Thursday, July 13, 2017

Paris Journal: "Jacob Wrestling With the Angel"

"Jacob Wrestling With the Angel" by Delacroix

Delacroix’s “Jacob Wrestling With the Angel,” adorns the wall on the right side of the vestibule as you walk into Saint-Sulpice, "The Chapel of the Holy Angels." “The other painting is also by Delacroix, "Hellodorus Driven From the Temple.” Man exercising power in the presence of divinity is one of the contrarieties of religion. The Crusades in fact were the epitome of an earthly battle waged for religious ideas—which is in fact, when you think of it, an aporia. On a sun filled late afternoon in Paris, the imposing church, the second largest in Paris, after Notre Dame, is a respite from the heat, but the art almost takes you off guard. It’s occupies just a cubby hole, an area that might otherwise have been devoted to announcements of church events or donations (there's in fact a donation box ) and it lies far from the center of action, the alter and nave, where the crucifixion looms. It’s almost like a Talmudic commentary that appears in the margins of the text. You simply take in the wisdom and then walk out without bothering to proceed down the aisles towards the smattering of worshippers who fill the pews.

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