnificent rohe of crimson and 
sables, is looking up to heaven with an expression of 
sorrow and penitence ; the table before her is covered 
with gold and jewels. " Mary Magdalene renouncing 
;lie World," by Le Brun, is a famous picture, now iu 


the Louvre. She looks up to heaven with tearful eyes, 
and is in tlie act of tearing off a rich mantle ; a casket 
of jewels lies overturned at her feet. Tliis picture is 
said to be the portrait of Madame de la Valliere, by 
whose order it was painted for the church of the Car- 
melites at Paris, where she had taken refuge from the 
court and from the world. It has that sort of theat- 
rical grace and grandeur, that mannered mediocrity, 
characteristic of the painter and the time.* There is 
a Magdalene in the Gallery at Munich by Le Brun, 
whicli is to me far preferable ; and this, and not the 
Paris one, I presume to be the portrait of tlie Duchcsse 
de la Valliere. In a picture by Franceschini she has 
flung off her worldly ornaments, which lie scattered 
on the ground, and hoUls a scourge in her hand, with 
which she appears to have castigated herself: she sinks 
in the arms of one of her attendant maidens, while 
Martha, standing by, seems to speak of peace, and 
points towards heaven : the figures are life-size.t Kone 
of these pictures, with the exception of the precious 
Leonardo in the Sciarra Palace, have any remarkable 
merit as pictures. The scenes between ]\Iary and Mar- 
tha are cai)able of the most dramatic and effective 
illustration, but have never yet been worihily treated. 

5. " The embarkation of the Magdalene in Pales- 
tine, with Martha, Lazarus, and the others, cast forth 
by their enemies in a vessel without sails or rudder, 
but miraculously conducted by an angel," is anotlier 
subject of Avhich I have seen no adecpiate representa- 
tion. Tiicre is a mediocre picture by Curradi in the 
Florence Gallery. Among the beautiful frescos of 
Gaudcnzio Ferrari in the Church of St. Cristoforo at 
Vercelli, is the voyage of the Magdalene and her com- 
panions, and their disembarkation at Marseilles. 

6. " Mary Magdalene preaching to the inhabitants 
of Marseilles," has been several times represented in 

* The print by Elelinck is considered as the masterpiece of 
that celebrated engraver, 
t Dresden Gal. 



the sculpture and stained glass of the old cathedrals in 
the South of France. In the Hotel de Cluny there is 
a curious old picture in distemper attributed to King 
Re'iie of Proveiice, t!ie father of our Marij^arct of Anjou, 
and famous for his skill as a limner. Mary Ma.t::dalene 
is standing on some steps, arrayed in loose white dra- 
pery, and a veil over her head. She is addressing 
c;irnestly a crowd of listeners, and among them we see 
King Re'ue' and his wife Jeanne de Laval on tlirones 
witli crown and sceptre: — a triHing anachronism of 
about 1400 years, but it may be taken in a poetical 
and allegorical sense. The port of ^larseilles is seen 
in the background. The same subject has been classi- 
cally treated in a series of bas-reliefs in the porch of 
the Certosa at Pavia : there is a mistake, however, in 
exhil)iting her as half naked, clothed only in a skin, 
and her long hair flowing down over her person ; for 
she was at this time the missionary saint, and not yet 
the penitent of the desert. 

7. " ^lary ]\IaLi:dalene borne by angels above the sum- 
mit of Mount Pilon," called also "The Assumption of 
the Magdalene," is a charming subject when treated in 
the right spirit. Unfortunately, we are oftencr reminded 
of a Pandora, sustained by a group of Cupids, or a Venus 
rising out of the sea, than of the ecstatic trance of the 
reconciled penitent. It was very early a popular theme. 
In the treatment we find little variety. She is seen 
carried upwards very slightly draped, and often with 
no other veil than her redundant hair, flowing over her 
whole person. She is in the ai-ms of four, five, or six 
angels. Sonntimes one of the angels bears the ala- 
baster box of ointment ; far below is a wild, mountain- 
ous landsi-ape, with a hermit looking up at the vision, 
as it is related in the legend. 

In a hymn to the Magdalene, by an old Provencal 
poet (Balthazar de la Burle), thei-e is a passage de- 
scribing her accent in the arms of angels, which, from 
its vivid, graphic naivete, is worthy of being placed 
under this print of Albert Diirer : — 


" Ravengat lou jour los anges la portavan 
Ben plus hault que lou roc. 

Jamais per mauvais temps que fessa ne freddura, 
Autre abit non avia que la sien cabellura, 
Que como un mantel d'or tant eram bels e blonds 
La couvria de la testa fin al bas des talons." 

The fresco by Giulio Romano, in which she is re- 
clining amid clouds, and sustained by six angels, while 
her head is raised and her arms extended with tb.e 
most ecstatic expression, was cut from the walls of a 
chapel in the Trinita di Monte, at Eome, and is now 
in our National Gallery. 

One of the finest pictures ever painted by Ribera is 
the Assumption of the Magdalene in the Louvre, both 
for beauty of expression and color. She is here draped, 
and her drapery well managed. Tlie Spanish painters 
never fell into the rai.stake of the Italians ; they give 
us no Magdalencs which recall the idea of a Venus 
^Meretrix. The rules of the Inquisition were here ab- 
solute, and held the painters in wholesome check, ren- 
dering such irreligious innovations inadmissible and 
unknown. In the Turin Gallery there is an Assump- 
tion of the ]Magdalene by Dennis Calvert, admirably 
painted, in which she is carried up by four Apollo-like 
angels, who, with their outstretched arms, form a sort 
of throne on which she is seated : she is herself most 
lovely, draped in the thin undress of a Yenus ; and 
tlie whole composition, at first view, brought to my 
fancy the idea of a Venus rising from the sea, throned 
in her shell and sustained by nymphs and cupids. 

