Wednesday, 4 March 2009
These two sheep, plump and sloping out of the wind as they head over the brow of the hill, are a wonderful shorthand for a bucolic life the people who commissioned this painting - closed order nuns - had probably never experienced. They adorn the back of a bench in the majolica-tiled cloister of Santa Chiara in Naples, the one with the martyrdom of Saint Catherine, in comic strip detail and sequence, on a neighbouring wall. Other images show carousing groups, dancing, and various other high jinks, which must have rubbed salt into monastic wounds. Or maybe not. The convent was, after all, in Naples.