I received this note from the well-known Catholic artist Daniel Mitsui:
Dear Father Zuhlsdorf:
Could you do me the favor of letting your readers know about a special Christmas auction of one of my original drawings that is being done to benefit the sacred music program at St. John Cantius Church in Chicago?
The auction is being processed through eBay, HERE.
The drawing is an original, colored ink on calfskin vellum.
I am also allowing the parish to sell prints of this work, HERE.
All of the proceeds from these sales will go to help fund the music program at the parish (the drawing and the license for the prints are a personal tithe/donation to the parish).
P.S. Here follows a complete description of the work:
This original ink drawing of Christ’s Nativity was created by artist Daniel Mitsui. It will be auctioned to raise funds for the sacred music program at St. John Cantius Church.
It measures 8″ x 10″ and was made with colored inks on calfskin vellum. It is formatted as a page from a Biblia Pauperum.
The Biblia Pauperum (Bible of the Poor) is collection of illustrated typologies that circulated both in illuminated manuscripts and in blockbooks during the late Middle Ages. Each page of the book shows a particular event from the life of Christ, juxtaposed with two events from the Old Testament prefiguring it. The pictures are paired with rhymed Latin versicles and short expalnations. Four prophets are also included, each holding a banderole with his prophecy of the event.
For the Nativity of Our Lard, the two prefigurements are Moses before the Burning Bush, and the Flowering of Aaron’s Rod. The text, translated, reads:
Without pain thou givest birth, Virgin Mary (Star) of the Sea.
It glows and kindles, but the bush is not burned by fire.
We read in the Book of Exodus, chapter 3, that Moses saw a bush burning, and it did not burn up, and he heard the Lord speaking to him from the bush. The burning bush which is not consumed figures the Blessed Virgin Mary giving birth without corruption of her bodily integrity, because a virgin she gave birth and remained uncorrupted.
This is contrary to custom: a little rod bears a flower.
We read in the Book of Numbers, chapter 17, that the rod of Aaron one night leafed and bore blossoms, which rod figured the pure Virgin Mary who was to give birth without male seed to a Son, that is, Jesus Christ ever Blessed.
The prophecies are as follow:
Daniel: A cornerstone was cut out of a mountain without hands.
Isaiah: A child is born unto us, and a son is given to us.
Habacuc: O Lord, I have heard Thy hearing and was afraid.
Micah: Thou Bethlehem the land of Juda shall not be the least among the princes of Juda.
The artwork was inspired by various illuminated manuscripts, blockbooks, tapestries and panel paintings of the late Middle Ages, most obviously the Nativity panel from the 14th century Vyššì Brod altarpiece. The background ornament is composed of tiny plants and animals, and was inspired by 15th century millefleur tapestries.
Open-edition giclée prints of this drawing are also available for $80 each. Each print is signed in pencil by the artist. Giclée prints are made on a spray-jet printer from a high-resolution digital scan or photograph. Hahnemühle German Etching paper is the substrate.
Daniel Mitsui is an artist specializing in meticulously detailed ink drawings, done entirely by hand on paper or parchment. His work is especially inspired by the religious art of the Middle Ages. He lives in Chicago with his wife and two sons, and is a parishioner at St. John Cantius Church. More of his work can be seen at www.danielmitsui.com