Sunday, July 7, 2013

Faces at the Cluny...


Wow!  The “Cluny Museum” (it also goes by its new name, the Musée national du Moyen Âge, but the taxi driver knows it as “The Cluny") is the largest museum of Medieval art in Europe.  While its a bit dusty, it has some real gems.  I’d like to offer this post on some beautiful faces in the collection.

Recall, if you will, that the twelfth to thirteenth century witnesses the emergence of a sense of the person and personality in Christian art.  Giotto’s famous characters, each looking like us and our next door neighbor, are among the first examples (Giotto died around 1337).  Here are some examples that follow on the master’s pioneering work:

While this head of Christ crucified is fragmentary and in poor condition, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more moving portrayal of the Lord as he offers the great sacrifice of love for our salvation.

This is getting more into the Renaissance, but has there ever been a happier mother and child?

What a beautiful depiction of Our Lady of Sorrows!

Here Saint Martin of Tours looks with pity on the poor man, and just before he gives him his cloak his face demonstrates a remarkable sadness.

The typical wry grin on the face of the Virgin can be found in many Romanesque statues, but the gentle smile on the face of Jesus is a real delight here!


Poor old Zachariah can barely keep his eyes open, but what is left of them is filled with light and joy, while the Christ child gazes at him with a wisdom and love beyond his years.

This is Saint Grgeory the Great celebrating Mass.  Look at the devotion as he gazes up to Christ and the look of the kneeling deacon as he looks with wonder at the Pope’s devotion.

Three faces: Judas in wrapt betrayal, Christ, whose eyes exhibit the pain of betrayal, and the curious onlooker to the left who stares at Jesus, looking for a reaction.

So many other great pieces, but I’ll conclude with this Christ on a donkey to be pulled along during the Palm Sunday Procession.  What a great idea!!!