In general, the early painters, Albert DUrer, Viva- 
rini, Lorenzo di Credi, Benedetto Montagna, represent 
her in an upright position, with hands folded in prayer, 
or crossed over her bosom, and thus soaring upwards 
without effort of will or apparent consciousness ; 
while the painters of the seventeenth century (with 
whom this was a favorite subject) strained their imagi- 
nation to render the form and attitude voluptuously 
graceful, and to vary the action of the attendant angels,. 


until, in one or two instances, the representation be- 
came at once absurdly prosaic and oti'cnsively theat- 
rical. F. Zucchero, Cambiasi, Lanfranco, Carlo Ma- 
ratti, have all o-iven us versions of this subject in a 
florid, mannered style. 

Over the high altar of the Madeleine, at Paris, is 
the same subject in a marble group, by Marochetti, 
rather above life-size. Two angels bear hor up, while 
on each side an archangel kneels in adoration. 

8. The Last Communion of the Magdalene is repre- 
resented in two dilforent ways, according to tlie two 
different versions of the sfory : in the lirst, she expires 
in hor cave, and angels administer the last sacraments; 
one holds a taper, another presents the cuj), a third the 
wafer. This has been painted by Domenichino. In 
the other version she receives the sacrament from the 
hand of St. Maximin, who wears the episcopal robes, 
and the Magdalene kneels before him, half-naked, ema- 
ciated, and sustained by angels : the scene is the porch 
of a church. 

9. The Magdalene dying in the Wildeniess, extend- 
ed on the bare earth, and pressing the crucitix to her 
bosom, is a frequent subject in the seventeenth cQutury. 
One of the finest exam])les is the picture of Rustichino 
in the Florence Gallery. The well-known " Dying 
Magdalene " of Canova has the same merits and de- 
fects as his Penitent Magdalene. 

I saw a picture at Bologna by Tiarini, of which the 
conception appeared to me very striking and poeiical. 
The Virgin, " La Madre Addolorata," is seated, and 
holds in her hand the crown of thorns, which she con- 
templates with a mournful expression ; at a little dis- 
tance kneels Mary Magdalene with long, dishevelled 
hair, in all the abandonment of grief. St. John stands 
behind, with his hands clasped, and bis, ^d^i-feh^pd ^ 

heaven. x'n>^'^^ '^ v, 

When the Magdalene is intr^di^a into^ctuijas^W . 
the " Incredulity of Thomas, /''i^s in fl^siojj\.tt} a fa^ 
mous parallel in one of tli^ ^atljers^ in^'^iiich^t j^/ 

■ " >*^''! -ff-'"^ <^' 


insisted, " that the faith of Mary Magdalene, and the 
douhts of Tlioraas, were equally serviceable to the 
cause of Christ." 

Among the many miracles imputed to the Magda- 
lene, one only has become popular as a subject of Art. 
Besides being extremely naive and poetical, it is ex- 
tremoiy curious as illustrating the manners of the time. 
It was probaljly fabricated in the fourteenth century, 
and intended as a kind of parable, to sliow that those 
who trusted in Mary Magdalene, and invoked her aid, 
might ill all cases reckon upon her powerful interces- 
sion. It is thus related : — 

" Soon after Mary Magdalene landed in Provence, a 
certain prince of that country an-ivcd in the city of 
Marseilles Avith his wife, for the purpose of sacrificing 
to the gods ; but they were dissuaded from doing so 
b}' the preaching of Mary Magdalene : and tli£ prince 
one day said to the saint, ' We greatly desire to have a 
son. Canst thou obtain for us that grace from the 
God whom thou preachest ? ' And the Magdalene re- 
plied, ' If thy prayer be granted, wilt thou then believe'?' 
And he answered, ' Yes, I will believe.' But shortly 
afterwards, as he still doubted, he resolved to sail to 
Jerusalem to visit St. Peter, and to find out whether 
his preaching agreed Avith that of JNIary Magdalene. 
His wife resolved to accompany him : but the husband 
said, ' How shall that be possible, seeing that thou art 
with child, and the dangers of the sea are very great ? ' 
But she insisted, and, throwing herself at his feet, she 
obtained her desire. Then, having laden a vessel with 
all that was necessary, they set sail ; and when a day 
and a night Avere come and gone, there arose a terrible 
storm. The poor Avoman Avas seized prematurely Avith 
the pains of childbirth ; in the midst of the tempest she 
brought forth her first-born son, and then died. The 
miserable father, seeing his Avifc dead, and his child de- 
prived of its natural solace, and crying for food, Avrung 
his hands in despair, and kncAv not Avhat to do. And 


the sailors said, ' Let us throw this dead body into the 
sea, for as loiij^ as it remains on board the tempest will 
not abate.' But the prince, by his entreaties, and by 
giving them money, restrained them for a while. Just 
then, for so it pleased God, they arrived at a rocky 
island, and tlie prince laid the body of his wife on the 
shore, and, taking the infant in his arms, lie wept 
greatly, and said, ' Mary Magdalene ! to ray grief 
and sorrow didst thou come to ^larseilles ! Why 
didst thou ask thy Grod to give me a son only that I 
might lose both sou and wife together ? O Mary 
Magdalene ! liavc pity on my grief, and, if thy prayers 
may avail, save at least the life of my child ! ' Then 
he laid down the infant on the bosom of the mother, 
and covered them both with his cloak, and went on his 
way, weeping. And when the prince and his attend- 
ants had arrived at Jerusalem, St. Peter showed him 
all the places where our Saviour had performed his 
miracles, and the hill on which he had been crucitied, 
and the spot from whence he had ascended into heaven. 
Having been instructed in the faith by St. Peter, at 
the end of two years the prince embarked to return to 
Ills own country, and passing near to the island in 
wliicli he had Icfc his wife, he landed in ortler to weep 
upon her grave. 

