Saturday, June 25, 2016

01 Paintings, RELIGIOUS ART - Paintings from the Bible, Master of the Saint Godelieve Legend, with footnotes, 4

Saint Godelieve (c. 1049 – July 6, 1070) is a Flemish saint. Tradition, as recorded in her Vita, states that she was pious as a young girl, and became much sought after by suitors as a beautiful young woman. Godelieve, however, wanted to become a nun. A nobleman named Bertolf of Gistel, however, determined to marry her, successfully invoked the help of her father's overlord, Eustace II, Count of Boulogne. Godelieve's mother-in-law soon forced the young bride to live in a narrow cell with little food to support her. Godelieve shared this food with the poor.

Master of the Saint Godelieve Legend (Netherlandish, active fourth quarter 15th century)
The Life and Miracles of Saint Godelieve
Oil on wood
49 1/4 x 126 3/8 in. (125.1 x 311 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Bertolf also spread false rumors about her; the marriage was not consummated.

Godelieve managed to escape to the home of her father, Hemfrid, seigneur of Wierre-Effroy. Hemfrid, appealing to the Bishops of Tournai and Soissons and the Count of Flanders, managed to have Bertolf restore Godelieve to her rightful position as his wife. Godelieve returned to Gistel and soon after, at the order of Bertolf, was strangled by two servants and thrown into a pool, to make it appear as if she had died a natural death.

Master of the Saint Godelieve Legend (Netherlandish, active fourth quarter 15th century)
The Life and Miracles of Saint Godelieve
Panel 1

The seven scenes illustrate the life of Godelieve of Gistel. The narrative of her unhappy marriage, and murder at her husband’s orders, begins on the far left where Godelieve, marked by a halo, appears with her parents and two sisters.

Master of the Saint Godelieve Legend (Netherlandish, active fourth quarter 15th century)
The Life and Miracles of Saint Godelieve
Panel 2

The second panel provides evidence of Godelieve’s sanctity, showing her feeding the poor from household supplies. When a servant checks, on her father’s orders, the stolen food hidden in her dress has turned into wood chips.

Master of the Saint Godelieve Legend (Netherlandish, active fourth quarter 15th century)
The Life and Miracles of Saint Godelieve
Panel 3

In the third panel Godelieve’s parents entertain the count of Boulogne who has come to urge Godelieve’s marriage to the knight Bertolf. In the background Godelieve has given delicacies intended for the guest to the poor and prays for God’s help; angels bring dishes of food for the feast.

Master of the Saint Godelieve Legend (Netherlandish, active fourth quarter 15th century)
The Life and Miracles of Saint Godelieve
Panel 4

 In the fourth panel Godelieve weds Bertolf.

Master of the Saint Godelieve Legend (Netherlandish, active fourth quarter 15th century)
The Life and Miracles of Saint Godelieve
Panel 5

The fifthsection features Bertolf and his mother who hates Godelieve and turns her son against his new wife. The servant girl is set to spy on Godelieve’s activities.

Master of the Saint Godelieve Legend (Netherlandish, active fourth quarter 15th century)
The Life and Miracles of Saint Godelieve
Panel 6

In this sixth panel Godelieve is murdered by Bertolf’s two men, Lambert and Hacca. In the background the events leading up to the climactic scene lend further pathos: (1)Bertolf pretends affection for his wife in order to persuade her to meet with an old woman who will supposedly bring love to their marriage and (2) a vulnerable Godelieve is led from her bed by the two murderers who don’t give her time to put anything over her shift.

Master of the Saint Godelieve Legend (Netherlandish, active fourth quarter 15th century)
The Life and Miracles of Saint Godelieve
Panel 7

In the final panel, the two men lower Godelieve's body head first into a well to wash away any signs of struggle and verify that she is dead. Next they arrange her corpse in bed to pass off the death as natural. In the background the painter presents four miracles posthumously performed by the saint. More

This fully intact altarpiece was perhaps commissioned by the Guild of the Load Bearers in Bruges for their chapel in the "Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk" (Church of Our Lady). When closed, four saints––Josse, Nicholas, Quirinus, and John the Baptist––and two kneeling donors are visible. When open for the celebration of Mass, worshipers saw displayed for their edification the life and miracles of Saint Godelieve, patroness of Flanders. More

Master of the Saint Godelieve Legend (Netherlandish, active fourth quarter 15th century)
The Life and Miracles of Saint Godelieve
 the exterior panels of the Godelieve altarpiece
Oil on wood
49 1/4 x 126 3/8 in. (125.1 x 311 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The figures from left to right are: Saints Josse, Nicholas of Bari, Quirinus, and John the Baptist, with two male donors.

Bertolf married again, and had a daughter Edith, who was born blind: the legend states that Edith was cured through the intercession of Saint Godelieve. Bertolf, now repentant of his crimes, went to Rome to obtain absolution. He went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and became a monk at St. Winnoc's Abbey at Bergues.

Edith founded a Benedictine monastery at Gistel, which was dedicated to Saint Godelieve, which she joined herself as a nun. More


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