Sunday, July 2, 2017

Matthew 11.16-19, 25-30: Burdened

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-30 (Gospel reading for Proper 9/Pentecost 5A; Matthew 11:16-19. 25-30)
All three images are by French artist Honore Daumier. All are the same subject and even the same composition. All are called "The Burden". And as much as they have in common, all three are in some ways, unique. One has a bright sky. One has more shadow. One has warmer light. One has a costume difference. It is those differences that might lead to different answers to the questions below, depending on the version under discussion.

What is the burden? Is it the bundle carried by the woman? Is it the child? Is it her life situation? Does the same element feel "burdensome" in all three pictures?

Does the child have a burden as well? In two of the versions, the child's face is not visible. Is this yet another child of whom the world takes no notice? When children are "invisible" who is burdened?

Though the child is touching the mother, the mother has no personal contact with the child. Why might that be? What does that contribute to the idea of "burden"?

The figures may be perceived as running. Do you think they are running? Running from what? Running to what? Is it a burden that they need to run?

How do the artist's color choices contribute to the idea of a burden? Does one version of the composition feel more "burdensome" to you? Which one? Why does that color scheme speak to you of "burden"? Does any particular scheme not speak of burden?

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. That is the promise Jesus makes to each of us. The composition of "The Burden" is a reminder that each of us carries burdens. The three different versions remind us that we may not, from the outside, be fully able to tell the story of someone else's burden.

Honore Daumier. The Burden.
Left: 1865. Private collection
Middle: 1850-1853. St. Petersburg, Russia: The Hermitage.
Right: The National Museum of Wales. 

This week on the Art&Faith Matters Facebook page, Van Gogh and this week's Gospel reading. Click on the link below.

No comments:

Post a Comment