Images > Soul Battles

Psychomachia
ink and watercolor on calfskin vellum
2017
Psychomachia
ink and watercolor on calfskin vellum
2017
Psychomachia, Combat 1
ink and watercolor on vellum
2017
Psychomachia, Combat 2
ink and watercolor on calfskin vellum
2017
Psychomachia, Combat 2
ink and watercolor on calfskin vellum
2017
Psychomachia, Combat 5
ink and watercolor on calfskin vellum
2017
Psychomachia, Combat 5 (detail)
ink and watercolor on calfskin vellum
2017
Psychomachia, Combat 6
ink and watercolor on calfskin vellum
2017
Psychomachia, Combat 6 (detail)
ink and watercolor on calfskin vellum
2017
Psychomachia, Combat 7
ink and watercolor on calfskin vellum
2017
Psychomachia, Combat 7 (detail)
ink and watercolor on calfskin vellum
2017
Psychomachia, Combat 8
ink and watercolor on calfskin vellum
2017
Psychomachia, Combat 8 (detail)
ink and watercolor on calfskin vellum
2017
Psychomachia, Combat 9
ink and watercolor on calfskin vellum
2017
Psychomachia, Combat 9 (detail)
ink and watercolor on calfskin vellum (with backlighting)
2017

The Psychomachia, is a fourth century text by Prudentius, in which the Virtues and Vices battle over man's soul. These ‘soul battles’ are vividly depicted as nine combats in the medieval tradition. The Psychomachia was often illustrated with 'tinted drawings,' a specific form of manuscript illumination characterized by an inner luminosity, due to the translucency of the calfskin vellum surface and the spare handling of paint.

The medieval image cycle was a point of departure for these ink and watercolor paintings, rather than a slavishly copied source. These 'soul battles', like much of my other work, depict human beings engaged in the everyday struggles and torments of embodied existence.

In painting, emotional or metaphysical content necessarily takes plastic form; similarly, medieval writers and artists, through such allegories as the Psychomachia, gave vivid and specific physical form to spiritual attributes.

This project was funded by the MIT Council for the Arts and the Somerville Arts Council.