Taken from Bruegel's series of "The World of Seven Virtues," the church-going scene in Faith is a slightly satirical take on those worshippers who, during Bruegel's time, sought to make direct connections with God without interference from the church. It is a crowded, almost energetic scene with a series of vignettes scattered throughout the composition. In the upper left, we see a baptism taking place; slightly lower, we see the rites of communion being given; in the background along the right margin, a marriage is taking place. Central to the work, Faith is portrayed as a nun surrounded by imagery of Christ and the Crucifixion.
According to H. Arthur Klein:
Faith, garbed like a nun, stands on the lid of the open tomb which contained the body of Jesus. All around her are the objects named in the Gospel story of the crucifixion of Jesus. On her head are the tablets of the Law of Moses, indicative of the Old Testament. In her hands she holds, and points to a passage in, a volume of the New…The immediacy of the dramatic story symbolized here suggests a different and more basic kind of Faith than the formal observances in the church environment elsewhere in the print. (120)
Created c. 1559, Faith was engraved by Philips Galle, based on an original drawing by Bruegel featuring the following inscription in the lower margin: FIDES MAXIMÈ Á NOBIS CONSERVANDA EST PRAECIPVE IN RELIGIONEM, | QVIA DEVS PRIOR ET POTENTIOR EST QVAN HOMO. (Above all we must keep faith, particularly in respect to religion, for God comes before all, and is mightier than man) . The signature of Bruegel is inscribed in cartouche in the lower right: 'Bruegel Inu' with FIDES (Faith) in the lower center, with 'Cock exc' in the lower left. Printed on paper with the High Crown, Narrow, with Cross & Star watermark from c.1520-40 (Br.4968 / M.31) , making this piece a rare, lifetime impression.
ABOUT THE FRAMING:
Set in an Italian style bronze and gold frame, the ribbon detailing of the moulding compliments the meandering curved shapes within the image. Decorative detail echo acanthus leaves which evoke a classical aura to the work. Completed with white, linen-wrapped mats with a matching gold inner fillet, Faith is set behind an archival Plexiglas® cover.