Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.


Wednesday, 24 June 2020

The Birth of St John the Baptist


Today is the Feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist


The annunciation to Zacariah by the Archangel Gabriel

Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist, appears in an elaborate vestment with pendant bells and pomegranates. Recent scholarship has shown that these indicate his role as the High Priest, whose unique privilege it is to enter the Holy of Holies of the Temple in Jerusalem on Yom Kippur. Around his leg is a rope held by another priest, whose job it would be to extract the body of the High Priest if he died as a result of not properly carrying out his sacred duties.


The Birth of St John the Baptist

Both panels are from a Retable painted by the Aragonese artist Domingo Ram, who was active 1464-1507

Images:Metropolitan Museum New York
Accompanying notes adapted from Met website

The other surviving panels from the Retable and which depict scenes from the life of St John the Baptist were acquired by The Cloisters in 1925, and are not on public display, can be viewed at: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search#!?searchField=All&sortBy=Relevance&artist=Ram,%20Domingo$Domingo%20Ram&offset=0&perPage=20

There is more about Domingo Ram and his contemporaries in this illustrated blog post in Spanish at http://pintura-gotica-aragon.blogspot.com/2009/02/7-gotico-naturalista-nicolas.html