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Category Archives: Object of the Month.2016

Object of the Month: February 2016

St. Augustine

Oil on panel

Gaspar de Crayer

Flemish, 1584–1669


Click on the links throughout the article to view additional artists’ works and reference material.

Gaspar de Crayer began his career in the city of his birth, Antwerp. He later moved to Brussels and trained under the artist Raphael Coxie, court painter to Archduke and Duchess Albert and Isabella.  This introduction to the court facilitated a longstanding relationship with the rulers of the Spanish Netherlands. De Crayer eventually did work himself for the Archduke and Duchess and went on to receive the appointment of official court painter to Cardinal-infant Ferdinand and eventually well-known art collector, Archduke Leopold Wilhelm. He embraced life in Brussels serving as dean of the Brussels painters’ guild from 1611–1616 and as a member of the city council from 1626–1627. In his later years, he moved to Ghent where he died.

De Crayer spent much of his career fulfilling commissions for altarpieces, however, he also dabbled in portraiture as well. His works show similarities in style and technique to those of Peter Paul Rubens and Rubens’ famous student, Anthony van Dyck (both of whom are represented in M&G’s collection). Today, de Crayer’s works fill world-renown museums such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museo del Prado in Spain, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, and the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Paris. The presence of Gaspar de Crayer’s St. Augustine at the Museum & Gallery reveals the breadth and importance of the Old Master collection.

De Crayer’s St. Augustine illustrates the depth of religious fervor Augustine possessed. The flaming heart, depicted here in Augustine’s hand, symbolizes his zeal and devotion for God. The contrast of the dark background draws the viewer’s attention to Augustine’s face where he appears lost in thought. This small dramatic painting was most likely meant for private devotion and to inspire the viewer to the same religious ardor that ruled Augustine’s life.

Known as one of the four eminent Fathers of the Western Church, Augustine of Hippo remains one of the most well-known figures in church history and Christianity. Augustine was born in a province of North Africa in 354 CE where he received an excellent education and excelled in rhetoric and philosophy. His studies exposed him to a wide array of religions and philosophies leading him to live his early years in moral irresponsibility. His mother, Saint Monica, devoutly prayed for her wayward son and saw the answer to her prayers in the form of Saint Ambrose of Milan. Under the teaching and guidance of Ambrose, Augustine converted to Christianity becoming a priest and eventually a bishop. He is perhaps most well-known for his writings, Confessions (an autobiography) and The City of God  as well as his fervent zeal for the spread of Christianity. In art, artists typically portray Augustine in the vestments of a bishop as evidenced in this work by the presence of the crozier (bishop’s staff carried by high-ranking church officials).

Rebekah Cobb, Guest Relations Manager


Published in 2016

Object of the Month: January 2016

Tapestries on the Life of King Hezekiah: The Destruction of the Idols by Hezekiah, The Sacrifice of Hezekiah,  and Hezekiah’s Life Prolonged

Signed: unknown weaver’s mark (bottom right)

Woven wool  and silk tapestry

Designed by Jan Cornelisz. Vermeyen

Flanders, active 16th century

Woven by the Weaver of the Hezekiah Series (of the Royal Swedish Collection in Stockholm), also known as the Weaver of the Book of the Kings Series (of the Royal Collection in Vienna)

Brussels, c. 1530

Click on the links throughout the article to view additional artists’ works and reference material.
During these winter months, we turn up the thermostat, put on a sweater, or throw an extra blanket on the bed when the temperatures drop. Insulation, thermal-pane windows, and caulking keep our houses snug from winter’s chill.  But what if your home was a drafty castle with no warmth except near the fireplace? If you were wealthy enough, tapestries would provide some insulation to keep the winter winds out and the meager warmth in. The tapestry’s portability was an added bonus. When one residence got particularly smelly or otherwise unsuitable, the artistic insulation could be rolled up and transported to the next home. Of course, we view tapestries today primarily as works of art, without much thought as to their original practical purposes.

When you step into the Lobby at the Museum & Gallery at Bob Jones University, some of the first works of art you encounter are three tapestries, each measuring 13 feet x 11.5 feet. They depict three scenes from the life of King Hezekiah, ruler of Judah in the 8th and early 7th centuries BC. The tapestries were produced in Brussels, Brabant (before Belgium existed as a country) in the early 16th century, and by the early 17th century they graced the walls of Somerset House in London, residence of Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of King Charles I. Since tapestries were considered the most valuable objects of their time, only royalty or the very wealthy would have owned them. With the beheading of Charles I, the tapestries became possessions of Cromwell’s Commonwealth. Later sales trace them to Spain and then New York. M&G acquired them in 1965.

The Bible records details of Hezekiah’s life in 2 Kings 18–20, Isaiah 36–39, and 2 Chronicles 29–32. As one of Israel’s moral, godly rulers, Hezekiah is depicted in the first two tapestries destroying idols and restoring temple sacrifices to draw his countrymen back to serving and worshiping the one true God genuinely, purely, and wholeheartedly. The third tapestry shows an incident where Hezekiah was gravely ill and requested a longer life from the Lord; God answered his prayer and miraculously healed him. The Latin phrases at the top of each tapestry describe the events of each pictured scene.

Anne Short, Volunteer Collection Researcher & Retired Docent

Published in 2016