Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Which Evangelist is Which? The Answers

Last week I posted images of four stained-glass windows, and asked “Can you identify the four Evangelists?” Well, as a result of readers’ contributions, I think we have the answers. First, here are the original images, with the Evangelists unnamed; they date from 1915 and were made in Chicago by German artists.

Counter-clockwise from the top right: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John.

A number of people used a deep knowledge of sacred art to deduce the answer. Here is one example from Alex P:
I am most certain about John. It is not uncommon to see him younger than the others, simply because he was younger, and the image of John resting of Christ’s breast indicates a degree of immaturity. The other sign is the red hair, another frequent trait in Western art. Leonardo has him beardless and red-headed. Yes, that is John. The Deacon is right that St. John is typically old and bald in icons, but exceptions exist, e.g. by Dionisius, no mean iconographer. 
I am fairly certain about Matthew because of the evident old age; the parted and very long beard is often a sign of wisdom. That is consistent with iconographic tradition. Mark is often younger and square-faced. Remember him running away naked? This thought adds agility to his image. The image on the stained glass also shows square, strong face. That is Mark. 
Of Luke I am less certain, but he is now identifiable by default. He is shown in contemplative mood: the book is closed. Might that point to an artist observing the features of Mary? Another hint is that he looks less Jewish; the window-maker gave him outright Nordic look, which of course wouldn’t match his Greek ethnicity, but indicates some ethnic distinction.
The clincher comes from another reader, Susan, who sent me the following photos of windows in Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church in Central City, Kentucky, in which the Evangelists are named.
St Mark, left; and St Matthew, right.
St Luke, left; and St John, right.
Q.E.D. – Thank you for your contributions!

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