A head full of images of Mary and the Veiled Virgin statue returned with me from Newfoundland and I drew two more views (below) in January and February. (Statue by Giovanni Strazza – 1818-1875). I also finished or started four more Madonna and Child Images. Mary continues to be my artistic inspiration. There is a sense, when in Newfoundland, that under the long winters, cold coastal waters and fierce winds overlays the warmth that is faith. Mary, Star of the Sea.
This is a copy of an icon credited with healing miracles. There are many copies of the Three-handed Virgin but the legend of the original is thus:
Iconoclasm (8th century AD) was a prohibition of the veneration of icons and many were destroyed. John of Damascus wrote in defense of the use of icons in worship and criticized Emperor Leo III. Leo responded by accusing him of treachery and John had his right hand cut off and hung publicly. After a few days John asked for the hand back and with the hand, in hand so to speak, John fervently prayed before the Theotokos (God bearer) icon to have his hand restored. And it was! Grateful for the healing he attached a silver hand to the icon and it became known as “Three-handed” or Tricherousa.
Many reproductions, as here, show the hand as blue, sometimes with a flame shooting from the thumb.
I began here (left) by painting a thinned layer of brown madder. I draw the image using both a clean rag and a brush. It is then allowed to dry. The next several layers, done in a variety of transparent colours, are further refinement of the value and design. This stage (right) marks just past the halfway point of the painting.
If you visit the Presentation Convent in St. John’s you may request to see a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a small bust done by Giovanni Strazza (Italy 1818-1875). It is exquisitely sculpted from one piece of Carrera marble, and is striking for both its content and its craft. The bust was shipped from Italy to St. John’s, in 1856 and has been with the Presentation Sisters since 1862.
Inspired by this beautiful sculpture I have done several pencil sketches of the bust. Here are two. Find out more about the “Veiled Virgin”.