Counter Culture

Antonio Busiello 
Winner of the Gold Award of The Royal Photographic Society 2013

Christianity is, if anything, counter-cultural
In a world where bodily perfection is the ideal, the above photograph illustrates counter-culture, towards the real and the permanent and away from fantasy and the transitory
The “cullatori” are men who have tremendous calluses on their shoulders from bearing the weight of huge wooden structures year after year at the Festival of the Lillies in Nola, a small town in Southern Italy. 
Since 410 AD the team of “cullatori” carry eight 82 foot traditional derrick-shaped structure weighing over 2,000 pounds through the narrow streets of the town for one day and one night. 


Dürer: Head of the Dead Christ

Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528)
Head of the Dead Christ
Charcoal on paper
310 millimetres x  221 millimetres 
The British Museum, London

One of the Highlights of The British Museum is the drawing by Dürer of the head of the crucified Christ
The inscription is by Dürer: 

“Die 2 angsicht hab ich uch erlgemacht in meiner Kranckeit“ (‘I produced these two countenances when I was ill’).

The second face is also in the Museum
This is of course only one of a number of portraits by Dürer of the crucified Christ. However, this must be one of his most powerful depictions
We can only speculate from what suffering Dürer was inspired to produce a work of great Christian witness



Charles Willson Peale (1741 – 1827)
The Artist in His Museum 
Oil on canvas 
103¾ x 79 7/8 in. (263.5 x 202.9 cm)
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts 

Charles Willson Peale (April 15, 1741 – February 22, 1827) was an extraordinaryAmerican: painter, soldier and naturalist. A Renaissance man
His portrait paintings of leading figures of the American Revolution are naturally celebrated and remembered
He founded the Philadelphia Museum, later known as Peale’s American Museum which sadly later failed after his death. The collection all dispersed
Now we live in an age of Museums. Of all different sorts, types, collections, and the like


Cocteau and the Resurrection

Chapelle St Blaise des Simples and the Tomb of Jean Cocteau with the Fresco of The Resurrection, Milly-la-Forêt
La Chapelle Saint Blaise des Simples outside the ancient village of Milly la Forêt is all that remains of an old leper colony
The chapel dates back to the 12th century
After the Revolution it remained empty unused and unoccupied
In the 1950s it was taken over by the artist and poet Jean Cocteau
The main theme was The Death and Resurrection of Christ. Cocteau is buried under the floor of the Chapel
Cocteau`s epitaph under the figure of the Risen Christ is inscribed

Old Vatican

Rodolfo Lanciani, Forma Urbis Roma (Milan, 1893-1901), plate VI – The Vatican Gardens (North) (Vatican Museums)

Rodolfo Lanciani, Forma Urbis Roma (Milan, 1893-1901), plate XII – The Vatican Gardens (West)

Rodolfo Lanciani, Forma Urbis Roma (Milan, 1893-1901), plate XIII – St Peter`s, The Vatican

Rodolfo Amadeo Lanciani 1846 – 1929 was a very distinguished and celebrated Professor of Ancient Topography at the University of Rome from 1878 until 1927
He was a pioneer, one of the four founders of a rational, modern approach to Roman cartography and archaeology
He was supervisor of excavations in the city. He was also a prolific author
He was a member of two academies, dei Lincei and di S. Lucia, as well as the recipient of many honorary degrees from many famous universities including Oxford and Harvard


The Wellcome Trust

Tommaso Alghisi, 1669 – 1713
Pope Innocent XI’s kidneys containing massive stones
From: Litotomia
Wellcome Library, London

The Wellcome Foundation in London is a fascinating institution in the heart of London
It aims to improve human and animal health
Amongst other methods to do this it explores medicine in historical and cultural contexts

The above picture throws new light on a virtually unknown side of the Papacy
Blessed Pope Innocent XI (1611 – 1689) was a martyr to the “stone” – that terrible and extremely painful affliction.
The picture above makes it clear that the poor man must have been in agony. He died from the stone.


Sessa Aurunca

The Ambo and Easter Candle Holder in the Duomo of Sessa Aurunca, Italy
From Heinrich Wilhelm Schultz (1808–1855) Denkmaeler der Kunst des Mittelalters in Unteritalien (1860)
The town of Sessa Aurunca is an ancient one, lying in the province of Caserta in the Campania
Today, not well known, and rather off the beaten track for tourists, one could be forgiven for saying “So what ?”
Well, the history of the populated site goes back to about 1000 BC.
In Roman times its position between the Via Appia and the Via Latina led to its importance.
Its significance in Christian history is underlined by the fact that it is/was the centre of a Diocese (now unfortunately subsumed into the Archdiocese of Naples) The earliest known Bishop is recorded as being about AD 500


St Edward the Confessor

Edward dies, and his soul is received into heaven, attended by St John and St Peter. (image 63, page 29r)
From Life of St Edward the Confessor by Matthew Paris c. 1250
University of Cambridge

Cures at King Edward’s tomb. (image 71, page 33r)
From Life of St Edward the Confessor by Matthew Paris c. 1250
University of Cambridge

One of the Treasures of the University of Cambridge Library Collection is the only copy of an illustrated Anglo-Norman verse Life of St Edward the Confessor, written in England probably in the later 1230s or early 1240s and, as preserved in a manuscript, executed c. 1250-60
There is strong evidence that Matthew Paris (d. 1259) was in fact the author


American Sublime

Frederic Edwin Church 1826 -1900
Oil on canvas 28 x 42 in. (71.1 x 106.8 cm)

Frederic Edwin Church 1826 -1900
Cotopaxi 1862.
Oil on canvas, 48 x 85 inches.
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit

Frederic Edwin Church 1826 -1900
Eruption at Cotopaxi, ca. 1865.
Oil on canvas, 9-9/16 x 17-1/16 inches.
Private collection.

Frederic Edwin Church 1826 -1900
Aurora Borealis
Oil on canvas 56 x 83 1/2 in. (142.3 x 212.2 cm)

Ten years ago the Tate Gallery in Britain had a wonderful exhibition entitled American Sublime: Landscape Painting in the United States 1820-1880 (more…)

Paradise Lost Book III

William Blake (1757-1845)
Christ Intercedes on Behalf of Man : ‘Father, thy word is past, man shall find grace’ (Milton, Paradise Lost III.227)
The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

William Blake (1757‑1827)
The Agony in the Garden
Tempera on iron
270 x 380 mm
Tate Britain, London

William Blake (1757‑1827)
The Crucifixion: ‘Behold Thy Mother’
Pen and ink and watercolour on paper
413 x 300 mm
Tate Britain, London

William Blake (1757‑1827)
The Angels hovering over the body of Christ in the Sepulchre; Christ in the sepulchre, guarded by angels
ca. 1805 (painted)
Watercolour, pen and ink
42.2 cm x 31.4 cm
The Victoria and Albert Museum, London (more…)