Re: Re: reordering and destruction of irish cathedrals – St Colmans Cathedral, Cobh

Home Forums Ireland reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches Re: Re: reordering and destruction of irish cathedrals – St Colmans Cathedral, Cobh


The dominant influence on iconography in the 17th entury Seville school was Francisco Pacheo (1564.-1654), the father in law of Velasquez. In 1649, he published a definitive treatise on painting, El Arte de la Pintura. His comments on the painting on the Immaculate Conception are the direct source of the sculpted group in the arcade of the attic of the South Transept of Cobh Cathedral. The following are his comments on the painting of the subject: “Some say that (the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady) should be painted with the image of the Christ Child in her arms because she appears thus on some old images that have been found. The opinion is probably based ( as the learned Jesuit Father Alonso de Flores has pointed out) on the fact that Our Lady enjoyed freedom from Original Sin from the very first moment, since she was the Mother of God, even though she had not yet concieved Jesus Christ. Hence from this moment (as the saints know) she was the Mother of God, nor did she ever cease to be. But without taking issue with those who paint the Child in her arms, we side with the majority who paint her without the Child.

This painting, as scholars know, is derived from the mysterious woman whom St.John saw in the sky wiith all her attributes [Revelations XII,1-4]. Therefore, the version I follow is the one that is closest to the holy revelation of the Evangelist and approved by the Catholic Church on the authority of the sacred and holy interpreters. In Revelation she is not only found without the Child in her arms, but even before she ever bore him….We paint her with the Child only in those scenes that occur afer she conceived…

In this loveliest of mysteries Our Lady should be painted as a beautiful young girl, twelve or thirteen years old, in the flower of her youth. She should have pretty but serious eyes with perfect features and rosy cheeks, and the most beautiful long golden locks. In short, she should be as beautiful as a painter’s brush can make her. There are two kinds of human beauty, beauty of the body and beauty of the soul, and the Virgin had both of them in the extreme because her body was a miracolous creation. She resembled her Son, the model of all perfection, more than any other human being. ,,and thus she is praised by her Spouse: tota pulchra es amica mea, a text that is always written in this painting.

She should be painted wearing a white tunic and a blue mantle…She is surrounded by the sun, an oval sun of white and ochre, which sweetly blends into the sky. Rays of light emanate from her head, around which is a ring of twelve stars. An imperial crown adrons her head without, however, hiding the stars. Undr her feet is the moon. Although it is a solid globe, I take the liberty of making it transparent so that the landscape shows through. The upper part is darkened to form a crescent moon with the points turned downward. Unless I am mistaken, I believe I was the first to impart greater majesty to these attributes, and others have followed me.

Especially with the moon I have followed the learned opinion of Father Luis del Alcazar, famous son of Seville, who says: ‘Painters usually show the crescent moon upside down at the feet of this woman. But as is obvious to learned mathematicians, if the moon and sun face each other, both points of the moon have to point downward. Thus the woman will stand on a convex instead of a concave surface…’. This is necessary so that the moon, receiving its light from the sun, will illuminate the woman standing on it….

In the upper part of the painting one usually puts God the Father or the Holy Spirit or both, together with the already mentioned words of her Spouse. The earthly attributes are placed suitably in the landscape; the heavenly attributes can be placed, as you wish, among the clouds. Seraphim or angels can also hold some of the attributes. It slipped my mind completely to mention the dragon, our common enemy, whose head the Virgin broke when she triumphed over original sin. In fact I always forget him, because the truth is that I never willingly paint him, and omit him whenever I can in order not to embarrass my picture with his presence. But painters are free to improve on everything I have said”.

Given what has been laid bare about Irish church architecture in this thread over the past while, I am a astounded by the fact the one of Bartolome Esteban Murillo’s major patrons was an Irish man, from Dublin: Fra Francisco Gough y Fletcher Morgan Cabeza de Vaca! Murillo was one of the greatest devotional painters of all times, especially in his later years when he produced ingratiating compositions that inspire gentle, pious feelings. His pictures are unendumbered by recondite allegorical allusions or references. They are easily accessible and comprehended. ,

Bartolome Esteban Murillo’s versions of 1678, 1665, 1645, del Prado,.

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