Friday, October 15


Lydia Purpuraria

Matthew Alderman. S. Lydia the Dealer in Purple Cloth. June 2010. Private Collection, New Hampshire. More work by the artist here.

St. Lydia was the first Christian to be baptized in Europe, at Philippi by the Apostle Paul; the Greek landscape is visible at beneath her feet while the Apostle Paul hovers in the distance. In one hand is the murex shell, the source of her livelihood, purple dye, and by extension a symbol of royalty and Christ the King, and also, through its marine origins, baptism and regeneration. The waves in the upper left-hand corner also recall baptism, and the strip of half-dyed cloth in her right hand recall the imagery of white robes washed in the blood of the Lamb. St. Paul's book and sword decorate the hem of her robe, while Christ the Man of Sorrows, clad in His purple robe, decorates the clasps at her shoulder. The client (who has also commissioned work from me in the past), a New England lawyer, ND law grad and new mother, commissioned this to celebrate the birth of her first child, also named Lydia. She says she wants it to be hanging in the girl's dorm room 18 years from now when she matriculates at Notre Dame.

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