Monday, March 28, 2011

The Virgin of Predestination

If you're in the area, feel free to attend a paper I'm delivering tomorrow entitled The Princeton Madonna:  Toward a Theological Interpretation of Byzantine Art.  Here's the abstract:

In the late nineteenth century, the President of what is now Princeton University, James McCosh, rightly suspected that one of his philosophy professors was veering from Calvinist orthodoxy. McCosh suggested the professor consider teaching art, resulting in Allan Marquand (1853-1924) becoming the first professor of art history in what is now the Department of Art and Archaeology. As Marquand built up the University’s art collection, he acquired a fifteenth century Cretan example of the Virgin of the Passion icon type. It became known as the Princeton Madonna, hailed as “the finest Byzantine painting in America.” After examining this icon type’s original Cypriot context, this paper argues that the Princeton Madonna contains unsuspected reserves of Byzantine theological understanding. Still hanging in the Art Museum today, the image offers a surprising solution to what may have been the locus of Allan Marquand’s doubt: The Calvinist doctrine of double predestination.

Details:  Tuesday, March 29, 2011 6:00 p.m., Scheide Caldwell House, Room 103, Program in Hellenic Studies, Princeton University.