Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Illustration: The St. Bernard Triptych, Part II

Continuing our excursion into one of my latest illustration commissions, a sequence of images depicting events from the life of St. Bernard done for a client in New York City, here is a view of the central panel, depicting the saint in glory.



Matthew Alderman. S. Bernard of Clairvaux. Ink. June 2009. Private Collection, New York City.


Above his head, two angels bear the coat of arms of the Cistercian Order, while below, St. Bernard bears his crozier in his right hand, the abbatial veil curling around its shaft. His posture is derived in part from Zurbarán's marvelous painting of St. Francis upright in the tomb (ca. 1630/34). Numerous smaller details depict the saint's various attributes in discrete ways--the bees worked into the foliage of his crozier-head, representing his title of Doctor Melifluus; the arms of the Templar Order, whose rule he wrote, on the knob of its staff; another shield depicting the mitres of the three dioceses he rejected; an angel presenting him with a model of the abbey of Clairvaux, and a scroll inscribed with the opening passage of the Canticle of Canticles, on which he frequently preached.

For those of you who missed it, the first installment of this series can be found here. Tomorrow I will share the final panel in the sequence, depicting Christ's revelation of the Holy Shoulder to the saint.