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One wouldn’t necessarily expect to find The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) Maastricht to be bursting at the seams with faith. If the art auction and fair worships at any altar, it would be Mammon’s rather than Apollo’s. The notion that a camel has a better chance of crawling through the eye of a needle than a rich man does of setting up shop in heaven couldn’t be further from the culture of TEFAF, whose press releases talk of 170 private jets descending on the Maastricht airport and about 65,000 tulips adorning the halls of the convention center.
The scenery one sees as one nears the end of the two hour drive from Amsterdam to Maastricht, a historic city located in the southern most tip of the Netherlands, doesn’t necessarily inspire one to anticipate great art. One enters Maastricht on a highway flanked by an industrial skyline panorama of smokestacks and warehouses. But as one gets closer to the city center, one encounters a much more picturesque vision of medieval battlements and the dominating presence of the Meuse river.
At the fair which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, and wholesale jerseys which ran from March 16 to March 25 more than 250 dealers from nearly 20 countries sell their wares, which span from Greek and Roman antiquities to contemporary sculptures. Calvin Klein was among the collectors at the fair, which draws museum acquisitions staff and other purchasers with deep pockets. One early sale, for example, was a Peter Paul Rubens Crucifixion, which had an asking price of 3.5 million (Bernheimer Fine Old Masters).
But whatever the odds, there was a lot to be said about religion and religious art at TEFAF. In virtually ever section of the fair paintings, antiques, modern, manuscripts, classical antiquities, design, works on paper and jewelry there were at least dozens of examples of fascinating works with religious content and themes (and, to be fair, many not so interesting works). Here are three noteworthy trends:
1. Obscure Old Testament Scenes Galore
In the set of biblical paintings, New Testament scenes tend to overwhelmingly dominate Old Testament depictions, and even in the relatively small set of scenes from the Jewish Bible, some biblical episodes are rarely portrayed. The scene that Matthias Stomer renders in his painting Sarai Offering Hagar to Abram (Galerie Sanct Lucas) is based on Genesis 16.
Sarah (then named Sarai) realizes that she’s barren, so she somehow musters the courage to offer her husband, Abraham, her handmaiden Hagar as a second wife. It’s an awkward scene to be sure, and it’s no surprise that artists have latched onto other scenes from the chapter, including Sarai dismissing Hagar and Ishmael, Hagar’s isolation in the desert with Ishmael, and Hagar’s conversation with the angel.
Half a century or so later, the Dutch painter Adriaen van der Werff would render the same scene with a voluptuous and nude Hagar sitting on a bed beside Abraham, who is young and muscular. But there seem to be very few versions of the work before Stomer tackled it. And Stomer’s choice to depict Abraham as the old man he was 86 according to Genesis 16:16 stands in sharp contrast to the decision van der Werff would make.
It’s hard not to imagine a wealthy old man with an attractive girlfriend who looks old enough to be his daughter (or granddaughter) when one studies Stomer’s painting. Sarai looks to be of Abraham’s generation, and her modest attire is intentionally juxtaposed with Hagar’s exposed cleavage. It’s far easier to read Genesis 16:16 and to gloss over the words, but it’s difficult not to be troubled by the view that Stomer presents.
Other notable mentions in the Old Testament art department are Domenico Gargiulo’s The Gathering of the Manna (Galleria Silvano Lodi Due), another rarely depicted scene, and a particularly dramatic Judgement of Solomon (by Gaetano Gandolfi, at Jean Franois Heim). A discovery of Moses by Nicolas Colombel (c. 1680 90) at Richard Feigen Co. depicts a most un Egyptian Egypt (complete with a a decidedly un biblical reclining river god), and two Delftware dishes (one with Adam and Eve, and the other a sacrifice of Isaac) at Aronson Antiquairs are particularly gorgeous. And Galerie Eric Coatalem’s seven part series on the biblical Esther and Mordecai (Histoire d’Esther) by Jean Franois de Troy alone was worth the trip.
