Friday, August 15, 2014

St. Thomas of Canterbury

I am always reading Jacobus de Voragine’s The Golden Legend, a compendium of Christian saints, their histories and apocrypha. This is a sketch that I’ve come up with for St. Thomas of Canterbury, also known as Thomas Becket. He suffered a pretty bad wounding to the head from King Henry’s men and is often depicted with a sword through his head. I’ve drawn from my love for anatomical illustration to show him with his brain exposed and holding a slice of his preserved brain. An abhorrence to nightingales is also ascribed to Becket, who is said to have been so disturbed in his devotions by the song of a nightingale that he commanded that none should sing in the town ever again. Here are some nailed to the wall of this study. As Thomas was chastising a priest for his excessive devotions and masses to the Virgin Mary, the Virgin appeared to the priest and told the priest that Thomas would find his hairshirt mended with red thread. Thomas had put the shirt under his bed to mend it later. Thomas found his hairshirt was indeed mended with red thread and he gave the priest dispensation to continue to honor the Virgin. Here you can see her through the window with her red thread.

I really enjoy cobbling together these scenes of the true and not so true. Hopping across the threshold of accuracy and apocrypha. When I finish one of these, more than my other works, I know that no one else could have made this particular composition with these particular images. I like to convey the impression that it was impossible to get to this image, and yet it exists, because I made it up.

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