A Monumental Cross in the Medieval Italo-Byzantine Style by Martin Earle

Martin Earle is one of the more talented liturgical artists operating today as far as I am concerned, and he is certainly not new to many of our readers as we have featured him here before. For those who many not be familiar with him, however, Earle is based out of the United Kingdom and his work is firmly set within the tradition of the First Millennium, showing influences that range from paleochristian, to Byzantine and Medieval Latin. Earle himself apprenticed under the English Orthodox iconographer, Aidan Hart -- and certainly that stylistic influence is also tangible in Martin's work (which I am certain he will receive as the compliment that it is intended to be). 

Of particular interest to me are his medieval, Italian style crucifixes -- a style of painted cross that can be found all over Italy, though especially Tuscany. As such, one of his recent commissions certainly caught my attention, being one made for St. Francis' Catholic Church in Baddesley, Clinton. 

This particular cross is approximately five feet in height and four feet wide, painted in tempera on Tulipwood in beautiful tones of blue and red. It contains typical imagery -- though I'd invite you to take a very close look at the style; a style which mixes elements both Latin and Byzantine -- beginning with Christ crucified and Our Lady and St. John to either side of Him at the foot of the cross:

Two archangels are likewise found on the outer edge of each arm of the cross:

Finally, the base of the cross contains the image of two deer drinking from streams -- an oft repeated motif in Christian art that takes its imagery from the Psalm 41/42: "As the deer yearns for flowing streams, so my soul thirst for Thee, O God."   It also takes its imagery from the Book of Genesis with its mention of the four rivers of paradise; rivers which were said to flow to the four corners of the Earth. Of course, this is also to be viewed typologically as a reference to Christ and the Four Gospels, which were also to be preached unto the four corners of the Earth. 

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