Thursday, April 5, 2012

"O Death Where Is Thy Sting?" or Happy Easter Everyone!

Easter week celebrates the moment when, in Christian metaphysics, mortality is overcome by everlasting life. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ redeems mankind from the sinful state into which mankind fell through Adam's disobedience to the will of God in the garden of Eden. His resurrection liberates us from eternal perdition: in Saint Paul's famous words (I Corinthians, XV.54-55) "So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, 'Death is swallowed up in victory'. O death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?".

These concepts were articulated with fresh force in the later sixteenth century through the Counter-Reformation, in media such as altarpieces, sermons, the educational work of the Jesuit Order, and through devotional prints which were widely disseminated. Here we present four such prints from the holdings of the Wellcome Library...
Read the entire article from which this excerpt is drawn--and see more images!--on the excellent Wellcome Library blog by clicking here; click on image to see a much larger, more detailed view.

Image: Engraving after Maerten de Vos, late 16th century. Wellcome Library no. 23283i.

As described on the blog:
Finally in this sequence, we have the powerful figure of Christ triumphing over death. The upper part combines two scenes: Christ is simultaneously resurrected from the tomb and ascends into heaven. In the lower left corner, Death itself is about to be swallowed up by a monster, while in the centre the snake that led Adam and Eve astray, and who is entwined around the secular world, is about to be trampled down by the wounded foot of Christ. On the right a tablet engraved with the Ten Commandments faces upwards, indicating that Christ is triumphing over righteousness of the law, replacing it with righteousness of faith...

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