Tuesday, June 3
New Liturgical Line Art by Matthew Alderman
Our Lady, Queen of the Apostles, with an Attendant Angel (version I). Commissioned for the announcement of the entry of a young lady into the convent of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles. 4" x 6", Ink on Vellum, pieced together in Photoshop. April-May 2008. Artist's Collection.
There is not much of a fixed iconography built up around the Virgin as Queen of Apostles, besides an association with Pentecost. One seventeenth-century treatise cataloging her various titles and emblems shows a curious image in which she is shown twice--first on clouds, above, encircled by an enormous hoop marked with the signs of the Zodiac, and accompanied by an angel bearing a crown, and below, with the apostles at Pentecost. Another, more modern emblem consisted of a large closed royal crown surrounded by twelve tongues of flame.
Originally, I had intended to show Our Lady richly dressed, and crowned with an enormous diadem, surrounded by the twelve shields of the Apostles. It then occurred to me that while in images of her as Queen of Heaven and Empress of the Universe she should be shown dressed as splendidly as possible, the beatific poverty of the Apostles suggested she should be far more simply dressed, with the elaborate falling folds of drapery being all she needed to manifest her simple beauty in this particular instance.
Her hair modestly covered by her plain hood, and the only touches of ornament at her throat and wrists. The Virgin's hair is not, as it might appear at first glance, bobbed, but pinned up behind her head in the manner of Abbot Thayer's numerous allegorical females. Likewise, she does not wear her crown, but is accompanied by an angel bearing it; the diadem is topped by a cross holding a very small image of Christ enthroned in its center, and one of the four plaques on the rim contains one of the four zoomorphic emblems of the Evangelists. The flame of the Holy Ghost, her eternal spouse, hovers over her head, and appears again enclosed within her brooch. The arrangement of the Apostles' emblems is in itself symbolic, with Peter and Paul--who frequently replaces Matthias--on Our Lady's right, and the other ten on the other side, with John singled out as the only non-martyr. The "P" in APOSTOLORUM below also does double-duty as a Chi-Rho, the combined monogram of the first two letters of "Christ" in Greek.
This drawing was pieced together on Photoshop from two other drawings, after I discovered the dark reddish-brown backdrop for the Apostles' shields did not register very well in a JPG; but all the drawing is done by hand, and is original.
UPDATE, AND A NOTE ON DEBT RELIEF FOR NOVICES: The young lady who commissioned this work--on the occasion of her entrance into the splendid Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, has a few extra comments over at her blog, including an iconographic key to the Apostles' emblems. Incidentally, like a number of other young ladies seeking entry into the convent, she is faced with the Sisyphean task of paying off her various college debts, a problem that is more common these days than one would suppose, for better or worse. (I've met one other young woman with similar problems in the same year: The age of dowries, albeit inadvertent ones, is not over.) Perhaps some of our learned readers can help her out in this worthy cause? Every little bit helps.