Two Paintings, Two Mentalities, Two Doctrines

September 22, 2014

Written by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Georges Rouault: "Miserere", Plate LVI and with this caption: "In these dark times of vainglory and unbelief, Our Lady of the Ends of the Earth keeps watch."

Drawing by Georges Rouault: “Miserere”, Plate LVI and titled: “In these dark times of vainglory and unbelief, Our Lady of the Ends of the Earth keeps watch.”

Indulge in an exercise of fantasy, and suppose that by rewinding the thread of bygone centuries it has become possible for you to return to the time of Christ and walk into a room of the Holy Family’s humble dwelling in Nazereth.

Imagine that you find the Virgin playing with the Child, and that both were just as Rouault depicted them in the painting on the upper right. Would such a sight fulfill your expectations? Would it correspond to what you might have hoped from the Mother of God and the Word Incarnate Himself? Would you find in those images the authentic expression of the Christian spirit and the ineffable virtues of Jesus and Mary?

Obviously not.

The center panel of The Moulins Triptych by the Master of Moulins 1498-1499.

The center panel of The Moulins Triptych by the Master of Moulins 1498-1499.

Therefore, whoever earnestly wants that Christian art worthily and duly reflect the spirit of the Gospel cannot be indifferent to paintings of this nature becoming widespread among the faithful. What kind of impression would people have of the Holy Family if nothing else were shown to them but paintings of this ilk? As far as it is able, Christian art has the role of an accessory to the spreading of sound doctrine. The spirit of this painting cannot be deemed proper for that end.

In order to illustrate these affirmations better, look at the painting by the Maitre de Moulins (fifteenth century), which also portrays the Virgin and Child, and consider how efficacious it is in helping us understand, through the senses, what the Church teaches about Jesus and Mary.

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  • Bruce

    These people (pseudo artists) do not have the Faith, whether they appear to profess it or not, and their "art" is blasphemous and an authentic expression of what they truly believe, which is nothing divine.

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