" Now, wonderful to relate ! — his infant child had 
been preserved alive by the prayers of the blessed Mary 
Magdalene ; and he was accustomed to run about on 
the sands of the sea-shore, to gather up pebbles and 
shells ; and when the child, who had never beheld a 
man, perceived the strangers, he was afraid, and ran 
and hid himself under the cloak which covered his dead 
mother ; and the father, and all who were with him, 
were filled with astonishment ; but their surprise Avas 
still greater when the woman opened her eyes, and 
stretched out her arms to her husband. Then they 
otF.'red up thanks, and all returned together to Mar- 
seilles, where they fell at the feet of Mary Magda- 
lene, and received baptism. From that time forth, all 


the people of Marseilles and the surrounding country 
became Christians." 

The picturesque capabilities of this extravagant but 
beautiful legend will immediately suggest themselves to 
the fancy : — the wild sea-shore, — the lovely naked in- 
fant wandering on the beach, — the mother, slumbering 
the sleep of death, covered with the mysterious dra- 
pery, — the arrival of the mariners, — what opportunity 
for scenery and grouping, color and expression ! It 
was popular in the Giotto school, which arose and 
flourished just about the period when the enthusiasm 
for Mai-y Magdalene was at its height ; but later paint- 
ers have avoided it, or, rather, it was not sufficiently 
accredited for a Church legend ; and I have met with 
no example later than the end of the fourteenth cen- 

The old fresco of Taddeo Gaddi in the S. Croce at 
Florence will give some idea of the manner in which 
the subject was usually treated. In the foreground is a 
space representing an island ; water flowing round it, 
the water being indicated by many strange fishes. On 
the island a woman lies extended with her hands 
crossed upon her bosom ; an infant lifts up the mantle, 
and seems to show her to a man bending over her ; the 
father on his knees, with hands joined, looks devoutly 
up to heaven ; four others stand behind expressing as- 
tonishment or fixed attention. In the distance is a 
ship, in which sits a man with a long white beard, in 
red drapery ; beside him another in dark drapery : be- 
yond is a view of a port Avith a lighthouse, intended, I 
presume, for Marseilles. The story is here told in a 
sort of Chinese manner as regards the drawing, com- 
position, and perspective ; but the figures and heads 
are expressive and significant. 

In the Chapel of the Magdalene at Assisi, the same 
subject is given with some variation. The bark con- 
taining the pilgrims is guided by an angel, and the in- 
fant is seated by the head of the mother, as if watch- 
ing her. 


The life of Mary Magdalene in a series of subjects, 
mingling the Si-riptural and legendary incidents, may 
ofcen be found in the old French and Italian churches, 
more especially in the chapels dedicated to her : and I 
should think that among tlie remains of ancient paint- 
ing now in course of discovery in our own sacred edi- 
fices they cannot fail to occur.* In the mural frescos, ia 
tlie altar-pieces, the stained glass, and the sculpture of 
the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, such a series per- 
petually presents itself ; and, well or ill executed, will in 
general be found to comprise the following scenes : — 

1. Her conversion at the feet of the Saviour. 2. 
Christ entertained in the house of Martha : Mary sits 
at his feet to hear his words. 3. The raising of Laza- 
rus. 4. Mary Magdalene and her companions embark 
in a vessel without sails, oars, or rudder. 5. Steered 
by an angel, they land at Marseilles. 6. Mary Mag- 
dalene preaches to the people. 7. The miracle of the 
mother and child. 8. The penance of the Magdalene 
in a desert cave. 9. She is carried up in the arms 
of angels. 10. She receives the sacraments from the 
hand of an angel or from St. Maximin. 11. She dies, 
and angels bear her spirit to heaven. t 

* There are about 150 churches in England dedicated in honor 
of 5Iary Magdalene. 

t There is a fine series of frescos from the life of Mary Magda- 
lene by Gaudenzio Ferrari, in the church of St. Cristoforo at Ver- 
celli. 1. Mary and Martlia are seated, with a crowd of others, 
listening to Christ, who is preaching in a pulpit. Martha is 
veiled ;ind tlioughtful -. Mary, richly dresse:l, looks up eagerly. — 
Half destroyed. 2. Mary anoints the feet of the Saviour : she 
lays her head down on his foot with a tender humiliation: in the 
background the Marys at the sepulchre and the Noli me tamjere. 
This also in great part ruined, 3. The legend of the Prince of 
Provence and his wife, who are kneeling before Lazarus and 
Mary. Martha is to the left, and Marcella behind. In the back- 
ground arii the various scenes of the legen<l : — the embarkation ; 
the scene on the island ; the arrival at Jerusalem ; the return to 
Marseilles with the chiLl. This is one of the best preserved, and 
the heads are remarkably fine. 4. Mary Magdalene sustained 
by angels, her feet resting between the wings of one of them, is 


The subjects vary of course in number and in treat- 
ment, but, with some attention to tlie foregoins; legend, 
they will easily be understood and discriminated. Such 
a series was painted by Giotto in the Chapel of the 
Bargello at Florence (where the portrait of Dante was 
lately discovered), but tliey are nearly obliterated ; the 
miracle of the mother and child is, however, to be dis- 
tinguished on the left near the entrance. The treat- 
ment of the whole has been imitated by Taddco Gaddi 
in the Rinuccini Chapel at Florence, and by Giovanni 
da Milano and Giottino in the Chapel of the Magda- 
lene at Assisi ; on the windows of the Cathedrals of 
Chartres and Bourges ; and in a series of bas-reliefs 
round the porch of the Certosa of Pavia, executed in 
the classisal style of the sixteenth century. 