2. Biblical Hebrew Is Anything But A Dead Language
Not only did Old Testament scenes show up in a big way at TEFAF, but Hebrew inscriptions could be found in several of the booths. A silver supremacy medal for Henry VIII at Nomos contains Hebrew, Greek and Latin inscriptions, which basically declare the king portrayed on the front of the medal wearing what appears to be the Order of the Golden Fleece the « supreme head of the Church of England and Ireland. »
Henry VIII needed all the help in this regard as he could get, as he was trying to justify his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, and subsequent marriage to Anne Boleyn.
A close inspection of the Hebrew inscription reveals some pseudo Hebraic words and the prominence of the word Messiah, but, as Richard Bishop observes in a Hebraica Veritas essay on the subject, the Hebrew was an attempt to marshal Old Testament legitimacy for his controversial divorce.
« No doubt Henry greatly approved of this medal. The message was loud and clear. His title ‘Supreme Head’ spelt out in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, proclaimed to the world that the combined learning of all traditions, Hebraic, Greek and Roman, the Old and the New Testaments, all supported his claim to be God’s appointed Head of the Church, » Bishop writes.
Another medal with Hebrew inscriptions appears in the Tradart booth, this one a bronze plate commemorating the inauguration of Frankfurt’s synagogue. The Hebrew inscription, « house of prayer of the upright » (depending on how one translates Yeshurun), appears above a sun setting (or rising) over the Frankfurt synagogue. Some of the floral details adorning the arch over the Hebrew inscription and along the sides of the plate resemble the shape of the Hebrew letter Shin, the first letter of one of the divine names. And beneath the synagogue representation, another Hebrew inscription offers the Hebrew date of the inauguration.
Two other pieces merit attention: a 1699 Sephardic Jewish prayer book from Venice (yours for 42,000) at Kunstzalen A. Vecht, with a silver cover by Atonio Poma, and another Tradart masterpiece, an 1806 bronze medal depicting Napoleon I holding the 10 Commandments. The personification of the Jewish community (portrayed as Michelangelo’s Moses with horns) bows at Napoleon’s feet, signifying his/its appreciation of the emancipation (relatively speaking) of the Jews in the French empire.
3. Whatever Happened To Islam?
If TEFAF can be applauded for its comprehensive showcase of Christian art, and it’s surprising attention to Jewish art, it comes up very short in the third Abrahamic faith. Although some booths notably Gregg Baker Asian Art, Marcel Nies Oriental Art, Vanderven Vanderven Oriental Art and Jacqueline Simcox showed stunning Buddhist and Hindu art, an inspection of every booth didn’t turn up a single work of Islamic art.
A search of the TEFAF catalog for the terms « Islam, » « Muslim » and « Islamic » yields no results. One dealer, Sam Fogg, has a focus on Islamic art, but the gallery didn’t respond to interview requests. The closest pieces (which are far afield indeed) are a watch with « Islamic » numerals made for the Turkish market (Somlo Antiques) and another watch at Crijns Stender with Arabic numerals.
