The Art of Advent
THE ART OF ADVENT
A painting a day from Advent to Epiphany
Jane Williams37 reflections, extending through Christmas into Epiphany, with interesting and contrasting nativities, themes linked to the magi, the baptism of Jesus, the conversion of Paul and the presentation in the temple.
‘We are not just preparing for an annual party, after which the world goes back to normal...’ Jane Williams rightly takes Advent most seriously, and encourages us to do the same, by presenting a cornucopia of theological wisdom inspired by a tremendous series of artistic masterworks. She brings incisive new perspectives into this complex season, encouraging a daily reflection - a counternarrative to the hurly burly and the commercial blandishments of December. There are 37 reflections in all, since the themes are extended through Christmas into Epiphany, with several interesting and contrasting nativities, themes linked to the magi, the baptism of Jesus, the conversion of Paul and even the presentation in the temple.
Many of the works considered will be familiar to most readers, with strong representation from Renaissance artists (Piero della Francesca, Hieronymous Bosch, Leonardo da Vinci, Dürer and Titian) and pre-Raphaelites (Millais, Holman Hunt). Other works, especially several of the modern artists, will provide new delight. Whether or not the art is familiar, the strength of this book is the series of penetrating essays. Williams brings out the subtle artistic symbolism and adds a careful theological narrative, full of allusions to scripture, showing what a biblically rich season we are entering. This is certainly not just about the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke.
Each essay is accompanied by clever questions, designed for personal reflection or group discussions, and ends with a short original prayer. Introduced enthusiastically by Archbishop John Sentamu, this is an ideal companion for the dark days of December and January, reminding us of the meaning and the challenges of Christ’s incarnation. I strongly recommend it.
Reviewed by Peter Clough
Reflection / Meditation / Spirituality
Festivals - Advent & Christmas
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