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Current time:0:00Total duration:4:33

Pierre Le Gros the Younger, Stanislas Kostka on his Deathbed

Video transcript

go upstairs into the rooms of the novitiate that is for the novices who are joining the Jesuit Order now in the 1500s this was a new order of religion founded by Ignatius Loyola died in 1556 we've stumbled into a room it's almost an act of shock certainly surprised to see what appears to be a young man on his death bed in fact sometimes in the gloom entering this room you really think that somebody's in front of you lying on a couch a sort of daybed and this is Stanislaus Kostka he's a young polish novice of the Jesuit Order he died only aged 18 and he bore his terrible illness of great humility and strength and died with a vision of the Virgin Mary before him this was made before he was officially declared a saint this was made in 1703 what we see is a very richly carved and very detailed statue of a young man lying very naturalistically on a bed now everything is color here it's all made of stone but we have Sicilian Jasper we have sort of ochre colored marble we have a deep black stone marble for the clothing that he wears because he's a member to be of the Jesuit Order wearing black and white pillars and of course the flesh is done in white marble he's holding and a crucifix and he would have originally had a halo which would have picked up that sense of yellow and gold even more and as I said he's naturalistic he's not lying as if he has died and we're watching a lying in state here he is still alive or he's in the in the moment of passing and this was something that fascinated baroque artists Bernini who had died by the time this was done was really one of the pioneers in showing the transition the Trapasso as it was called from life to death those moments that you go from the earthly to the spiritual from from life to death but death is a comforting eternal thing to look for this is very intimate and that's why it has shocked in a good way so many visitors who into this room it's a very intimate spaces it's the quiet side of the baroque baroque doesn't necessarily mean loud life-size it's as if we are attending personally to this young man's death and this was part of the art of the Jesuit persuasiveness of the artists persuasion through example through art again through readings of course as well you are brought close to what matters about the passing from life to death they were in this case humility an absolute unshakable faith and the realism of this is just so moving and upsetting in a way the the way that he lifts his arm up to hold this framed image of the Virgin and clasps with his other hand the rosary and the cross it's that that moment of you know something happening in front of you in front of that we could reach out and touch there's no in the 18th I think in the 19th century there was a railing around it because they didn't want people touching it now it's a matter of trust we're not we're not touching but we could just stretching out my oh my I practically shake his hand the crucifix is a separate carved object and the rosary is a real rosary but if you look closely details such as the eyes and the nails of his fingers and toenails are carefully in size so this is a very detailed worth of art while the the flow of the drapery and the bed itself is a slightly more dramatic and loosely cut and I think that that's right this is a work of art that's meant to be seen up close and I was really struck by the the thinness of the cloth as its represented of his undershirt of the collar and of that cloth and just the way in which it's it's not different from the collar that I'm wearing and then so there was this kind of immediacy the pioneer in that sense had also been a Bernini but we do feel privileged in that where this is a very private moment that we're given access to yes and it's so interesting because during this moment during the Baroque you have the grandeur you have the operatic and then you also have this sweetness and this intimacy and this really sort of internal experience but it's not a conflict it's a spectrum of experience and exactly a spectrum it's arranged like an ordinary life that can go from quiet to loud and then back to quiet from intimate to public