Cantique des Cantiques Song of Songs
Pierre Boncompain Cantique des Cantiques Song of Songs
FRANKLIN BOWLES GALLERIES San Francisco | New York
Cantique des Cantiques | Song of Songs INTRODUCTION
everal very old holy and sacred texts collected together in a book “The Bible” or “The Ancient Testament” constitute the fundamental writings of Judeo-Christian tradition. It is amongst these books that the Song of Songs is to be found, considered to be a poetical book and a book of wisdom. It is attributed to King Solomon the Wise (970-931 BC) and it consists of a collection of poems and songs composed around a single celebration of one sole theme: the love between a man and a woman.
The first song evokes the intense expectations of the Beloved preparing to welcome her Beloved. It then evokes the extreme joy of the two lovers united, at last finding themselves face to face.
The second and third songs express a state of desire in the absence of the Beloved, once again far away; then the search for the absent one and at last his return home.
The fourth song celebrates the spouses’ intimate relationship. The joy in the outburst of their feelings, their happiness in unreserved mutual giving.
In the fifth song, they continue to celebrate their love, but then feel the anguish when one of the lovers leaves.
Then in the sixth and seventh songs, the lover returns. The man evokes the grace of his Beloved and once again they find themselves in their “Garden of Delights,” where they savor the wonder of their love.
Finally, in the epilogue they celebrate the everlastingness, the ardor and the force of love in harmony with the world.
In fact, the Song of Songs celebrates “the Art of loving body and soul.” An art of loving based on a free choice, mutual admiration, perfect equality in the reciprocal gift, in harmony with the elements of creation given to Mankind by the Divine Creator. There exists also a mystical reading of this poem. A metaphorical interpretation with the “Beloved husband” being God and the “Beloved wife,” the people of God. The love relationship between Yahweh and Israel— the often unfaithful wife, sometimes repudiated, then found again with joy, reconciled. For Christians, the allegory becomes that of the marriage of Christ to his church. Mystics (such as St. Thérèse d’Avila and St. John of the Cross) have seen there the marvelous and dramatic story of all souls open to the love of God. This book which in appearance is the most profane of holy books, has by its beauty moved even agnostic poets and has had an influence on amorous poetry throughout the centuries. It remains the most beautiful song of Love.
n the fall of 2017, Pierre Boncompain talked with University of San Francisco Art History Professor Emeritus, Jean Audigier, and answered questions about his interest in, and interpretation of, the Cantique des Cantiques / Song of Songs.
What drew you to this particular text?
What attracted me to this text is that it is a love poem: the first, the oldest, and the most beautiful. And I believe that each work of art, each painting, should be a declaration of love. Can you tell us a bit about your personal history with this subject that has been of great interest to you over many years?
One day I was contacted by an Italian publisher from Milan who commissioned me to illustrate The Song of Songs. Every two or three years, this publisher devoted himself to publishing a rare book with the only goal, not to make a profit, but to achieve excellence. He wanted to create unique books of great texts in order to call attention to works he considered treasures belonging to the patrimony of humanity. Other titles included Don Quixote, and from the Bible: Ecclesiastes and the Apocalypse. The publication of the Song of Songs was a superb achievement; a copy was offered to Pope John Paul II and is in the Vatican Library collection. Of course, I had to overcome my initial apprehension of measuring up to this project, but I took a leap of faith. Since then I’ve returned over and over again to the subject matter because it corresponds to my quest for harmony. It is a poem about desire, about love’s ceaseless movement. I love to come back to this golden age where men and animals lived in harmony in a Garden of Eden setting. Can you comment on the work of Marc Chagall and his interpretation of the Song of Songs? How do you see your own voice in context of his work?
Marc Chagall had a very unique relationship with the Bible. He is probably the most inspired and the most mystical of those who have used the Bible as subject matter; he has a kind of simple yet grandiose imagery. Like myself, Chagall completely explored the mystic element and it is there that one finds the unique quality of the Song of Songs, the pairing and contrast between a burning sensuality and spirituality. What is the overall message of the text for you?
For me the message I draw from the Song of Songs is a message of beauty. The calling of the artist is to exalt beauty, to create with it a path for humanity. Beauty leads us to love. How would you describe the mystical role of color in your work? Does it play a key role in the Song of Songs?
