Thursday, July 02, 2009

New Illustration: The St. Bernard Triptych, Part IV and Last

Matthew Alderman. The St. Bernard Triptych. Ink. June 2009.
Private Collection, New York.

To round out this series, I would like to leave you with one image showing the three panels placed together in context. In the original, the drawings are placed in three separate windows in a single mat, but this arrangement is closer to how I had initially planned to do the piece. You will note how the relative simplicity and austerity of the Holy Shoulder illustration contrasts the more feminine richness of the vision of the Virgin--an idea that came to me, in part, through the contrast of the Nativity and Passion elevations of the Sagrada Familia; and the black-and-white outline of the Cross provides a touch of asymmetry within this relatively balanced composition, creating what our friend Davis d'Ambly might term "incident." I will also say I am particularly pleasedwith the way the vision of Our Lady turned out, as I redrew her figure several times to get the proportions to where I was satisfied with them.

I do not have much more to add, though you will see how in the combined panels, Christ and Our Lady appear much higher in their panels than St. Bernard, the space above the head occupied by the Cistercian arms. This was because of my concern that placing all three at the same height might appear to reduce the Incarnate God and His Mother to mere attendants. Instead, while the saint in glory moves up within the composition as opposed to his more earthbound poses on either side, his glory is nonetheless placed within a hierarchy, with a clear space above for the the Virgin and her Son.

For enlargements of this work, and descriptions of its symbolism, you should see Part I, Part II and Part III posted earlier this week.


Our readers occasionally ask if I do commissions. I do, quite frequently, for occasions ranging from ordinations and entrances into the convent to birthdays and even a few logos for orgainzations and companies. I am presently preparing to design a large tapestry, which opens up all sorts of interesting vistas. Please feel free to contact me if you are interested. There are also many other fine illustrators out there on the web who would be glad of work. While our role today is, in great measure, to preserve our heritage, if this renewal is going to go anyhwere, it must also be to expand it forward in time through the creativity of new work--vetus ars nova, "old art in new ways."

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