Some weeks my Quick Takes fit neatly into a theme (like last week’s icon quick takes), but other weeks, like the post you’re reading now, there’s no unifying subject, just a collection of links that I found interesting:
The famous medieval cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris has been stuck with inferior bells for the most recent few centuries, but no longer bears this burden. In time for her 850th birthday this year the cathedral has received lovely new bells:
Despite its glamour and celebrity, Notre Dame has been saddled with inferior bells since the French Revolution took down the cathedral’s 20 bells in 1791 and 1792, melted 19 of them down to make cannon. Only one survived the Terror: Emmanuel, the great 13-ton bourdon (the lowest and largest of the bells) in the South Tower.
Emmanuel is considered one of the greatest bells in Europe, but … the four bells Napoleon III had made and installed in the North Tower in 1856 to commemorate the baptism of his son and replace the ones lost during the Revolution, were considered some of the worst.
The new bells, made using medieval methods like pouring bronze into clay, horse manure and horsehair moulds, are the same weight and diameter as ones destroyed in the Revolution. They ring the same notes but in a lower tone. The idea is to recreate the richness and harmonies of the pre-Revolutionary sound without slavish imitation. The eight smaller bells made by Cornille-Havard are named Gabriel (after the archangel), Anne-Geneviève (after the mother of Mary and Saint Geneviève, patron saint of Paris), Denis (after the saint, first bishop of Paris), Marcel (after the saint, ninth bishop of Paris), Étienne (after the first cathedral church of Paris which was named after Saint Steven, the first martyr), Benoît-Joseph (after recently retired Pope Benedict XVI) Maurice (after the bishop of Paris who laid the cornerstone of Notre Dame in 1163) and Jean-Marie (after Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, archbishop of Paris from 1981 to 2005). They have all been installed in the North Tower.
The ninth and largest bell was made by the Royal Eijsbouts Bell Foundry in The Netherlands. Named Marie after the mother of Jesus and its predecessor, the second largest of Notre Dame’s bells which rang low and proud from 1378 to 1792, this bell has been hung next to Emmanuel in the South Tower. - source
Here’s a video from Palm Sunday 2013 that shows the ringing of the new bells. The video is long; starting at 58:12 you can hear the bells all ringing together, first Emmanuel, then Marie, then the other 8 smaller bells:
The National Gallery of Art, London’s youtube playlist “Paintings in Focus” has some fascinating videos about paintings in the Museum’s collection. The videos range from 1 to 5 minutes in length.
- Elevation of the Eucharist, detail from the Della Rovere Missal
Italy, Rome, ca. 1485–90. source
The Morgan Library & Museum in New York has an extensive collection of illuminated medieval manuscripts, and is well worth a visit if you’re in Manhattan, especially this summer, because the museum is hosting an exhibit “Illuminating Faith: The Eucharist in Medieval Life and Art,” May 17 through September 2, 2013:
For medieval Christians, the Eucharist (the sacrament of Communion) was not only at the heart of the Mass—but its presence and symbolism also wielded enormous influence over cultural and civic life. Featuring more than sixty-five exquisitely illuminated manuscripts, Illuminating Faith offers glimpses into medieval culture, and explores the ways in which artists of the period depicted the celebration of the sacrament and its powerful hold on society.
The exhibition presents some of the Morgan’s finest works, including the Hours of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, one of the greatest of all Books of Hours; the exquisite Preparation for Mass of Pope Leo X, which remained at the Vatican until it was looted by Napoleon’s troops in 1798; a private prayer book commissioned by Anne de Bretagne, queen of France, for her son the dauphin, Charles-Orland; and a number of rarely-exhibited Missals. Also on display will be objects used in medieval Eucharistic rituals, such as a chalice, ciborium, pax, altar card, and monstrances. - source
There will not be an exhibition catalog for this show, unfortunately.
David Clayton, an icon painter, author, artist in residence and lecturer in the liberal arts at Thomas More College in New Hampshire, has written a post on his blog called "Franciscan Liturgical Art; an inspiration for rebuilding the church today." He uses as his examples the art found in the Basilicas of St. Francis in Assisi Italy:
If we look at the interiors of the churches, for example, notice how much is adorned with geometric patterned art. This suggests to me an deep awareness of the sources of the symbolism that generates such geometry, predominantly scripture and the cosmos. One of the commonly held ideas of Franciscan spirituality is that of an interest in and love of the beauty of the natural world that St Francis inspired. Whatever the truth of this, I would say that as a general principle one could not create such ‘cosmic’ art unless one was able to read the cosmos symbolically and had a deep understanding of how that symbolism and the beauty of the cosmos points us to something greater, to the rhythms of the heavenly liturgy and ultimately to God. - source
Sacred Stitches - an exhibit of ecclesiastical textiles from the Rothschild collection - is on display at Waddesdon Manor, in England. A book (pictured above) on the subject has been published:
Sacred Stitches [book] accompanies an exhibition that will assemble together for the first time fragments of opulent and unique ecclesiastical textiles drawn from the stored collections at Waddesdon Manor, the astonishing Renaissance-style château that is one of the rare survivors of the splendour of the ‘goût Rothschild’. Dating from c. 1400 to the late 1700s, the textiles were acquired by several members of the Rothschild family, the greatest collectors of the 19th century, who sought the highest quality of workmanship with a keen sense of historical importance.
Here’s an article about the growing trend in Turkey to turn or return historic churches into mosques, covering the centuries-old Christian art in the process.
For those of you who have an iPhone or iPad, there’s a new app, Art/y/fact.xn (pronounced “Artifact, Christian”), for exploring the connection between religion and art. The app was developed by Dr. Eileen Daily, Program Director of the Master of Arts in Religious Education at the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University Chicago. Here’s the app’s description:
art/y/fact.Xn is a tool for interpreting and meditating with Christian art. What is the difference between one painting of the Crucifixion and another? Users will be able to figure this out for themselves with the aid of this app. Christian artworks are found in museums, churches, books, magazines and web sites but often users are at a loss to understand the rich meanings of these works. The app offers interpretive tools for artworks about Jesus, Mary, other figures and stories from the Bible, Saints, Angels and Demons. The 100+ articles about themes common in Christian art include Basic Info, a list of What to Look For, and questions that guide General, Personal, and Historical Interpretations of the artworks. In addition, the app provides tools from the worlds of art, history, and theology to help the user dig deeper into the meaning of an artwork. Because a user sometimes wants an inner experience of Christian art, the app also contains six audio meditations. The user selects an artwork to meditate with, plugs in their earbuds, and chooses a meditation that connects to their experience of the artwork chosen. The app is for Christians and anyone else who wants a richer experience of Medieval, Rennaissance, and Baroque art, or the Christian art of any other period. - source
Jen of Conversion Diary hosts Quick Takes Friday each week; head over to her post to see Quick Takes from bloggers near and far.