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contriving pestilence and famine, together with other punishments for sin. In the second instance, this power was regarded as almost exclusively engaged in the conduct of wars and their accompanying political changes, while in both its agency was directed to the awakening of penitence, and not of gratitude. It was the Saints who bestowed peace and happiness, and to them mankind confided their griefs ; they were the tutelary divinities of every country, province, city, town, and the majority of Christians never looked beyond the sphere of their power. With the third change, we observe the diffusion of a nascent belief, as yet, however, undeveloped and vague, that, if the providence of God is to be regarded as present at all, it must be considered as universally present, and consequently that the blessings of life are to be ascribed to its operation in human affairs, as much as its misfortunes! It is hardly necessary to point out that this change of opinion indicates a progress from the semi-barbarous to the more civilized condition, and that its general acceptance affected the relations existing between Church and State profoundly. But neither then nor at any time before the Renaissance did art rise to the conception of an ideal of the Father, the creator and preserver of mankind. All that human power could effect in this direction was left by the grim irony of events to be accomplished by genius and not by devotion, to be produced during a revolutionary age and in the most irreligious country in Christendom.
From the first (and even during the iconoclastic era), the Son was a favorite subject with artists, and in iconography as well as in the rubric and in polemics He has always been the object of peculiar honor and interest. In the carvings of Roman sarcophagi, in Italian paintings and artistic remains, such as those of Aliscamps, Arles, Rheims, etc, the figure of Jesus constantly appears, and He is always represented as youthful and endowed with as much beauty as it was within the power of the artist to bestow ; but, in in the mediocracy that may then be said to have been universal, the subject never received adequate treatment. His person was not, it is true, always an imitated Apollo or Mercury, bedecked with Christian emblems, but it was as little that of the Christ. His portraits-miraculous and otherwise,—had already originated a conventional type, and the famous letter of Lentulus (forgery though it was,) justified the prevalent opinion in regard to His beauty. Christian art never freed itself from the influence of classicism until Christendom had reached the lowest depth and last period of its intellectual degradation ; and in consequence we possess numerous representations of persons of the pantheon called after Him and placed in His position with reference to other figures. Artists fell into all sorts of extravagant incongruities, and Christ is often depicted as a Roman officer, wearing Senatorial robes, and seated in a curule chair, and in this disguise He is sometimes actually placed upon the mystic mount whence flow the four rivers, and is surrounded by the Evangelists. There gradually arose two typical modes of depicting the Son ; the first and most ancient was that in which He was represented as a beautiful youth, the other that in which He appears as a stern and sorrowstricken man. These general forms existed contemporaneously, with perhaps some preponderance in number in favor of the former, until the tenth century, and then, in consequence of a marked increase of religious zeal all over Europe, and an added vigilance and severity upon the part of the Church, a great change occurred. The entire character of artistic representation was altered by this reaction—the miracles of mercy and the illustrations of that charity upon which practical Christianity is based gradually gave place to delineations of the Passion and the Last Judgment, and Christ the Redeemer was supplanted by an avenging God, from whose awful throne issued the fiery streams that engulfed the wicked. “ How great," observes Didron, “ is the difference between the inexorable Christ of Michael Angelo and the merciful God of the ancient sarcophagi; what centuries of misery and misfortune must have passed away in the same country before the type preserved in the frescoes of the catacombs changed into that preserved in the Sistine Chapel !”
In depicting the “Triumph of Christ,” His figure varies as remarkably as it does in delineations of other scenes belonging to the history of the Atonement. Both in Greek and Latin art He is portrayed as especially the messenger of God, and is there figured like an angel, wearing, however, the cruciform nimbus, inscribed with some designative text.
Classic art had no subject in which solemnity of design was more conspicuous than in that of the Pantocrator, as He appears in the great cupolas of the Greek Churches; but in the barbarism of the West the conception became degraded to an almost inconceivable degree, and it is not uncommon to see Christ represented in the Roman frescoes as “a naked, feeble and suffering infant,” surrounded, however, with the insignia of “an infinite majesty," forced by the necessities of the Father's scheme for the redemption of mankind to become incarnate. In many paintings and illustrations He is portrayed in the act of receiving the scrip and staff of a pilgrim and, except from the composition of the picture or group, or the incongruous introduction of emblems peculiar to the Divine person, the figure has no individuality whatever. So also, on His ascent to heaven, “ after sin and death have been overcome, and the basilisk and asp are slain," it is not the victorious and Divine Son of God that Western artists have portrayed, but only a palmer giving an account of his distant journey. • In fact, this whole subject, as it appears in the later Roman and mediæval works, preserved in a great number of medallions, MSS., miniatures, etc., is treated trivially and contemptibly, and the artists themselves are only saved from the imputation of blasphemy because we know them to have been so ignorant as to have been practically irresponsible.
