The Feeder Feed: Chicago Edition

This morning took me to the Chicago Art Institute. I was especially keep to see some Impressionists, but I started in chronological order in European paintings.

This is interesting. Here is something by Matteo di Giovanni (+1495), part of a series depicting the Dream of St. Jerome (1476).

You might recall that St. Jerome recounts a bad dream that he had. In this dream he himself before the Lord and Judge. Angels were scourging him, saying: “You aren’t a Christian, you’re a Ciceronian!!” He finds fault with ecclesiastics who find too keen a pleasure in the reading of Virgil (ep 25).

Moving on, here is an enclosed garden with the Virgin and various saints.   I like the birds.

This is from southern Germany from around 1505/15.

A fine robbin and jay.

And who is this that is so close the the Virgin’s head?  It looks like our old pal the Christological Goldfinch!

A painting of a reading cleric  by Martinus Rørbye (+1848).  In the upper right you see the artist added “Subicaco” as being the place where it was painted.

Speaking of clerics, we then went to have lunch.  Manny’s on the south side.

I was much consoled, since where I live there is a plentiful lack of good Chinese and good deli.   The pastrami wasn’t up to the standard of Pastrami Queen in Manhattan, but it was good.

You know you are in Chicago when there is a table for David Axelrod in the place.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. acardnal says:

    The “Axelrod” table . Please tell us you did not sit there! I am worried about contagion.

    Have you tried the famous Chicago style hot dogs yet?

  2. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    “You aren’t a Christian, you’re a Ciceronian!!” Well, okay, they have a point. Still, there are worse things to be, eh?

  3. Elizabeth D says:

    St Jerome is the best. I have a volume or two of his letters and remember that. The original provider of frank commentary and slavishly accurate translations.


    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  4. Muv says:

    Wonderful triptych, Fr. Z, but I think you might be a bit adrift with the birds. [Given what you write below, you supported just what I wrote above.]
    I’ve done some net surfing and found this photo of the triptych, which enlarges well.

    Text and enlarged photo

    Interestingly enough, the photo on the other blog shows the side panels the other way round.

    My best shot at the birds, from left to right as shown on the other blog, is as follows:-

    1. Bullfinch (definitely not a robin). I saw a very handsome one last week.

    2. Going by the colour and apparently crested head, a waxwing (definitely not a jay, which is at least three times the size of a bullfinch, mainly a pinkish tawny colour and has a long tail)

    3. Shrike

    4. Goldfinch

    5. Robin
    Note the tradition relating the red breast to the Precious Blood in the paragraph headed “Cultural Depictions”, so it would make sense that the goldfinch and equally Christological robin are either side of Our Lady and the Infant Jesus. I knew that the red breast was traditionally related to the Passion when I was a child, so it was nice to find it included in the wikipedia summary.

    6. Don’t know – too small to see.

    7. Great tit

    8. Well I don’t know, probably some sort of warbler. Try this one:-

    Goldfinches, robins and great tits are everywhere round here, bullfinches a little more unusual, and the only time I have seen a shrike was in Poland last year.

    Thank you for the bird spotting session!

  5. eymard says:

    On a post about Chicago, calling one a Ciceronian, to a native Windy Cityite, would conjure up Al Capone and his gang. Cicero was his stomping grounds (the first suburb to the southwest).

  6. Gail F says:

    Come on, Fr. Z, Elizabeth D deserves a gold star for that one!

    I love the composition of the painting of the reading cleric. The tiny landscape in the window in one corner, and the little arrangement of folded cloth in the opposite diagonal corner, with the man in the middle …

  7. Muv says:

    Good morning, Fr. Z.

    I have to confess that I am rather puzzled by your observation in red, because I am disagreeing with you. If you are looking at the birds on either side of St. Ursula’s head (your third picture), then to American eyes they will look like an American robin and a jay. Robins and jays in Europe are completely different birds, which is why I have given you links to pictures of bullfinches and waxwings to show birds that the artist would have been familiar with.

    The presence of the shrike alongside the goldfinch must also be a foreshadowing of the Passion. They are also known as butcher birds (worse still, in German it is a wurger, which can be translated as strangler) because they impale their prey of little birds, frogs, or lizards etc. on thorns or spikes. Add to this the fact that the shrike has his back to Our Lord and Our Lady, my theory is that he is there to represent the executioners.

    [Interesting about the shrike! Thanks for that.]

  8. Jack007 says:

    Elizabeth, that was a GOOD one! Very well played indeed!
    Jack in KC

  9. The Masked Chicken says:

    Elizabeth D,

    I can’t give you a gold star, but how about some bird seed?

    Gold Star
    Gold Star
    Gold Star

    That’s called Gold Star by acclamation!

    The Chicken

  10. Elizabeth D says:

    LOL, thanks, I would accept the bird seed. I have a parrot and he eats like a horse.

  11. dans0622 says:

    Maybe you can go a little farther south and have a procession or TLM at CTU.

  12. B Knotts says:

    Hopefully, while in Chicago, you get a chance to have an Italian Beef.

  13. Muv says:

    Good evening Fr. Z.

    Instalment three – I have been trying to fathom out the significance of the little brown bird on the right in the central panel. In the interests of symmetry, I thought that if the shrike represents the executioners, so might this little brown bird, which also has his back to Our Lord and Our Lady.

    The bird reminded me of a yellowhammer, but without the yellow, so like the plumage of a hen bird or juvenile. A yellowhammer in German is a goldhammer. The “h” in both languages seems to be an intruder, because the yellowhammer is a type of bunting, and the German for bunting is ammer, while the word hammer means the same in both languages. So I think the bird is a bunting (doesn’t matter what sort) and is there to represent the executioners by way of a pun.

    Just for interest, here is a link so you can see a picture of a yellowhammer perched alongside a pine bunting:-

    and on this page you can see a shrike’s handiwork with a lizard impaled on a tree:-

  14. pvmkmyer says:

    Father: In Chicago you should be ordering the corned beef, not the pastrami. My now-deceased New York aunt always claimed that the corned beef was better in Chicago than in New York – but not the pastrami.

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