On reviewing generally the infinite variety which 
has been given to these favorite subjects, the life and 
penance of the Magdalene, I must end where I be- 
gan ; — in how few instances has the result been satis- 
factory to mind or heart, or soul or sense ! Many 
have well represented the particular situation, the ap- 
propriate sentiment, the sorrow, the hope, the devotion : 
but who has given us the character? A noble crea- 
ture, with strong sympathies, and a strong will, with 
powerful faculties of every kind, Avorking for good 
or evil, — such a woman Mary Magdalene must have 
been, even in her humiliation ; and the feeble, girlish, 
commonplace, and even vulgar women who appear to 
have been usually selected as models by the artists, 
turned into Magdalenes by throwing up their eyes and 
letting down their hair, ill represent the enthusiastic 
convert, or the majestic patroness. 

borne upwanls. All the upper part of the figure is destroyed. 
la the background are the last communion and burial of the Mag- 
dalene. I s:i\v these frescos in October, 1855. Thej' suEf-red greatly 
from the siege ia 1633, when several bombs shattered this part of 
the wall, and will soon cease to exist. They art- engraved in their 
-resent state in Pianazzi's " Opere di Gaudenzio Ferrari," No. 19. 


I must not quit the subject of the Magdalene with- 
out some aUusion to those wild Icuends which suppose 
a tender attachment (but of course wholly pure and 
Platonic) to have existed between her and St. John the 
Evangelist* In the enthusiasm which Mary jMagda- 
Icne excited in tlie tliirtccntli century, no supposition 
that tended to exalt her was dcc;ncd too extravagant : 
some of her panegyrists go so far as to insist that the 
marriage at Cana, which our Saviour and his mother 
honored by their presence, was the nuirriage of St. 
Jo!m witli the Magdalene ; and that Christ repaired to 
the wedding-feast on purpose to prevent the accomplish- 
ment of the marriage, having destined both to a state 
of greater perfection. Tiiis fable was never accepted 
bv the Church ; and among the works of art conse- 
crated to religious purposes I have never met with any 
which placed St. Jolin and the Magdalene in particular 
relation to each other, except when they are seen to- 
gether at the foot of the cross, or lamenting with the 
Virgin over the body of the Saviour : but such was the 
popularity of these extraordinary legends towards the end 
of the thirteenth and in the beginning of the fourteenth 
century, that I think it possible such may exist, and, for 
want of this key, may appear hopelessly enigmatical. 

In a series of eight sul)jects which exhibit the life of 
St. John prefixed to a copy of the Eevelations,t there 
is one which I think admits of this interpretation. 
The scene is the interior of a splendid building sus- 
tained by pillars. St. John is baptizing a beautiful 
woman, wlio is sitting in a tub ; she has long golden 
hair. On the outside of the building seven men are 
endeavoring to see what is going forward : one peeps 
through tlie key-hole ; one has thrown himself flat on 

* Bayle, Diet Hist; Molanus, lib. iv., da Hist. Sacrar. S. Mag., 
cap. XX. p. 42B ; Thomasium, prefat. 73. The authority usually 
cite,! is Abdius, a writer who pretended to have lived in the first 
century, and whom Bayle styles " the most impudent of legea- 
dary impostors." 

t Paris Bibliotheque du Roi, MS. 7013, fourteenth century. 


the ground, and has his eye to an aperture ; a third, 
mounted on the shoulders of another, is trying to look in 
at a window ; a fifth, who cannot get near enough, tears 
liis liair in an agony of impatience ; and another is hawl- 
ing into the ear of a deaf and blind comrade a descrip- 
tion of what he has seen. The execution is French, 
of the fourteenth century ; the taste, it will be said, is 
also French ; tlie figures are drawn with a pen and 
slightly tinted • the design is incorrect ; but the vivaci- 
ty of gesture and expression, though verging on cari- 
cature^ is so true, and so comically dramatic, and the 
whole composition so absurd, that it is impossible to 
look at it without a smile. 

St. Martha. 

Ital. Santa Marta, Tergine, Albergatrice di Christo. Fr. Sainte 
Marthe, la Travailleuse. Patroness of cooks and housewives. 
Jane 29, A D. 84. 

Martha has shared in the veneration paid to her 
sister. The important part assigned to her in the his- 
tory of Mary has already been adverted to ; she is al- 
ways represented as the instrument through whom 
Mary was converted, the one who led her first to the 
feet of the Saviour. " Which thing," says the story, 
" should not be accounted as the least of her merits, 
seeing that Martha was a chaste and prudent virgin, 
and the other publicly contemned for her evil life; 
notwithstanding which, Martha did not despise her, 
nor reject her as a sister, but wept for her shame, and 
admonished her gently and with persuasive words ; 
and reminded her of her noble birth, to wliich she was 
a disgrace, and that Lazarus, their brother, being a 
soldier, would certainly get into trouble on her account. 
So she prevailed and conducted her sister to the pres- 
ence of Christ, and afterwards, as it is well known, she 
lodged and entertained the Saviour in her own house." * 

* II Perfetto Legendario. 



According to the Provencal legend, while Mary 
Magdalene converted the people of Marseilles, Martha 
preached to the people of Aix and its vicinity. In 
those days the countrv was ravaged by a fearful dragon, 
called tlie Tarasqae, which during the day lay con- 
cealed in the river lihone. Martlnx overcame this 
monster by sprinkling him with holy water, and hav- 
ing bound him with her girdle (or, as others say, her 
garter), the people speedily put an end to him. The 
scene of this lefjcnd is now the citv of Tarascon, where 
there is, or was, a magnificeut church, dedicated to St. 
Martha, and richly endowed by Louis XI. 

