Friday, May 4, 2012

Treasures in unlikely places

Exhibit A: A few weeks ago, Marie Malchodi, a book conservation technician at Brown University's John Hay Library, discovered this print by Paul Revere in the back of an 1811 edition of The Modern Practice of Physic, a tome once owned by Dr. Solomon Drowne, class of 1773.  It was one of 177 books from the collection of the good doctor, who was a well-known figure during the Revolutionary period. The engraving, titled “Buried With Him By Baptism,” shows John the Baptist raising Jesus from the River Jordan. Salvation history seems very immanent here, with the angels and the name of God in Hebrew up above, the banner with “This is my beloved Son—hear he him” issuing from the sun, the Biblical action in the center, and the modern-day crowd of onlookers on the right. 

Tomorrow: more treasures discovered in even odder places!

10 comments:

  1. I find this print to be rather curious, while the majority of the onlookers are gazing at Jesus and John the Baptist, the two men on the side are staring at something else. What are they looking at? Is this a representation that not all are believers in the divinity of Christ? OR could it be translated that not all are strong in faith and can come across as ambivalent to matters of religion? The focus of this print is not whats front and center its whats going on in the background. The onlookers on the shore are standing together, in a united front with a common respect for one another even if their persuasions may differ.

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    1. Nice insight ... wonder why several hands are in coats (I can't imagine it was cold at the River Jordan) ... maybe it was a standard way of posing or standing.

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    2. The onlookers all have their hands hidden--a Masonic gesture. Revere was a Freemason, and the heads that turn away from the scene of Jesus' baptism indicate their Deist sympathies. I'll bet Dr. Drowne was himself a Mason. I think this is Revere's proof of his own Deist persuasions. Penny is right; the story is the background, not the baptism scene!

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  2. that's a very insightful comment @TasteLikePennys. I didn't even notice the two figures looking elsewhere until I read your comment. That makes this even more intriguing!

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  3. Imagine the excitement had at finding some unknown work by a major historical figure like this! Head gasket: BLOWN!!

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  4. It also looks like some of the others in the group, towards the back, are tempted to look in the same direction, with their eyes veering sideways. Very cool print!

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  5. They probably watching out for REDCOATS (ugh... I'm sorry! Had to!)...

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  6. Mr. Revere was defintely a multi-talented individual. He was a siversmith & also dabbled in dentistry.

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    1. I think it's signed "Paul Revere, sculptor" (to add to his skills)

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  7. The onlookers could also be a wink in the direction of Deists, who doubted the divinity of Christ. I have a book from Daedalus "The Secret Founding of America", which states that the first three Presidents were Deists, like Benjamin Franklin, who openly expressed his opinions on Christ. Very observant of you, Penny.

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