Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Disturbing Contrast

St. Nicholas and the Schoolboys" by Gerard David (c. 1460 - 1523)

Once I figured out what pinterest was all about I became a very enthusiastic pinner.  I pin everything from food to fashion to saints to bible stories to cute kitties. 

 So of course I have a St. Nicolas' board. And while looking for artwork illustrating the various legends and tales about the saint I came across this painting by Gerard David.  I found it very disturbing.

Well the story it illustrates is pretty disturbing.  A wicked butcher who had no meat to sell lures three school boys into his shop, murders them, chops them up and pickles them.  Fortunately Nicolas is on the case and brings them back to life.  Your typical fairytale horror tale that is supposed to help children deal with the dark side of life.

But what I saw in this painting was not a kindly man protecting children.  I saw three naked boys with a bishop.  I think you can guess what images THAT brought up.  The boys are naked in all the art connected with this story but there is something about the innocence David captures in this, and the way the bishop towers over them.  Creepy creepy creepy.

To me this painting brings out the stark contrast of what the church is supposed to do, protect children.  And what it often has not done.  Kind of a sour note for a fun day but there it is. 


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