Thursday, February 11


Our Lady of Lourdes

Matthew Alderman.
Our Lady of Lourdes, the Immaculate Conception. Ink, with digital additions. January 2008. Private Collection, New York City.

I did this some years ago as a late Christmas gift for a friend with a deep devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes. I later discovered, weeks after I had given the gift, I had given Our Lady thirteen stars rather than her traditional twelve. When I was approached by a client asking to use this image in advertisements for masses on Our Lady of Lourdes' feast day, I cleaned it up a little using Photoshop and corrected the offending detail. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond both our control, another, older image was used instead, but it provided a good opportunity to revise this image, one of my favorites--the Immaculate Conception surrounded by the votive tapers of her grotto shrine.

Our Lady of Lourdes is, along with the Sacred Heart, an image well-known to Catholics, and often due to its sheer repeatability comes dangerously close to a cliché, aided by the crude quality of many of her statues and holy cards. (It is interesting to note that other older images like Our Lady of Perpetual Help, however many times copied, seem immune to this iconography fatigue, for a number of reasons. That being said, the standard 19th century image of Our Lady of Lourdes is usually much better than the simpering Sacred Hearts that came out of the period.) It is interesting to note St. Bernadette never particularly liked the official images that came out of Lourdes. I am by no means saying this image is more accurate, but it does show that some range is possible within the framework of the traditional imagery surrounding the apparition. Later today or tomorrow I hope to post an image by the great Irish illustrator Harry Clarke, which partially inspired this drawing, to give another take on Our Lady of Lourdes different in style but not content from the conventional depictions of the event.

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