The Death of St. Clare, Leah Renee Gregoire

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The Death of St. Clare


The Master of Heiligenkreuz

The Death of St. Clare

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The Death of St. Clare is a reflection from a painting sharing the same title created by the artist known as the Master of Heiligenkreuz.  The identity of this artist remains a mystery, although he seems to have been an itinerant master of the International Style.  It is thought that he was one of the refugee artists that left Bohemia at the beginning of the fifteenth century when the Hussite Wars broke out.  His painting is a diptych, the left wing depicting the Death of the Virgin Mary and the right depicting the Death of St. Clare.  It was painted in 1410.

In The Death of St. Clare I chose to imitate the original artwork and convey a sense of the protective love of God.  The visual vocabulary used to share this message, however, has been reexamined in my print.  According to contemporary biographers, when St. Clare died, Christ appeared above her bed and received her soul.  I chose a dove accepting a palm branch to convey this idea.  Also, the Virgin was thought to have been present easing Clare’s transition to heaven; I show her present in the half moon and the stars.  Many virgin martyrs were present in Clare’s last moment too: St. Catherine of Alexandria (the spiked wheel), St. Cecilia (wreath of roses), St. Barbara (tower), St. Dorothea (basket of flowers), St. Margaret (chained dragon), and St. Agnes of Rome (lamb).  The inclusion of flags and clouds suggests the presence of angels and the communion of saints respectfully.

St. Clare was born July 16, 1194 in Assisi, Italy and founded the Second Order of Poor Clares.  Pope Alexander IV canonized her on September 26, 1255.  She was an ardent follower of St. Francis of Assisi.

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