Of course the role of color is essential. Renoir used to say: “We must make things more beautiful.” Color is the angels’ trumpet and a primary means of creating that beauty. But perhaps Hans Hoffman said it best:
The whole world, as we apprehend it visually, is revealed to us by the intervention of the mystical world of color. All our being is nourished by this. Thus, this mystic quality of color must be expressed in the work of art.
Cantique des Cantiques 1 Oil on paper on canvas 57.5 x 45 in 146 x 114 cm
Kiss me, make me drunk with your kisses! Your sweet loving is better than wine. You are fragrant, you are myrrh and aloes. All the young women want you. 4
Cantique des Cantiques 10 Oil on paper on board 26 x 20 in 66 x 50 cm
You are beautiful, my king, and gentle. Wherever we lie our bed is green. Our roofbeams are cedar, our rafters fir. 5
Cantique des Cantiques 3 Oil on paper on canvas 44 x 57 in 112 x 145 cm
Do not see me only as dark: The sun has stared at me. My brothers were angry with me, they made me guard the vineyards. I have not guarded my own.
Cantique des Cantiques 4 Oil on paper on board 29 x 20 in 73 x 50 cm
Tell me, my only love, where do you pasture your sheep, Where will you let them rest in the heat of noon? Why should I lose my way among the flocks Of your companions?
Cantique des Cantiques 5 Oil on paper on board 20 x 26 in 50 x 66 cm
Loveliest of women, If you lose your way, follow in the tracks of the sheep, graze your goats in the shade of the shepherdsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; tents.
Cantique des Cantiques 7 Oil on paper on board 26 x 20 in 66 x 50 cm
Your cheekbones, those looped earrings, that string of beads at your throat! I will make you golden earrings with silver filigree.
Cantique des Cantiques 2 Oil on paper on canvas 46 x 35 116 x 89
I am dark, daughters of Jerusalem, and I am beautiful! Dark as the tents of Kedar, lavish as Solomonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tapestries 9
Cantique des Cantiques 6 Oil on paper on board 21 x 26 in 54 x 65 cm
My love, I dreamed of you as a mare, my very own, among Pharaohâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s chariots.
Cantique des Cantiques 8 Oil on paper on canvas 57.5 x 45 in 146 x 114 cm
My king lay down beside me and my fragrance wakened the night. All night between my breasts my love is a cluster of myrrh, a sheaf of henna blossoms in the vineyards of Ein Gedi. 11
Cantique des Cantiques 9 Ink drawing 26 x 20 in 66 x 50 cm
And you, my beloved, how beautiful you are! Your eyes are doves
Cantique des Cantiques 11 Oil on paper on board 26 x 20 in 66 x 50 cm
And my beloved among the young men is a branching apricot tree in the wood In that shade I have often lingered, tasting the fruit. 13
Cantique des Cantiques 12 Oil on paper on board 26 x 20 in 66 x 50 cm
Now he has brought me to the house of wine and his flag over me is love. Let me lie among vine blossoms in a bed of apricots! I am in the fever of love.
Cantique des Cantiques 13 Oil on paper on board 26 x 20 in 66 x 50 cm
Cantique des Cantiques 19 Oil on paper on board 26 x 20 in 66 x 50 cm
My beloved is mine and I am his. He feasts in a field of lilies. Before day breathes, before the shadows of night are gone, run away, my love! Be like a gazelle, a wild stag on the jagged mountains.
Cantique des Cantiques 16 Oil on paper on board 26 x 22 in 66 x 56 cm
And he calls to me: Hurry, my love, my friend, and come away! Look, winter is over, the rains are done, wildflowers spring up in the fields.
Cantique des Cantiques 14 Oil on paper on board 29 x 21 in 73 x 53 cm
My love is a gazelle, a wild stag. There he stands on the other side of our wall, gazing between the stones.
Cantique des Cantiques 15 Oil on paper on board 26 x 21 in 66 x 54 cm
The voice of my love: listen! bounding over the mountains toward me, across the hills.
Cantique des Cantiques 18 Oil on paper on board 26 x 20 in 66 x 50 cm
My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the shadow of the cliff, let me see you, all of you! Let me hear your voice, your delicious song. I love to look at you.