The same legends assure us that St. Martha was 
the first who founded a monastery for women ; the 
first, after the blessed iVIother of Christ, who vowed 
her virginity to God ; and that when she had passed 
many years in prayer and good works, feeling that 
her end was near, she desired to be carried to a spot 
where she could see the glorious sun in heaven, and 
that they should read to her the history of the passion 
of Christ ; and when they came to the words, " Father, 
into thy hands I commend my spirit," she died. 

As Mary Magdalene is the patroness of repentant 
frailty, so Martha is the especial patroness of female 
discretion and good housekeeping. In this character, 
she is often represented with a skimmer or ladle in her 
hand, or a large bunch of keys is attached to her girdle. 
For example, in a beautiful old German altar-piece, at- 
tributed to Albert Dilrer,* she is standing in a mag- 
nificent dress, a jewelled turban, and holding a well- 
known implement of cookery in her hand. In a mis- 
sal of Henry VIII.,t she is i-epresented with the same 
utensil, and her name is inscribed beneath. In gen- 
eral, however, her dress is not rich, but homely, and her 
usual attributes as patron saint are the pot of holy- 
water, the asperge in her hand, and a dragon bound at 
her feet. In the chapels dedicated to the Magdalene, she 
finds her appropriate place as pendant to her sister, 

* Queen's Gal. t Bodleian IVISS., Oxford. 


generally distinguished by ^er close coif, and by being 
draped in blue or dark brown or gray ; while the Mag- 
dalene is usually habited in red. When attended by 
her dragon, St. Martha is sometimes confounded with 
St. Margaret, who is also accompanied by a dragon 
but it must be remembered that St. Margaret bears a 
crucifix or palm, and St. ^Martha the pot of holy-water ; 
and in general the early painters haye been careful to 
distinguish these attributes. 

St. Martha, besides being a model of female discre- 
tion, sobriety, and chastity, and the patroness of good 
housewiyes, was, according to the old legends, the same 
•woman who was healed by Christ, and who in grati- 
tude erected to his honor a bronze statue, which statue 
is said to haye existed in tbe time of Eusebius, and to 
have been thrown down by Julian the Ajjostate.* 

When Martha and jNIary stand together as patron- 
esses, one represents the active, the other the contempla- 
tive, Christian life. 

Martha is generally introduced among the holy 
women who attend the cmcifixion and entombment 
of our Lord. In a most beautiful Entombment by 
Ambrooio Lorenzetti, Martha kisses the hand of the 
Saviour, Avhile Mary Magdalene is seen behind with 
outspread arms : Lazarus and Maximin stand at the 
head of the Sayiour. 

Lazakus, the brother of Martha and Mary, is re- 
vered as the first bishop and patron saint of Marseilles, 
and is generally represented with the mitre and stole. 
There are at least fifty saints who wear the same attire ; 
but when a figure in episcopal robes is introduced into 
the same picture, or the same series, with Martha and 

* It is perhaps in reference to this tradition that St. Martha 
has become the patroness of an order of charitable women, who 
Berve in the hospitals, particularly the military hospitals, in 
France and elsewhere, — her brother Lazarus having been a 

ST. LAZARdS. 407 

Mary, it may be presumed, if not otherwise distin- 
guished, to be St. Lazarus : sometimes, but rarely, 
the introduction of a bier, or bis resurrection, in the 
background, serves to fix the identity. Grouped Avith 
these three saints, we occasionally find St. Marcella 
(or Martilla), who accompanied tliem from the East, 
but who is not distinguished by any attribute ; nor is 
anything particular I'elated of her, except that she 
wrote the life of Martha, and preached the Gospel in 

There are beautiful full-length figures of Mary, Mar- 
tha, Lazarus, and Marcella, in the Brera at j\Iilan, 
painted by one of the Luini school, and treated in a 
very classical and noble style ; draped, and standing 
in niches to i-epresent statues. At Munich are the 
separate figures of ^Nlary, Martha, and Lazarus, by 
Gruenewald : Lazarus is seen standing by bis bier ; 
Mary, in the rich costume of a German lady of rank, 
presents her vase ; and ^Lirtha is habited like a Ger- 
man hausfran, with her dragon at her feet. They ai-e 
much larger than life, admira!)ly painted, and full of 
character, though somewhat grotesque in treatment. 

Over the altar of the church "La Major" at Mar- 
seilles, stands Lazarus as bishop ; Mary on the right, 
and ^L\rtha en the left : underneath these three statues 
runs a series of bas-reliefs containing the history of 
Lazarus. 1. He is recalled to life. 2. Seated on the 
edgG of his tomb he addresses the spectators. 3. He 
entertains Christ. 4. The arrival at jMarseilles. 5. He 
preaches to the people. 6. He is consecrated bishop. 
7. Hj suffers martyrdom. 

In a tabernacle or triptica by Xiccolo Frumenti (a. d. 
1461 * ), the central compartment represents the raising 
of Lazarus, who has the truest and most horrid ex- 
pression of death and dawning life I ever beheld. On 
the volet to the right is the supper in the house of 
Levi, and the Magdalene anointing the feet of the 

* Fl. Gal. 


Saviour ; on the left volet, INIartha meets him on his 
arrival at Bethany: "Lord, if thou hadst been here, 
my brother had not died." 

In the chapel of ]\Iary Maccdalenc at Assisi, we find, 
besides the history of lier life, full-length figures of 
Mary, Martlia, Lazarus, and Maxim in. Mary, a beau- 
tiful, dignified figure, as usual in rich, red drapery, 
stands to the right of the altar, holding out her hand 
to a kneeling Franciscan : on the left Martha stands in 
gray drapery with a close hood : Lazarus and. Maximin 
as bishops. 

This will give an idea of the manner in which these 
personages are either grouped together, or placed in 
connection with each other. 

St. ]\Lv.rt of Egypt. 

Ital. Santa Maria Egiziaca Penitente. Fr. Sainte Marie I'Egyp- 
tienne, La Gipesienne, La Jussienne. April 2, A. D. 433. 

