Old And Sold Antiques Auction & Marketplace
Antiques Digest Browse Auctions Appraisal Home

Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Saint Gudule

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

The windows of Saint-Gudule are of a kind almost unknown in France, real paintings, real pictures on glass of a marvellous style, with figures like Titian and architecture like Paul Veronese.

The pulpit of this church is carved in wood by Henry Verbruggen and bears the date of 1699. The whole of creation, the whole of philosophy, the whole of poetry are expressed here by an enormous tree which supports the pulpit in its boughs and shelters a world of birds and animals among its leaves, while at its base Adam and Eve are pursued by a sorrowful angel, followed by Death who seems triumphant, and separated by the tail of the serpent. At its summit, the cross - Truth - and the infant Jesus, whose foot rests upon the head of the bruised serpent. This poem is sculptured and carved out of oak alone, in the strongest, the most tender, and the most spirituelle manner. The effect is prodigiously rococo and prodigiously beautiful. No matter what the fanatics of the severe school would say, it is true. This pulpit is one of those rare instances in art where the beautiful and the rococo meet. Watteau and Coypel have also occasionally discovered such points of intersection...

It was three o'clock when I entered Saint-Gudule. They were celebrating the Office of the Virgin, A Madonna, covered with jewels and clothed in a robe of English lace, glittered on a dais of gold in the centre of the nave through a luminous cloud of incense which was dispersed around her. Many people were praying in the shadow motionless, and a strong ray of sunlight from above dispelled the gloom and shone full upon the large statues of proud mien arranged against the columns. The worshippers seemed of stone, the statues seemed alive.

And then a beautiful chant of mingled deep and ringing voices fell mysteriously with the tones of the organ from the highest rails hidden by the mists of incense. I, during this time, had my eye fixed dreamily upon Verbruggen's pulpit, teeming with life,-that magic pulpit which is always suggestive. - Frame this with windows, ogives, and Renaissance tombs of white marble and black, and you will understand why a sublime sensation was produced by this scene...

I climbed the towers of Saint-Gudule. It was beautiful. The entire city lay beneath me, the toothed and voluted roofs of Brussels half-hidden by the smoke, the sky (a stormy sky), full of clouds, golden and curled above, solid as marble below; in the distance a large cloud from which rain was falling like fine sand from a bag which has burst; the sun shone above everything; the magnificent openwork, lantern-like belfry stood out sombre against the white mists; then the confused noise of the town reached me, then the verdure of the lovely hills on the horizon: it was truly beautiful. I admired everything like a provincial from Paris, which I am, - everything, even the mason who was hammering on a stone and whistling near me.

Bookmark and Share