Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Other Modern: Alex Asperlagh and St.Josephkerk, Leiden, The Netherlands

During the course of our coverage of Corpus Christi from around the world, we came across a rather interesting church in Leiden, St. Josephkerk.

What caught my attention was the mural. Immediately my curiosity was piqued and I wondered if we were perhaps on the verge of discovering another example for our Other Modern series. Accordingly I sourced out another photo, which I shared at that time, which showed a bit more of the sanctuary artwork:

However, while this gave a better view, one could tell that the whole story was not being told by this photo alone and so I asked if any of our readers could perhaps fill in some of the blanks. Fortunately, someone came forward with some added photographs; a local to the church in question. But before we get to the images they sent in, I wanted to share the following image which gives a more comprehensive view of the entire church from nave through to sanctuary:

(Image source)

Frankly, seeing this overall view and seeing some of the particular architectural and artistic details found in the church, I am convinced that this most certainly falls into our Other Modern category.

Returning then to the muralwork, it was executed by the Dutch artist Alex Asperlagh (1901-1984), a student of the Academie van beeldende kunsten in The Hague. Here is a closer view of the entire work:

The work shows the Holy Trinity surrounded by choirs of the angels. The text is the first line of the Benedicite, the Canticum trium puerorum found in the book of Daniel: "Benedicite omnia opera Domini Domino. Laudate et superexaltate eum in saecula" (O all ye Works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord : praise him, and exalt him for ever).

Here also is a picture which shows the broader sanctuary:

Now, I feel compelled to note that in looking at this particular photo there is an unfortunate amount of clutter seen here, what-with the overabundance of Easter flowers and candlesticks, as well as the rather dated freestanding altar placed before the original high altar. However, this is all accidental (in the philosophic sense) and we should not allow that to colour our considerations of the architecture and art proper. I would ask you to instead consider the architecture and art as it would be without these accidentals and as it might have appeared originally. (And on this point I should also note that the large crucifix seen in these photos is also not original to the sanctuary.)

For my part, taking that view, I find this a very interesting church indeed.

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