Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Day at the Gallery

A very special exhibit is in its final days at the National Gallery of Art here in DC. The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture, 1600–1700 will be on display until the end of the month. If you're in town, it's worth stopping by.

My favorite work (and it was a close call) had to be The Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, a gilded wood piece attributed to Juan Martinez Montañés (1568–1649) and an unknown painter. Dated about 1628, it is from the Church of the Anunciación, Seville University. Measuring just under 4 feet, 7 inches tall, this life-size carving is most exquisite, as can be seen in the painted detail of the robe. (Click on the image. You'll thank me later.) The depiction here barely does it justice.

Mary Eberstadt writes for The Catholic Thing:

Here a bleeding, suffering Christ stretches tautly on the Cross, staring both piteously and pitiably at the penitent near his feet. There a dewy yet tormented Mary Magdalen, her dazzling soiled skin wrapped roughly in a penitent’s coat of rushes, hunches in sorrow over a crucifix. A statue of Saint Ignatius Loyola looms so lifelike and animated that a recitation of his Exercises seems a strong possibility. Many more shocks await ...

Check the slideshow at the Gallery website. The instrumental track included makes for a stunning presentation.

There are also some lovely Italian sacred works on regular display there from the early Italian schools of Duccio and the like. This guy obviously couldn't get enough of them. They kept a tight watch on camera phones in the special exhibit, but I considered the irony of a guard coming over to me, and telling me I couldn't take a photo of this guy taking a photo. Or something.

I spent the day with Father Erik Richtsteig of the Diocese of Salt Lake City, and author of the blog Orthometer, as well as Katrina "The Crescat" Fernandez from North Carolina, author of that blog that's SOOOO much more popular than this one. She was staying with one of her gal pals, and had a few kids along. Hopefully they went to Chinatown afterwords to tear the place apart. Those kids could use a little excitement after a day in the museum. The adults, not so much.

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