Skip to main content

Indoor feast for the loving, hungry soul

CAT 64 Wagner Feast for the Hungry Soul for Suderman 1620 BA 66.jpg

CAT 63. Hans Erhard Wagner. Indoor feast for the loving, hungry soul 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.

Without knowing its source, this could be taken for a simple domestic scene, the figure in the doorway bringing a new dish toward the table visibly prepared for the feast. The neck ruffs of the male and female couple suggest a condition of high social standing, whereas the espaliered branches in the background and the container of liquid in the foreground suggest a site of domestic grace, orderliness, and care. Although this engraving differs in social setting from those in CAT 60-62, it too was engraved for Sudermann’s 1620 Schöne ausserlesene Figuren und hohe Lehren. Sudermann’s text relates it not to the Song of Solomon but to texts by the German theologian and mystic Johannes Tauler (c. 1300-1361). In the opening inscription, Sudermann cites “A Lesson” from Tauler about “the loving and hungry soul” (“Ein Lehr das die liebhabende und hungerige Seel”). Sudermann’s verse meditation on this theme cites other passages from Tauler in its marginal annotations. This image differs considerably in subject, as well as style, from the images Wagner and van der Heyden engraved for Sudermann’s commentaries on the Song of Solomon; like some of the domestic scenes engraved by van der Heyden for the 1622 publication (CAT 50, 51), one would need Sudermann’s accompanying text (or a fragment of the same on the verso of the engraving) to know that its message was explicitly Christian.