An Advent Calendar – 17

‘…and his servants‘ – Every good king should have his retinue, but how many followers do you need? ‘What need you five and twenty, ten, or five?’ argues Goneril in Act 2, Scene 4 of Shakespeare’s King Lear. Her sister Regan goes further, ‘What need one?’, to which Lear’s response is straightforward: ‘O, reason notContinue reading “An Advent Calendar – 17”

An Advent Calendar – 13

‘Shepherds’ – This is the first of two days of Shepherds. Today I’m not interested in the two in the foreground – well, the foreground of this detail, anyway, they are quite a way back in the painting. Leaning over the wooden fence, we can tell they are shepherds because they are poorly dressed, withContinue reading “An Advent Calendar – 13”

An Advent Calendar – 12

‘Herod’s Men?’ – We’re quite a long way away here, looking off into the distance where the perspective makes things appear far smaller. Well, the linear perspective does. The aerial, or atmospheric, perspective makes things appear paler. The dust and mist in the air – and the air itself – knocks the light out ofContinue reading “An Advent Calendar – 12”

An Advent Calendar – 10

‘The Ass’ – Surely, I can hear you saying, surely there is biblical authority for the ass in a painting of Christ’s birth? It’s always there! How else would they have got to Bethlehem when, ‘there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed’ (Luke 2:10)? Well, it doesn’tContinue reading “An Advent Calendar – 10”