God, meditating upon Himself, evolved Christ, and from the Father and the Son proceeds the Holy Ghost. Such is patristric philosophy, as taught by its greatest master! This is merely the restatement of a question with which reason can have nothing to do, since it is from its nature undemonstrable, and must be resolved by all men according to the measure of their faith. The abstract nature of the Trinitarian doctrine is well expressed in art; but, if the Father veiled His face from men under the new dispensation, He had not always done so during the old, and it was possible to connect the Christian God with the world through the Jewish Jehovah. Not so with the Third Person of the Trinity, who at all times remained but an impersonification of certain qualities, and whose individuality was never invested with a typical form. “The different characteristics to be observed belong less to the epoch than to the country, or the imagination of the artist; they rest rather on ästhetics and geographical situation, than on chronological distinctions.” Up to the eleventh century, the Holy Spirit is always depicted under the form of a dove, whose head is encircled with the cruciform nimbus, and so general was the opinion that this abstract conception of divinity was best represented emblematically, that in the eighth century Severus was anathematized by the Second Council of Nicea for objecting to the custom. Those fanciful correspondences that are so alluring to minds in a certain stage of devolopment, gave rise to numerous parallels between the swiftness, innocence and ærial home of the dove, and the functions of the Paraclete as related to the nature and action of the soul. There were no better attested miracles than those in which the spirit of Polycarp was seen to arise from his ashes in the form of a white dove, and that of Patitius, under the same likeness, to spring from the martyr's blood and wing its flight towards heaven.
Until the materialism of the age became so gross that people were unable to appreciate an allegorical representation, however plain its meaning, this continued to be the generally received emblem of the Third Person, and thus He is figured in the act of descending upon the head of St. John the Precursor, and resting upon the shoulders of Gregory the Great, in his statue at Nôtre Dame de Chartres. Finally, when men became incapable of conceiving an abstract and impersonal power, the Holy Spirit was anthropomorphized, and it is under the human form that he places the crown upon the Virgin in the Cathedral of Amiens.
The incarnation of the Third Person was a gradual process, however, and was preceded by the symbol of the winged head, in illustration of His function as the creator and preserver of science. A more figurative expression of the same conception is the pillar of fire, probably due to suggestions found in the commentaries of Gregory of Tours. In general, however, “ as we approach our own time,” remarks M. Cyprian-Robert,“ the genius of modern invention sought to represent the Holy Ghost as a beautiful young man,—the immortal youth by whom nature is captivated.” Illuminations of the twelfth century present the Trinity as equal in everything, even in age; and the persons are always made mature. This idea, carried to extravagance, gave rise to the custom of representing them with three bodies joined to one head, and this an altogether uncharacteristic one, only to be distinguished by the Divine emblems.
Occasionally, during the darkest mediæval period, the Holy Spirit is omitted in delineations of the Trinity; but“from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century these representations—i.e., those in human shape,-abound, . . . . . and we find figures of Him in mortal form, varying from the tenderest infancy (some months only, or a few years of age,) up to an advanced period of old age.”
Even apart from theological constructions, the iconographical history of the Virgin presents features not surpassed in interest by those already outlined. The admission of a female element into their pantheons is a fact common to most of the historic religions, and the conception of a virgin mother, co-operating in those incarnations of the Divine essence which have many times been supposed to visit the earth, is not by any means peculiar to Christianity. But here, as elsewhere, the canonical books have been reticent, and an ideal so full of tenderness and beauty has been left to religious associations for development. Churches have filled up the blanks left by the Bible, and must naturally have accomplished this according to their capacities and the temper of the times.
Whether or not we acknowledge her as the Queen of Heaven, it is nevertheless true that she reigns in the hearts of the larger portion of Christians, and those to whom history is truly “philosophy teaching by example ” will need no further proof of her Divine right to sovereignty. We are not now discussing what should be believed, but the influence upon art of certain doctrines, whether true or not; and in this connection we may assert that, if the age immediately succeeding the fall of Rome had not the ability to produce any representation of a God, it was still less capable of producing a goddess. Fifteen centuries of preparation were required in order to enable the nation then most advanced in civilization to accomplish this, and to realize a conception in which the universal heart could recognize the expression of its own emotions. Among many reasons for this, the attitude of the Church towards women is most prominent. Individual females were honored and sainted, but the sex itself was degraded, even from the position it had occupied during the Empire. Doctrinal implications are less easily avoided when treating of the history of the Virgin in art, than while we were engaged in tracing the iconography of the Trinity, and we shall therefore only give an outline of the more striking variations in the manner of depicting her.
St. Augustine says that no authentic portrait existed in his day, and the earliest we possess seem to be no more than expressions of