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Female beloved in mystical consummation

CAT 63 Wagner Mystical Consummation Song of Solomon for Sudermann 1620 BA 65.jpg

CAT 62. Hans Erhard Wagner. Female beloved in mystical consummation in Daniel Sudermann, Schöne ausserlesene Figuren und hohe Lehren von der Begnadeten Liebhabenden Seele. Strasbourg: Jacob van der Heyden, c. 1620. Melville Memorial Room, Berkshire Athenaeum.

The female beloved is now herself transported into the heart of the halo, the only vestige of the material world being the thinnest of vestments visible just above her knees, and sleeves at the elbows. Her hair is now radiant in its full glory, in a melting sunflower shape that spreads into the wave-like motion of a heavenly space at once expanding and contracting in an immaterial, spiritual ecstasy. Here the female beloved from the Song of Solomon, her hands praying in holy meditation, embodies the fulfillment of the “mystic burden” that was “hid” in the text until Bernard and other monks had “unrolled” it during the twelfth century (to again borrow words from Melville’s “Prodigal” canto in 1876).

Wagner here continues the effect of the dark black surf, on each side of the image, beating against the waves of white light, light that carries the pulse of the irradiated spirit. Visually the effect is somewhat similar to that of the “bright gildings” surrounding the capital letter D in CAT 25 from the 1728 Tafeleren—except that here we have the female beloved rather than the letters “YHWH” at the center of the vision. The treatment of the waves in space somewhat resembles that of van der Heyden in the allegorical coda to Sudermann’s 1622 treatise in CAT 59, but there those waves are transporting the female beloved into a mystical communion; here the enraptured female herself is alone at the center of it all.

Sudermann’s commentary for this image indicates that the believing soul is now spiritually joined with her God the creator, and with Christ her beloved. Again the marginal citations with which he annotates his commentary include a variety of Biblical sources (Genesis, Exodus, Job, Jacob, Canticle 4, etc.) but the citation alongside the opening lines of the commentary beneath the image refers to Meister Eckhart, whom Sudermann quotes at length at the bottom of the leaf.