I PLACE the story of St. Mary of Egypt hei-e, for 
though she had no real connection with the Magdalene, 
in works of art they are perpetually associated as/es 
hienlieureuses pecheresses, and in their personal and pic- 
torial attributes not unfrequently confounded. The 
legend of Mary Egijptiaca is long anterior to that of 
Mary Magdalene. It was current in a written form 
so early as the sixth century, being then i-eceived as 
a true liistory ; but it appears to have been originally 
one of those instructive parables or religious romances 
which, in the early ages of the Church, were composed 
and circulated for the edification of the pious. In 
considering the manners of that time, we may easily 
believe that it may have had some foundation in fact. 
That a female anchoret of the name of Mary lived and 
died in a desert of Palestine near the river Jordan, — 
that she there bewailed her sins in solitude for a long 
course of years, and was accidentally discovered, — is 

ST. MARi' OF EGYPT. 409 

a very aucient tradition, supported by contemporary 
evidence. The picturesque, miraculous, and romantic 
incidents with which the story has been adorned, ap- 
pear to have been added to enliance the interest ; and, 
in its present form, the legend is attributed to St. Je- 

" Towards the year of our Lord 3G5-, there dwelt in 
Alexandria a woman whose name was ]Mary, and who 
in the infamy of her life far exceeded Mary ]Magdalene. 
After passing seventeen years in every species of vice, 
it happened that one day, while roving along the sea- 
shore, she beheld a ship ready to sail, and a large com- 
pany preparing to embark. She inquired whither they 
were going ? They replied that they were going up 
to Jerusalem, to celebrate the feast of the true cross. 
She was seized with a sudden desire to accompany 
them ; but having no money, she paid the price of 
her passage by selling lierself to the sailors and pil- 
grims, whom she allured to sin by every means in her 
power. On their arrival at Jerusalem, she joined the 
crowds of worshippers who had assembled to enter the 
church; but all her attempts to pass the threshold were 
in vain ; Avhenever she thought to enter the porch, a 
supernatural power drove her back in shame, in terror, 
in despair. Struck by the remembrance of her sins, 
and filled with repentance, she humbled herself and 
prayed for help ; the intei'diction was removed, and 
she entered the church of God, crawling on her knees. 
Thenceforward she renounced her wicked and shameful 
life, and, buying at a baker's three small loaves, she 
wandered forth into solitude, ami never stopped or re- 
posed till s!ie had penetrated into the deserts beyond 
the Jordan, where she remained in severest penance, 
living on roots and fruits, and drinking water only: 
her garments dropped away in rags piecemeal, leaving 
her unclothed ; and she prayed fervently not to be left 
thus exposed ; suddenly her hair grew so long as to 
form a covering for her whole person (or, according 
to another version, an angel brought her a garment 


from heaven). Thus she dwelt in the wilderness, in 
prayer and penance, supported only by her three small 
loaves, Avhich, like th.e widow's meal, failed her not, 
until, after the lapse of forty-seven years, she was dis- 
covered by a priest named Zosimus. Of him slie re- 
quested silence, and that he would return at the end of 
a vear, and brinji; with him the elements of the holv 
sacrament, that she might confess and communicate, 
before she was released from earth. And Zosimus 
obeved her, and returned after a vear : but not beinor 
able to pass the Jordan, the penitent, snpcrnaturally 
assisted, passed over the water to him ; and, liaving 
received tiie sacrament with tears, she desired the priest 
to leave her once more to her solitude, and to return in 
a year from that time. And when he returned he found 
her dead, her hands crossed on her bosom. And he 
wept greatly ; and, looking round, he saw written in 
the sand these words : — ' O Father Zosimus, bmy the 
body of the poor siimer, Mary of Egypt ! Give earth 
to earth, and dust to dust, for Christ's sake ! ' He en- 
deavored to obey this last command, but being full of 
years, and troubled and weak, his strength failed him, 
and a lion came out of the wood and aided him, dig- 
ging with his ]iaws till the grave was sufficiently large 
to receive the body of the saint, which, being commit- 
ted to the earth, the lion retired gently, and the old 
man returned home, praising God, who had shown 
mercy to the penitent." 

In single figm-es and devotional pictures, Mary of 
Egypt is portrayed as a meagre, Avasted, aged woman, 
with long hair, and holding in Lcr hand three small 
loaves. Sometimes she is united with Mary Magda- 
lene, as joint emblems of female penitence; and not 
in painting only, but in poetry, — 

" Like redeemed Magdalene, 
Or that Egyptian penitent, whose tears 
Fretted the rock, and moistened round her cave 
The thirsty desert." 

ST. JfAliY OF EGYPT. 411 

Thus they stand toffether in a little, rare print by Marc 
Antonio, the one distinunished by her vase, tlie other 
by her three loaves. Sometimes, when they stand to- 
getl)er, Mixiy Ma:^dalenc is younir, beautiful, richly 
dressed ; and Mary of Ejrypt, a squalid, meagre, old 
woman, covered with rags : as in a rare and curious 
print by Israef von Meckeu.* 

Pictures from her life are not common. The earliest 
I have met with is the series painted on the walls of 
the Cliapel of the Barii'ello, at Florence, above the life 
of Mary Magdalene : tliey had l)een whitewashed over. 
In seeking for the portrait of Dante this whitewash has 
been in part removed ; and it is only just possible for 
those acquainted with the legend to trace in several 
compartments the history of Mary of Egypt. 

1. Detached subjects are sometimes met with. In 
the church of San Pietro-in-P6, at Cremona, they pre- 
serve relics said to be those of Mary of Egypt : and 
over the altar there is a large picture by Malosso, rep- 
resenting the saint at the door of the Temple at Jeru- 
salem, and repulsed by a miraculous power. She is 
richly dressed, Avith a broad-brimmed hat, and stands 
on the step, as one endeavoring to enter, while several 
persons look on, — some amazed, others moi-king. 

