Art and Culture

Elements of the Ordinary

13/01/2011 3:00 pm

 Joachim Beuckelaer’s faith-filled paintings of the elements: earth, air, fire and water

As we re-entered Ordinary Time in the Church's calendar in 2011 after the Christmas season’s festivities and celebrations, we're embarking on a new podcast series that can be found on our Catholic Art and Culture iTunes channel.

'Elements of the Ordinary' takes a look at Joachim Beuckelaer’s faith-filled paintings of the elements: earth, air, fire and water. The works hang in the National Gallery in London.

For the commentary and analysis, we again team up with cliftondiocese.com and join Dr James Hanvey, a Jesuit priest who’s an expert in art and culture, and Fr Christopher Whitehead, Clifton's Director of Adult Education and Evangelisation.

Fathers Hanvey and Whitehead are well known for their art appreciation having brought us our ‘Advent Art’ and 'Tapestry Talk' series which were broadcast on BBC local stations and made the news on the BBC website.

You can find out more about the paintings on the National Gallery’s excellent website.

Earth

From the National Gallery site:

In this painting, 'Earth', the produce is depicted with tremendous bravura: vegetables tumble from the basket held by the woman on the left, and cascade towards the viewer. Sixteen different varieties of vegetable and fruit have been identified. The tiny figures of the Holy Family can be seen crossing a bridge in the far distance on the left.

Duration: 4m 18s

Air

From the National Gallery site:

In this painting, 'Air', different kinds of fowl are offered for sale, some still alive in large wicker baskets, others dead and ready for plucking. On the platter in the centre of the foreground are rabbits, and to either side eggs in a basket and stacks of cheeses. In the middle of the composition, at a distance, the prodigal son is shown leaning against a woman in a debauched manner.

Duration: 3m 9s

Water

From the National Gallery site:

Twelve different varieties of fish have been identified among those offered for sale in this painting. The direct gaze of the stall holders is particularly striking, as is Beuckelaer's use of steep perspective framing the street vista to the left. Framed by the central arch is the scene of Christ appearning to the disciples for the third time after his Resurrection to perform the miracle by which fish appear in hitherto empty nets.

Duration: 4m 19s

Fire

From the National Gallery site:

Fire is one of Beuckelaer's most ambitious works, combining the still life of haunches of meat and poultry being prepared for cooking on the fire beyond with a dramatic use of perspective constructions involving multiple vanishing points. Beyond the kitchen Christ is shown seated with Martha and Mary.

Duration: 3m 26s

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MP3

Fire by Joachim Beuckelaer

Fire is one of Beuckelaer's most ambitious works, combining the still life of haunches of meat and poultry being prepared for cooking on the fire beyond with a dramatic use of perspective constructions involving multiple vanishing points.   elements_fire.mp3 3.16 MB
MP3

Water by Joachim Beuckelaer

Twelve different varieties of fish have been identified among those offered for sale in this painting.   elements_water.mp3 3.95 MB
MP3

Earth by Joachim Beuckelaer

In this painting, 'Earth', the produce is depicted with tremendous bravura: vegetables tumble from the basket held by the woman on the left, and cascade towards the viewer.   elements_earth.mp3 3.94 MB
MP3

Air by Joachim Beuckelaer

In this painting, 'Air', different kinds of fowl are offered for sale, some still alive in large wicker baskets, others dead and ready for plucking.   elements_air.mp3 2.89 MB