Copyright © Louise Bostock 2007-2013. Please give credit where credit is due.

Friday, 6 March 2009

The devil is in the detail

Six degrees at 8am. Overcast and unfriendly. Squidgy underfoot. But, I sense a turning in the weather and perhaps the weekend will be spent in the garden after all.



Fresco detail, Chiesa di San Gottardo, Carmine Superiore


Our tiny church is covered in 15th-century frescoes of the Lombardy School, which were in the process of being restored when I first came to Carmine. I could spend hours in the coolness and solitude of this prettiest of churches, discovering the tiny details that are everywhere.
It took me a long time, for instance, before I noticed with a jolt, the black-painted devil-figure in the distant background of this crowd scene. In my imagination he's jumping up and down, vainly trying to make the overdressed fools in the foreground see that while they are preoccupied elsewhere their opulent city is burning : "Over here! The city is burning! Why can't you hear me?! We're on fire!".

While this is actually part of a cycle depicting the life of St Bartholomew (the saint often shown carrying his own skin over his arm), for me its message is to not get too dazzled or distracted with events that take place right outside your front door. Other more important (exciting, life-affirming) things are often happening elsewhere.

Perhaps it could also offer a new twist on the old proverb : "the devil is in the detail"...?

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Louise,
Nice one again.

Vanessa said...

Reminds me of departmental meetings - the sycophants are crowding round, the boss is busy managing his title, and I'm in the background howling about deadlines!

Springtime said...

How very true.

A change in view point or a shift in focus is often really necessary; especially at the times when the detail is all-encompassing.

I feel I need a picture of that little devil living beside my computer screen!

Brenda said...

I had to enlarge the pic to see the devil, but he is there! I love the colors. Would love to know what the artist thought.

ladyfi said...

Perhaps the little devil started that fire in the first place?

It did take me a few moments to notice him! Love the details...

Caution Flag said...

Touche'

Louise said...

@Caution Flag : touche? Meaning?

Joy said...

Louise, that is beyond amazing. The history and art you can enjoy just by going to church not to mention the church stuff :)
Our church building is beautiful too, but it's less than 10 years old. So there is just no comparison.
I think I would go there often and pray, but would get distracted with the frescoes. (especially that little devil guy). He is a mystery isn't he. ♥ Joy

GutsyWriter said...

I saw the devil after enlarging the photo and was so excited. What is the contest you were talking about? Maybe I misunderstood, or haven't paid attention.

Louise said...

@ Joy : I believe that part of the reason for frescoes was to give the faithful something to meditate on that was uplifting - so in that sense, the frescoes would not have been seen as a distraction from prayer but as an aid to understanding the Christian way of life...

@Gutsy Writer : sorry I must have created the confusion. I only wanted to ask what other people might imagine was happening in this image...

Sadia Hussain said...

One often gets so lost in the surroundings that the devils ominous presence is forgotten; this is exactly what happened in this pretty picture.

chrysalis said...

Hi - Do you think the little devil is the artists signature. Can he be seen on any other of the frescoes?

Désirée said...

Paintings in churches are very interesting. Sometimes the painter have amused himself. Like when a keen eye could find a little Hindu god among all the Christian characters and symbols. I think this fellow was found in a Swedish church.

Friday, 6 March 2009

The devil is in the detail

Six degrees at 8am. Overcast and unfriendly. Squidgy underfoot. But, I sense a turning in the weather and perhaps the weekend will be spent in the garden after all.



Fresco detail, Chiesa di San Gottardo, Carmine Superiore


Our tiny church is covered in 15th-century frescoes of the Lombardy School, which were in the process of being restored when I first came to Carmine. I could spend hours in the coolness and solitude of this prettiest of churches, discovering the tiny details that are everywhere.
It took me a long time, for instance, before I noticed with a jolt, the black-painted devil-figure in the distant background of this crowd scene. In my imagination he's jumping up and down, vainly trying to make the overdressed fools in the foreground see that while they are preoccupied elsewhere their opulent city is burning : "Over here! The city is burning! Why can't you hear me?! We're on fire!".

While this is actually part of a cycle depicting the life of St Bartholomew (the saint often shown carrying his own skin over his arm), for me its message is to not get too dazzled or distracted with events that take place right outside your front door. Other more important (exciting, life-affirming) things are often happening elsewhere.

Perhaps it could also offer a new twist on the old proverb : "the devil is in the detail"...?

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Louise,
Nice one again.

Vanessa said...

Reminds me of departmental meetings - the sycophants are crowding round, the boss is busy managing his title, and I'm in the background howling about deadlines!

Springtime said...

How very true.

A change in view point or a shift in focus is often really necessary; especially at the times when the detail is all-encompassing.

I feel I need a picture of that little devil living beside my computer screen!

Brenda said...

I had to enlarge the pic to see the devil, but he is there! I love the colors. Would love to know what the artist thought.

ladyfi said...

Perhaps the little devil started that fire in the first place?

It did take me a few moments to notice him! Love the details...

Caution Flag said...

Touche'

Louise said...

@Caution Flag : touche? Meaning?

Joy said...

Louise, that is beyond amazing. The history and art you can enjoy just by going to church not to mention the church stuff :)
Our church building is beautiful too, but it's less than 10 years old. So there is just no comparison.
I think I would go there often and pray, but would get distracted with the frescoes. (especially that little devil guy). He is a mystery isn't he. ♥ Joy

GutsyWriter said...

I saw the devil after enlarging the photo and was so excited. What is the contest you were talking about? Maybe I misunderstood, or haven't paid attention.

Louise said...

@ Joy : I believe that part of the reason for frescoes was to give the faithful something to meditate on that was uplifting - so in that sense, the frescoes would not have been seen as a distraction from prayer but as an aid to understanding the Christian way of life...

@Gutsy Writer : sorry I must have created the confusion. I only wanted to ask what other people might imagine was happening in this image...

Sadia Hussain said...

One often gets so lost in the surroundings that the devils ominous presence is forgotten; this is exactly what happened in this pretty picture.

chrysalis said...

Hi - Do you think the little devil is the artists signature. Can he be seen on any other of the frescoes?

Désirée said...

Paintings in churches are very interesting. Sometimes the painter have amused himself. Like when a keen eye could find a little Hindu god among all the Christian characters and symbols. I think this fellow was found in a Swedish church.