Local Heart, Global Soul

May 25, 2013

The Artform of Longevity…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The next parts of  Sint-Romboutskathedraal (St. Rumbold’s Cathedral) in Mechelen, Belgium to catch my attention are the details of a crypt,  the main altar area, a fixture that I assume might be a confessional, beautiful candelabra  candle lamp and several massive triptych paintings.

I have no idea who the man is who is buried in this black ornamented tomb, (possibly someone of more modern times?) but the book at the end of it is striking for it’s bold single branch motif, timeless in it’s simplicity and design.

The altar is located in the Chancel section of the cathedral. Unfortunately renovations in this area meant that getting closer for more detailed photographs was an impossibility so I put my zoom lens to work to capture what I could.

Information boards tell me that the triptych paintings are done by Jan Snellinck (1544-1638) and Michiel Coxcie (1499-1592) respectively and to be honest what grabbed my attention even more than these enormous paintings, was the fact that  each of these artists had an amazing long lifespan: 94 and 93 years of age respectively.

We tend to think that most people in the Middle Ages had an exceptionally short lifespan by today’s standards, but here are two artists with paintings in the same cathedral and each well past 90 years of age… was longevity underreported in those days? or were perhaps these gentlemen blessed by good genes, luck and a less hazardous occupation than most? (artists in general usually did not age well in historical times because paints often contained toxic chemicals such as cadmium, lead, mercury and sulfides). Luckily these men appear to be exceptions…

Jan Snellinck (1544-1638)  Triptych “Christ resurrected, with St. Peter and St. Paul”(oil on wood, 1601) Side panels: “Annunciation to the Holy Virgin” and “ Nativity surrounded by angels with tools of torture”. Painted for the Merchants Guild.

Michiel Coxcie (1499-1592) Triptych “The Martyrdom of Saint George” (oil on wood, 1588).Side panels: “The trial of Saint George”and “The Beheading of Saint George”. Painting for the old Crossbowman’s Guild”. Back in the South Aisle there is a candelabra  with detailed fretwork and the wood carvings of the choir are also ornate.

There’s a place that I think must be the confessional… where I note that the space where the parishioner sits appears to be considerably less comfortable and private than the space of the priest. Double punishment for the sinners?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

6 Comments »

  1. Those triptychs – wow wow wow!

    Comment by The Laughing Housewife — May 25, 2013 @ 7:02 am | Reply

    • Tilly, I know!… there’s SO much there in the Cathedral that is “stop-you-in-your-tracks” stunning ! The only two problems are (a) where to start and (b) too little time 🙂

      Comment by kiwidutch — May 25, 2013 @ 9:24 am | Reply

  2. That middle shot — the longview of the altar — is really something, Kiwidutch. It really gives a sense of the “awesomeness” (in its true meaning) of this place.

    Comment by Luddy's Lens — May 29, 2013 @ 11:33 am | Reply

  3. Long lives were much more common in the Middle Ages (and before) than we tend to think. What skews the average is that infant death was so much higher…

    Comment by Carrie — May 31, 2013 @ 3:34 am | Reply


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