2. Mary of Egypt doing penance in the desert is 
easily confounded with the penitent Magdalene. Where 
there is no skull, no vase of ointment, no crucifix 
near her, where the penitent is aged, or at least not 
young and beautiful, with little or no drapery, and 
black or gray hair, the picture may be j^resumed to 
represent Mary of Egypt, and not the Magdalene, how- 
ever ii've in situaiion and sentiment. There is a large, 
fine pi -ture of this subject at Alton Towers. 

3. The first meeting of Mary and the hermit Zosi- 
mus has been painted by Ribera : in this picture her 
hair is gray and short, her skin dark and sunburnt, 
and she is clothed in rags. 

* B. Museum. 


4. In another picture by the same painter she is 
passing over the Jordan by the help of angels ; she 
is seen floating in the air with lier hands clasped, and 
Zosimus is kneeling by. This subject might easily be 
confounded with the Assumption of the Magdalene, 
but the sentiment ouaht to distiniruish them : for, in- 
stead of the ecstatic trance of the Magdalene, we have 
merely a miraculous incident : the figure is but little 
raised above the waters, and the hermit is kneeling on 
the shore.* 

5. St. Mary receives the last communion from the 
hands of Zosinius. I have known this subject to be 
confounded with the last communion of the Magda- 
lene. The circumstances of the scene, as well as the 
character, should be attended to. Mary of Egypt re- 
ceives the sacrament in the desert ; a river is generally 
in the background : Zosimus is an aged monk. Where 
the ]\Iagdalene receives the sacrament from the hands 
of Maximin, the scene is a portico or chapel with 
rich ax-chitecturc, and Maximin wears the habit of a 

6. The death of Mary of Egypt. Zosimus is kneel- 
ing beside her, and the lion is licking her feet or dig- 
ging her grave. The presence of the lion distinguishes 
this subject from the death of Mary ]\Iagdalene. 

St. Mary of Egypt was early a popular saint in 
France, and particularly venerated by the Parisians, 
till eclipsed by the increasing celebrity of the INIagda- 
lene. She was styled, familiarly, La Gipesienue (the 
Gypsy), softened by time into La Jussienne. The 
street in Avhich stood a convent of reformed women 
dedicated to her, is still la Rue Jussienne. 

We find her whole story in one of the richly painted 
windows of the cathedral of Chartres ; and again in 
the " Vitraux de Bourges," where the inscription un- 
derneath is written " Segiptiaca." 

Among the best modern frescos which I saw at 
Paris, was the decoration of a chapel in the church 

* It was in the Sp. Gal. in the Louvre, now dispersed. 



of St. Merry, dedicated to Ste. Marie rEj^ypticnne : 
tlie reli.^ious sentiment and manner of Middle- Age Art 
are as usual imitated, but with a certain unexpected 
originality in the conception of some of the sul)jects, 
which pleased me. 1. On the wall, to the right, she 
stands leaning on the pedestal of the statue of the 
Madonna in a meditative attitude, and having the 
dress and the dark complexion of an Egyptian dancing- 
girl ; a crowd of people are seen behind entering the 
gates of tlic Temple, at which she alone has l)een re- 
pulsed. 2. Slie yeceivcs the communion from the 
hand of Zosimus, and is buried by a lion. 

On the lefc-hand wall. 3. Her apotheosis. She is 
borne aloft by many angels, two of whom swing cen- 
sers, and below is seen the empty grave watched by a 
lion. 4. Underneath is a group of hermits, to whom 
tlxi aged Zosimus is relating the story of the penitence 
and death of St. Mai-y of Egypt. 

I do not in general accept modern representations as 
authorities, nor quote them as examples ; but this re- 
susL'itation of Mary of Egypt in a city where she was 
so long a favorite saint, api)ears to me a curious fact. 
Her real existence is doubted even by the writers of 
that Clmrcli which, for fourteen centuries, has cele- 
brated her conversion and glorilied her name. Yet 
the poetical, the moral significance of her story re- 
mains ; and, as I have i^eason to know, can still im- 
press the fancy, and, through the fancy, waken the 
conscience and touch the heart. 

Tiiere were several other legends current in the 
early ages of Ciiristianity, promulgated, it should 
seem, with the distinct purpose of calling the frail 
and sinning woman to I'epentance. If these were 
not pui'e inventions, if the names of these beatitied 
penitents i-etained in the offices of the Church must 
be taken as evidence that they did exist, it is not less 
certain that the prototype in all these cases was the 
reclaimed woman of the Scriptures, and that it was 
the pitying charity of Christ which first taught men 
and angels to rejoice over the sinner that repenteth. 


The legend of Mart, the niece of the hermit Abra- 
ham * must not be confounded with that of Maiy of 
Egypt. The scene of tliis story is placed in the des- 
erts of Syria. The anchoret Abraham liad a brother, 
who lived in the world and possessed great riches, and 
when he died, leaving an only daughter, she was 
brought to her uncle Abraham, apparently because of 
his great reputation for liolincss, to be brought uji as 
he should think fit. The ideas of this holy man, with 
regard to education, seem to have been those enter- 
tained by many wise and religious people since Iiis 
time ; but there was this ditFercnce, that he did not 
show lier tlie steep and thorny way to heaven, and 
choose for himself "the primrose path of dalliance." 
Instead of applying to his charge a code of morality 
as distinct as possible fi'om his own, he, more just, 
only brought up his niece in the same ascetic princi- 
ples which he deemed necessary for the salvation of 
all men. 

