The Holy Spirit Descending on Mary and the Apostles is part of an "Opus" of 14 that I am completing in slow stages with no end date in sight.
My first attempt
What you see here is a partial view of a very large "sketch" completed in egg tempera on claybard with some shading and accents, but still very flat overall with corrections still needed. The bord measures 24 x 42 inches total.
Working on a piece like this, from scratch, has been a challenge. It is not based on a copy of another and required that I review, in detail, the stories and characters involved before proceeding. A 2nd Resurrection scene completed HERE.
Since Biblical accounts vary, I had to decide early on, what would be emphasized and what could be set aside (visually speaking), as a painted scene like this can become too "wordy".
Although I have referenced dozens and dozens of prototypes from the past,
(see here) my characters are not direct copies of any of them and I have not used photographed models. The "set-up" doesn't follow the rule of 100% perspective. This is just a test and I might very well head in a completely new direction to complete all 14.
Apostle faces link
The Outpouring of the Spirit
by Sandra Bowden
Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives….When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying…. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. Acts 1:12-14
Today the church tends to depict Pentecost with abstract forms—intense colors of red and orange, perhaps cascading from the ceiling of the church or painted as swirling forces to suggest the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
Historically the church has pictured the scene as a assembly of people clustered in a small room with flames of fire over each head, with Mary, the mother of Jesus, positioned in the center of the gathering, usually in a posture of prayer. Even though the New Testament clearly states that Mary was present at Pentecost, most people are surprised to discover her in depictions of the event.
This 1626 wood engraving by the Flemish artist, Pieter van der Borcht II (1545 – 1608), is a fragment from a Missale (liturgical book with text for worship) and clearly fits this established tradition. It was inserted into the Missale to help the viewer visualize the scene and encourage greater devotion. The artist carefully used perspective to give a sense of space and has skillfully drawn each participant to display emotion and movement.
Van der Borcht has chosen to envision the very moment the Holy Spirit appeared. Light encircles the dove as rays stretch out in all directions with flames of fire emanating from its presence. While most of the apostles have their heads looking upward to the dove hovering near the top of the ceiling, there is a wide array of facial expressions and gestures. Many appear amazed, one older apostle in the middle raises his hands in praise, while in the foreground one disciple still has his hands folded in prayer. Mary is positioned in the center of the scene in a posture of prayer.
What led the church to emphasize her presence at this important event that is considered the birth of the church?
According to the Book of Acts, the apostles, with Mary and the other women, gathered with one mind in prayer to await the outpouring of the Paraclete. We see Mary as she prays imploring the gift of the Holy Spirit. Mary had a unique perspective of what was to happen. At the Annunciation the Holy Spirit had descended, overshadowing her, to bring about the Incarnation. Having had an encounter with the Holy Spirit she would have understood its significance and ardently longed for its presence in Jesus’ followers.
As we gather to celebrate Pentecost this Sunday, may we await with the same expectation as the Apostles and Mary, the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
Notes, Art, Photography CMJENTZ ©2013-2018
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