Two Hearts Beat as One – An ‘Original Copy’ of the Sacred Heart of Jesus!

by David Clayton on August 18, 2011

The painting of the Sacred Heart shown is painted by the Virginia-based Catholic artist, Henry Wingate. The process by which it was commissioned and painted is worth recounting as it demonstrates a number of principles.

 Last February I was contacted several months ago by John Fitzpatrick, a seminarian at the Kenrick Seminary in St Louis, who has seen me speak there a couple of months before. He wanted to know if I could recommend an artist who produce a painting based upon his favourite image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus by the 19th century Mexican artist Jose Maria Ibarraran y Ponce. I recommended that he contacted Henry and passed on the contact details.

I had forgotten all about this until Henry arrived to teach at the summer Way of Beauty Atelier at Thomas More College in New Hampshire, this summer. He had with him the finished piece of work., which was put on show at the college for the duration of the class.

He told me about how it had worked: he wanted to do the commission but was adamant that if at all possible he wanted to work from the original. After a bit of research he found out that the original was owned by David Pappas, a collector who lives in Minnesota. He loves the image and was very happy to make it available for copying. So Henry flew out to Minnesota and copied it there. I show some photographs of the work in progress, next to the original.

I spoke to Mr Pappas who was delighted to have met Henry and to have been helpful in the project. He told me that he enjoyed meeting Henry very much. He told me a little bit about the original. As far as he knows this is the only extant work or the artist, who was the director of Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Mexico City around the turn of the last century. It was commissioned by members of the Miller brewing family, who were Catholics and devoted to the Sacred Heart and completed in 1896.

In my opinion it is a wonderful painting (the original is shown right). Although from the 19th century, it has a 17th century feel. The restraint in the use of colour and his careful control of focus is typical of the earlier period (as many NLM readers will have heard me describe before). Also, he has played down the features of the face by putting them partially in shadow. This way he has avoided that look of a portrait of the boy next door in historical costume (which we see in so much 19th-century and modern naturalistic sacred art).

This process emphasizes the importance of copying the works of Masters in the preservation and transmission of any tradition. Traditionally, the training of artists always included the copying (with understanding) of the works of Masters – Sargent for example, went to Madrid and copied every Velazquez he could see. This is not to devalue the end product. Just as the copying of icons allows for the creation of a new icon worthy of veneration, so Henry has created an work of art, itself worthy of veneration (once the name is placed on it, of course, in accordance with the theology of Theodore the Studite).

John Fitpatrick was delighted with the result: “I am very happy with the finished painting. I was interested in this project for reasons: I have a personal devotion to the Sacred Heart and this is my favourite image.  Ideally, the painting will hang somewhere in my living quarters when all’s said and done, maybe even adorning an altar.  

“I’m also very glad to hear you’re doing a piece on the commissioning process.” He told me. “I think clerics today–as well as laymen–don’t realize that direct commissioning of an artist to create worthy art for sacred use is even possible and so it is good for this to be made known. I also think it’s important to remember that it is through the commissioning of artists that all the great works of sacred art came about, but that they were not cheap; when commissioning artists, we have to be ready to bleed a little bit for the product.”  

High quality reproductions of the original are available from David Pappas at his gallery Strawberry Hill Ltd. Also, the original is for sale. Thomas More College of Liberal Arts is dedicated to the Sacred of Jesus and so if any readers feel inclined to buy it and donate it to the college, we would be happy to entertain approaches!

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Henry Wingate at work
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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna Muir February 4, 2012 at 2:43 am

I’m writing in hopes that maybe you may be able to help me? My husband and I clean out rentals for a property management company. Well cleaning out a house we came upon a painting on vortex glass in a plaster frame of Jesus sacred heart but we can’t read or I should say understand the writing of the painters signature. It looks like ” Fimar or Timar?’ We are wondering if you may know of an artist by that name or something close to it, so I can do some research on when this painting came out. I hope to hear from you soon and pray that I can get some help with this, thank you for your time and god bless :)

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David Clayton February 4, 2012 at 8:41 am

Dear Anna, how exciting to find such a painting. Unfortunately I am no help at all here – the name or one like it isn’t familiar to me, but that doesn’t really mean much. There are many artists I have never heard of. Other than to recommend waiting until Antiques Roadshow visits your town, I don’t know what to suggest. Sorry I can’t tell you more. Good luck.
David

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Jeannette Thomas May 19, 2013 at 7:46 pm

My brother came across art painting Scared Heart Of Jesus done on glass at lest over 50 year, artist name Tabateni wondering if you could help in any way
Thank You in advance,
Ms. Thomas

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David Clayton May 20, 2013 at 9:15 am

Dear Jeanette, I’m sorry I can’t help. I don’t know this artist. I think if I was investigating I would do the things that i’m guessing you have already tried, google etc. But you have piqued my curiosity…so off to google I go!
David

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Jessica December 11, 2013 at 11:48 am

Dear Mr. Clayton,
Please educate me as to what you are referring to in this statement from this post:

“Just as the copying of icons allows for the creation of a new icon worthy of veneration, so Henry has created an work of art, itself worthy of veneration (once the name is placed on it, of course, in accordance with the theology of Theodore the Studite).”

I came across you post whilst Googling (and Etsying, eBaying…) for a Sacred Heart picture since we just had our home Enthroned! I actually have this very reproduction (used) in my eBay cart, but am so happy to find the Strawberry Hill Gallery in order to perhaps buy a new one. After searching and searching and not finding any truly noble and beautiful Sacred Heart image (and even contemplating painting one myself); I’ve kept coming back to the Ibarraran. Thank you for posting this information.

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David Clayton December 11, 2013 at 10:22 pm

Dear Jessica, I’m not sure which part of that statement you would like me to explain? Perhaps it is that according the Catholic tradition, following on from Theodore the Studite in the 9th century, there are two conditions that make a sacred image worthy of veneration. One is that it bears the name of the saint pictured; and the other is that it captures the characteristics of the saint – these are the attributes that make him recognisable as that person which might be phsysical features such as the fact that St Paul as bald, or it might be articles associated with him eg the tongs containing burning coal for Isiah.

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Mary April 5, 2014 at 4:12 pm

I have this oil painting signed in gold writing by J. M. Ibarraran
Ponce.
Mexico, 1896.
+

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David Clayton April 7, 2014 at 8:23 am

Gosh – how interesting, thank you!

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jeanette April 15, 2014 at 3:45 am

The artist Henry Wingate has done a great job, I think it was important for him to see the original, as I should think he would like to study the original brushwork and techniques Jose Maria Ibarraran y Ponce had used to create the original; this would contribute to getting the “essence” of the original right if I can put it that way?
I greatly admire what he has achieved.

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