Sunday, 16 October 2011

Hands of the Martyrs

Charlotte Corday's fateful letter of introduction gripped by the hand of the dying Marat - a detail from Jacques-Louis David's saintly portrayal of the assassinated citoyen Marat. The painting is a star attraction in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels and retains its power and fascination as a brilliantly calculated image of political martyrdom. According to Wikipedia the original letter still exists as the property of the Earl of Crawford. The marble hands below are a likeness of those belonging to Bishop Marius Ambrosius Capello (1597-1676) seen on his tomb in Antwerp Cathedral. While the hands of Marat would be deeply stained with ink from decades of subversive journalism, we would expect the hands of the Bishop to be more accustomed to the delivery of blessings and the splashing of holy water. What distinguished Bishop Capello from all his fellow Bishops of Antwerp was his generosity to the poor of the city to whom he bequeathed all his worldly wealth.

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