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.

Sunday 9 April 2023

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!


The Resurrection 
Piero della Francesca

Image: Wikipedia 

Christ is Risen. Alleluia!
He is Risen Indeed. Alleluia!

Memorably described in 1925 by Aldous Huxley thus "It stands there before us in entire and actual splendour, the greatest picture in the world” Piero della Francesca’s The Resurrection in Sansepolchro, needs little introduction and invites reflection, humility and prayer.

The physicality of the painting, gives it an impact that makes it so exceptional yet so accessible. Here is the resurrection of the body in a very real body, not ethereal but genuine flesh and muscle. This is a figure of Christ in which to put one’s faith and trust. As Huxley observed this is the face of a man - Man - who has been to the Dead and returned. Nothing less, nothing more.

Sleep holds you, sons of war: you may not see
(You whose charmed heads sink heavy in your hands)
How 'twixt the budding and the barren tree
With glory in his staring eyes, he stands.
There's a sharp movement in this shivering morn
That blinds your sense while it breaks your power:
The Phoenix grips the eagle: Christ reborn
Bears high the standard. Sleep a little hour:
Sleep: it were best ye saw not those bright eyes
Prepared to wreck your world with errant flame,
And drive strong men to follow mysteries,
Voices, and winds, and things that have no name.
Dare you leave strength half-proved, duty half-done?
Awake! This God will hunt you from the sun!

James Elroy Flecker.

Cited by Jane Stemp Wickenden in a post on the Medieval Religion discussion group.

For those who want to read more online about the picture, its history and composition, its symbolism and significance, I would suggest The Resurrection (Piero della Francesca) from Wikipedia, an article by Christine Zappella which can be read at both Piero della Francesca, Resurrection on Smart History and at Piero della Francesca, Resurrection from Khan Academy and, from the Edinburgh DominicansPiero della Francesca's Resurrection of Christ

There are also 
The Greatest Painting? from The National Review in 2013, On the trail of Piero from The Spectator in 2016, and The Stone and the Dream on JSTOR

The survival of the painting in World War II is seemingly miraculous, a testimony to the power of Aldous Huxley’s words of awed admiration almost twenty years later 
as recalled in his memory by Tony Clarke.

A happy, joyful and peaceful Easter to all my readers.

This is an editing together and revision of two of my previous posts, from Easter Day in 2016 and 2022.

1 comment:

Matthew F Kluk said...

A Happy and blessed Easter to you!