Art has an extraordinary power to inspire us and of course, religious themes have been an extraordinary inspiration for artists down the centuries.
In Tate Britain there is a remarkable collection of pictures with a religious theme. Two very different, I like particularly. They are very different. J. F. Millais’ “Christ In The Home Of His Parents” is drawn meticulously. Every detail perfect down to the drop of blood on the wounded child’s hand falling on the foot to portend future trials. For me the very detail of this picture is analogous to those who view religion through what they see as the certainties of scripture.
But many people turn away from this approach.
Faith can or should just as easily be represented by JMW Turner’s “Christ and The Woman of Samaria”. Here everything is in a whirl, indistinctly drawn with atmospheric clouds signifying our own doubts. But the message is no less powerful.
We can not see every detail. We have to assume it.
Just as we have to assume a lot about the Angel Gabriel. But just because something cannot be proved and has to be assumed does not necessarily mean it is wrong.
Mary and I also went to a preview show in the Rosetti Studios, by Susie Bacon, of her bronze statues. I found this lovely text from Ovid about Philemon and Baucis accompanying her statues of the pair.
We ask to be your priests and guard your shrine
And since in concord we have spent our years
Grant that the selfsame hour may take us both
That I my consorts tomb may never see
Nor may it fall to her to bury me.
I don’t think I have ever read anything so moving!