The Venus Frajeelay, Italian Sculpture, 1689
For my special Christmas blog, I venture for the first time into the world of sculpture. Can there be anything in art that more clearly says Christmas than the Venus Frajeelay?
Signor Deup, one of Renaissance Italy’s most pious and inspired sculptors originally created an entire Venus. Her beauty proved too much for the Holy Catholic Church. She was first revealed in 1689 before the College of Cardinals; fully half of these saintly gentlemen immediately lost their sight as a result of her overwhelming beauty. (Hence Frajeelay, the Italian for “eye popper.”)
Angry church fathers forced Signor Deup to “cut her off at the thigh” refusing even to let him keep the other leg which had this thing in the calf to tell time. Despite the mutilation, the statue still glowed with such an inner radiance that a shade was manufactured for the top to protect the viewing public lest they put their eyes out.
The statue vanished in the late seventeen hundreds, but for years it would suddenly and mysteriously reappear in the windows of known wise men during the Christmas season. This strict association with wise men (scientists, writers, statesmen, puzzle solvers) lent further to its Christmas connection, and there are those who speculate the light at her top is actually a flicker of the Star of Bethlehem. Her spontaneous display in random windows continued all the way through the 1950s when the statue was apparently destroyed under suspicious circumstances. Mere photographs of the piece are all that remain. The photograph above was taken by an old Army man, a Major Anthony Ward. I thanked him for permission to use his photo and he graciously responded: “Glad you like it. No sweat. Major A. Ward, Ret.”
Anyway, that’s the way I heard it, and it will have to do.
And so for everyone who reads my little blog here I offer a toast of cheer and friendship. May the New Year be full of pleasure and prosperity for us all.