Mary, therefore, being brouglit to her uncle when she 
Avas only seven years old, he built a cell close to his 
own, in which he shut her up ; and, thi'ough a little 
window, which opened between their cells, he taught 
her to say her prayers, to recite the Psalter, to sing 
liymns, and dedicated her to a life of holiness and sol- 
itude, praying continually that she might be delivered 
from the snares of the arch-enemy, and keeping her 
far, as he thought, from all possibility of temptation ; 
while he daily instructed her to despise and hate all the 
pleasures and vanities of the world. 

Thus Mary grew up in her cell till she was twenty 
years old : then it happened that a certain youth, who 
Jiad turned hermit and dwelt in that desert, came to 
visit Al)raham to receive his instructions ; and he be- 
held through the window the face of the maiden as she 
prayed in lier cell, and heard her voice as she sang the 
morning and the evening hymn ; and he was inflamed 
with desire of her beauty, till his whole heart became 

* Santa Maria Penitente. 



as a furnace for the love of her ; and forgetting his re- 
ligious vocation, and moved thereto by the Devil, he 
tempted Mai-v, and she fell. When she came to her- 
self, her heart was troubled ; she beat her breast and 
wept bitterly, thinking of what she had been, what she 
had now become ; and she despaired, and said in her 
heart, " For me there is no hope, no return ; shame 
is my portion evermore ! " So she fled, not daring 
to meet the face of her uncle, and went to a distant 
place, and lived a life of sin and shame for two years. 

Now, on the same night that she fled from her cell, 
Abraham had a dream ; and he saw in his dream a 
monstrous dragon, who came to his cell, and finding 
there a beautiful white dove, devoured it, and returned 
to his den. When the hermit awoke from his di'eam, 
he was perplexed, and knew not what it might por- 
tend ; but again he dreamt, and he saw the same drag- 
on, and he put his foot on its head, and crushed it, 
and took from its maw the beautiful do^•c, and put it 
in his bosom, and it came to life again, and spread its 
wings and flew towards heaven. 

Then the old man knew that this must rela'-o to his 
niece Mary ; so he took up his staff, and went forth 
through the world, seeking her everywhere. At length 
he found her, and seeing her overpowered with shame 
and despair, he exhorted her to take courage, and com- 
forted her, and promised to take her sin and her pen- 
ance on himself She wept and embraced his knees, and 
said, " O my father ! if tliou thinkest that there is hope 
for me, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest, 
and kiss thv footstens which lead me out of this gulf 
of sin and death ! " So he prayed Avith her, and re- 
minded her that God did not desire the death of a sin- 
ner, but rather that he should turn from his wicked- 
ness and live ; and she was comforted. And the next 
morning Abraham rose up and took his niece by the 
hand, leaving behind them her gay attire and jewels 
and ill-gotten wealtli. And they returned together to 
the> cell in the wilderness. 



From this time did Mary lead a life of penitence and 
of great humility, ministering to her aged uncle, who 
died glorifying God : after his death, she lived on many 
years, praising God and doing good in humbleness and 
singleness of heart, and liaving favor with the people ; 
so that from all the country round they brought the 
sick, and those who were possessed, and she healed 
tliem, — such virtue was in her prayers, although she 
had been a sinner ! Nay, it is written, that even the 
touch of her garment restored health to the afflicted. 
At length she died, and the angels carried her spirit 
out of the shadow and the cloud of sin, into the glory 
and the joy of heaven. 

Although the legend of Mary the Penitent is ac- 
cepted by tlie Church, whicli celebrates her conversion 
on the 29th of October, effigies of her must be rare ; 
I have never met with any devotional representation of 
her. A print attributed to Albert Diirer represents the 
hermit Abraham bringing back his penitent niece to 
his cell.* 

In the Louvre are two large landscapes by Pliilippe 
de Champagne, which in poetry and grandeur of con- 
ception come near to those of Niccolb Poussin ; both 
represent scenes from the life of Mary the Penitent. 
In tlie first, amid a wild and rocky landscape, is the 
cell of Abraham, and Mary, sitting within it, is visited 
by the young hermit wlio tempted lier to sin : in the 
second, we have the same wilderness, under another 
aspect ; Mary, in a rude secluded hut, embowered in 
trees, is visited In*' pilgrims and votaries, who bring to 
her on their shoulders and on litters, the sick and 
afflicted, to be healed by her prayers. The daughter 
of Champagne, whom he tenderly loved, was a nun at 
Port Eoyal, and I think it probable that these pictures 
(like others of his works) were painted for that cele- 
brated convent. 

St. Thais, a renowned Greek saint, is another of 

* \jSni\\ und Werke von Albrecht Diirer, No. 2067. 


these " hienheureiises p€cheresses," not the samfc who sat 
at Alexander's feast, and fired Persepolis, but a fire- 
brand in her own way. St. Pelagia, called Pelagia 
Meretrix and Pelagia Mima (for she was also an ac- 
tress), is another. These I pass over without farther 
notice, because I have never seen nor read of any rep- 
resentation of them in Western Art. 

St. Afra, who sealed lier convei-sion with her blood, 
.will be found amoni' the Martvrs. 

Poets have sung', and moralists and sages have 
taught, that for tlie frail Avoman there was nothing left 
but to die ; or if more remained for her to suffer, there 
was at least notliing left for her to be or do : no choice 
between sackcloth and ashes and the livery of sin. 
The beatified penitents of the early Christian Church 
spoke another lesson ; spoke divinely of hope for the 
fallen, hope without self-abasement or defiance. We, 
in these days, acknowledge no such saints : we have 
even done our best to dethrone Mary Magdalene ; but 
we have martyrs, — " by the pang without the palm," 
— and one at least among these who has not died with- 
out lifting up a voice of eloquent and solemn warning ; 
who has borne her palm on earth, and whose starry 
crown may be seen on high, even now, amid the con- 
stellations of Geni73. 


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