is true and beautiful when its form corresponds to its particular vocation:
evoking and glorifying, in faith and adoration, the transcendent mystery of God
— the surpassing invisible beauty of truth and love visible in Christ, who
“reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature,” in whom
“the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” This spiritual beauty of God is
reflected in the most holy Virgin Mother of God, the angels, and saints.
Genuine sacred art draws man to adoration, to prayer, and to the love of God,
Creator and Savior, the Holy One and Sanctifier.” CATECHISM OF THE
An artist who embodies this is GWYNETH THOMPSON-BRIGGS, whom a friend recently clued me in on because of her very fine works of St. Benedict and his twin Scholastica.
So often we see Benedict as an old wise man, but this very Catholic artist has painted him as in the prime of life. She chose to depict the saints at about thirty-three, the age of Christ at the end of His life on earth. Reading St. Gregory the Great’s Life of Benedict in preparation for the project introduced her to the vigor of Benedict, “renouncing the world in the prime of his life for a life of manful asceticism, laying down monastic rules that have endured to our day,” she says. “I wanted to impart that vigor to the portrait.”
Charlton Heston was suggested as the model from his role in "The Ten Commandments" as a visual reference point. For St. Scholastica, Gwyneth chose a cross between Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren, and Julia Child. Obviously, she well researches her subjects, before painting. Some of her saints are brilliant. I love St. Joseph, who again she has portrayed in the prime of his life. I hate these St. Josephs that look as old as Methuselah!
During high school, Gwyneth studied under Tony Ortega at the Art Students League of Denver. She went on to earn a BFA at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. She also holds advanced degrees in Physics and Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. She taught college-level math for eight years, including two at the Colorado School of Mines, while continuing to study drawing and painting independently.
Gwyneth moved to New England to study the
“Christ sacrifices Himself to the Father in the Spirit through the action of His priest, but everything else on and around the altar is at once offered up with Christ as the first fruits of human effort. We have the duty and the privilege to offer the very best to God our Father. At the same time, sacred art — the chalice, the vestments, the altarpiece — expresses the reality and the sublimity of Christ’s sacrifice to those present, helping the doubter to believe, and helping the believer to pray. We are all poor sinners, half-blinded by original and actual sin; we need visible and audible beauty to help us see the glory of God.”Gwyneth now lives in
There is a wonderful interview in Benedict XVI Institute for the Sacred Music and Divine Worship. https://www.benedictinstitute.org/ and more articles online.