Excuse the pun, but it’s high time for a major art fair like TEFAF to show more Islamic art than a couple of watches. This article originally appeared on the website of the Houston Chronicle.DOROTHY ANN PHILLIPS Our beloved Mother, Grand mother, Great grand mother, Sister, Aunt, Cousin, and Friend walked through the Gates of Heaven on June 10, 2013, into the arms of Jesus Christ, as well as the love of her life, her husband of 55 years, Howard William Phillips. Dorothy was born in Mason City, Iowa on May 23, 1933 to Bernard Harry and Doris Audrey Pixley. When Dorothy was three years old, she and her family moved to Alhambra, California where she resided until she boarded the SS Lurline for a visit to Honolulu in 1954. That visit developed in to a love affair with the islands and the decision to make Hawaii her home for the next 59 years. Dorothy was predeceased by her Husband, retired Hawaiian Airlines Pilot, Captain Howard W. Phillips, son, Patrick William Phillips, parents, Bernard H and Doris A. Pixley, and sister, Shirley Jean Bonham. She is survived by her children Roy Edward Phillips II (Betsy), Cynthia Ann Seminara (Thomas), Sandra Dee Willand (Michael), Paul Bernard Phillips (Lia), Doris Leilani Zirbes (Christopher), Step Daughter Sharon Kay Marich (Milan), 16 Grandchildren, 9 Great grand children, brother Bernard Pixley, sister Ruth Lowrey, and cousin Marion Dearmin. A celebration of her life will be held at Ohana Baptist Church 2879 Paa Street, on July 2, 2013, with a visitation at 4:30 pm and a service to follow at 5:30 pm. Being the cheerful person she was, it is requested that you honor her spirit by including her favorite colors of blue or green in your attire. LAU Age 96, of Honolulu, Hawaii, passed away June 3, 2013 at Convalescent Care Center of Honolulu. Born November 6, 1916 in Honolulu, Hawaii. She is survived by sons, Chester (Evelyn) Ching, Clayton (Aimee) Ching; daughter, Carolyn Balanay; sisters, Lilie Bessette, Florence Carpenter, Clara Awana, Edelene Yee; 3 grandchildren; 2 great grand children. Casual Attire.Is Pete Carroll A 9/11 Truther?S
Is Seahawks coach Pete Carroll a 9/11 truther? That all depends: Does badgering a former four star general about whether 9/11 was real make one a truther?
Here’s what happened, according to a couple sources: Late last spring, retired general Peter Chiarelli, who had just finished his term as the Army’s vice chief of staff, visited Carroll at the Seattle Seahawks headquarters. Chiarelli was expecting a pleasant meeting. After all, the pair had what important businesspeople tend to call synergies: Chiarelli who grew up in Seattle is a big Seahawks fan. His post military work concerns traumatic brain injury research, a cause of some significance to the NFL. And both have plenty of experience leading groups of men on grand American stages.
The sit down between Chiarelli and Carroll started off normally enough. They talked about the team, and then about head trauma. Chiarelli, who commanded the American forces in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom II, talked about the brain injuries he had seen there. But Chiarelli’s mention of Iraq sent Carroll in another direction: He wanted to know if the September 11 attacks had been planned or faked by the United States government.
In particular, Carroll wanted to know whether the attack on the Pentagon had really happened. Chiarelli who was the top ranking Army official inside the Pentagon when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into its western side explained that it had. He said he had lost many colleagues. But Carroll didn’t stop there. He ran through the whole 9/11 truther litany.
« Every 9/11 conspiracy theory you can think of, Pete asked wholesale nfl jerseys about, » said Riki Ellison, the former NFL linebacker who now runs the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance and introduced Carroll to Chiarelli. Ellison, along with Seahawks offensive line coach Pat Ruel, was at the meeting as well. « And he didn’t stop at 9/11 he had lots of questions about the role of the military today. » (Carroll does seem to have some fondness for the military. He lectured at a military sponsored « conference on small unit excellence » in 2009, and last year Ellison connected him with Army soldiers at Camp Carroll in Korea.)
Carroll isn’t crazy, Ellison said. He’s just skeptical. « Pete grew up in California during Vietnam, and during Watergate. That’s just the perspective he brings to the table. »
So did the discussion last year turn hostile? A source close to Chiarelli, one who wasn’t present when he spoke to Carroll, told us that it did. He said the general had to leave the room because Carroll had rankled him so thoroughly. Ellison told us that that wasn’t true, that the discussion had remained friendly and « fun » throughout. A spokesman for Chiarelli at his foundation, One Mind for Research, did not respond to repeated phone and email requests.
Ellison said Carroll did only what anyone else would do: « Pete had a four star general in the room, one of the army’s top guys. Why wouldn’t you push the envelope? »
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