Tuesday, June 10, 2008

As my two eyes make one in sight

Blessing of the Wheat at Artois
Painted by Jules Breton (1827 - 1906)
Completed in 1857, oil on canvas, 50.5 ins. x 125.25 ins.
Courtesy of the Musées des Beaux-Arts d'Arras, France

About this Painting
Quoted from "The Rural Vision, France and America in the Late Nineteenth Century"
By Hollister Sturges - Copyright © All Rights Reserved:

"....His most ambitious canvas up to this time, The Blessing of the Wheat at Artois....exhibited at the 1857 Salon, translates the customs of this rural community on an epic scale.....Breton gathered all segments of the village society in a religious ceremony.....in his rendering of a priestly procession on the plain of Courrières, Breton emphasized that the Christian faith of the Community was intact. In this ancient, rustic ritual intended to ensure the abundance of the harvest, the priest beneath the canopy carries the host in the monstrance out into the fields. Rural notables, village maidens, and others make up the procession, and as they pass, peasants kneel before them in pious gratitude. This epic picture emphasizes the social harmony of the agricultural community, which in turn brings forth the fruits of a bountiful nature."

In this painting I came to realize what I have tried to put into words and always feeling that the words fell hard on the paving stones. I see in this painting our basic yearning, need and desire to live as one. Like this Robert Frost poem:

But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes.

- from Two Tramps In Mud Time.


Athos said...

Yeah, I agree, Aramis. I posted on Breton's painting once back in April, but I like your commentary very much. It reminds me of this.

David Nybakke said...

Dear Athos,

Strange how I was meandering around the internet yesterday and came across idle speculations blog. He had this painting up and I couldn't take my eyes off it. And I liked what he wrote in the post Bénédiction des blés en Artois and so I did a little more research and posted.

Once you commented about your post in April, I knew I had seen the painting before Chronicles of Atlantis, but I didn't think to search your site.

Thank you for sending me back to your post, Dégénération, I simply love it. I am going to post it with our favorite music.

Back to the painting one last time; for me, it reflects a single purpose of life (giving praise and all to God) with multiple components (the church) to help feed off one another. I see so clearly the 2 great commandments in it - love God and love others. Though I like the Dégénération/family generation theme of your one post, to me, when I look into the painting I see communion around many families grounded in all of what life brings into our world so that sharing the burdens and hard labor with delighting in the joys of new birth and harvesting the fruits of labor - it is the life that God plants into our lives, His Church.