Cantique des Cantiques 17 Oil on paper on board 25.5 x 21 in 65 x 54 cm
Now is the time of the nightingale. In every meadow you hear the song of the turtledove. Hurry, my love, my friend come away. 19
Cantique des Cantiques 20 Oil on paper on board 20 x 26 in 50 x 66 cm
I must rise and go about the city, the narrow streets and squares, till I find my only love. I sought him everywhere but I could not find him. Then the watchmen found me as they went about the city. “Have you seen him? Have you seen the one I love?”
Cantique des Cantiques 21 Oil on paper on board 26 x 20 in 66 x 50 cm
I had just passed them when I found my only love. I held him, I would not let him go until I brought him to my mother’s house, into my mother’s room.
Cantique des Cantiques 22 Oil on paper on canvas 57.5 x 45 in 146 x 114 cm
Daughters of Jerusalem, swear to me by the gazelles, by the deer in the field, that you will never awaken love until it is ripe 21
Cantique des Cantiques 23 Ink drawing 26 x 20 in 65 x 50 cm
Cantique des Cantiques 27 Ink drawing 26 x 20 in 66 x 50 cm
Your teeth white ewes all alike, that come up fresh from the pond. A crimson ribbon your lipsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; how I listen for your voice! The curve of your cheek a pomegranate in the thicket of your hair. Your breasts are two fawns, twins of a gazelle, grazing in a field of lilies. Your are all beautiful my love, my perfect one.
Awake, north wind! O south wind, come, breathe upon my garden, let its spices stream out. Let my lover come into his garden and taste its delicious fruit.
Cantique des Cantiques 25 Oil on paper on board 26 x 20 in 66 x 50 cm
An enclosed garden is my sister, my bride, a hidden well, a sealed spring. Your branches are an orchard of pomegranate trees heavy with fruit, flowering henna and spikenard.
Cantique des Cantiques 26 Oil on paper on board 26 x 21 in 66 x 54 cm
You are a fountain in the garden, a well of living waters that stream from Lebanon.
Cantique des Cantiques 24 Oil on paper on board 26 x 20 in 66 x 50 cm
Oh come with me, my bride, come down with me from Lebanon. Look down from the peak of Amana, look down from Senir and Hermon, from the mountains of the leopards, the lionsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; dens.
Cantique des Cantiques 28 Oil on paper on board 26 x 20 in 66 x 50 cm
I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride, I have gathered my myrrh and my spices, I have eaten from the honeycomb, I have drunk the milk and the wine. Feast, friends and drink till you are drunk with love!
Cantique des Cantiques 29 Oil on paper on board 26 x 22 in 66 x 56 cm
I was asleep but my heart stayed awake. Listen! my lover knocking: â&#x20AC;&#x153;open, my sister, my friend, my dove, my perfect one! My hair is wet, drenched with the dew of night.â&#x20AC;?
Cantique des Cantiques 33 Oil on paper on board 20 x 25 in 50 x 64 cm
My beloved is milk and wine, he towers above ten thousand.
Cantique des Cantiques 31 Ink drawing 20 x 26 in 50 x 66 cm
I opened to my love but he had slipped away. How I wanted him when he spoke! I sought him everywhere but could not find him. I called his name but he did not answer. 27
Cantique des Cantiques 30 Oil on paper on board 26 x 20 in 66 x 50 cm
â&#x20AC;&#x153;But I have taken off my clothes, how can I dress again? I have bathed my feet, must I dirty them?â&#x20AC;? My love reached in for the latch and my heart beat wild.
Cantique des Cantiques 36 Oil on paper on canvas 39 x 32 in 100 x 81 cm
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Who is that rising like the morning star, clear as the moon, bright as the blazing sun, daunting as the stars in their courses!â&#x20AC;? 29
Cantique des Cantiques 34 Oil on paper on board 26 x 22 in 66 x 56 cm
His eyes like doves by the rivers of milk and plenty. His cheeks a bed of spices, a treasure of precious scents, his lips red lilies wet with myrrh. 30
Cantique des Cantiques 35 Oil on paper on board 26 x 20 in 66 x 50 cm
One alone is my dove, my perfect, my only one, love of her mother, light of her motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s eyes.
Cantique des Cantiques 32 Oil on paper on board 26 x 20 in 66 x 50 cm
Swear to me, daughters of Jerusalem! If you find him now you must tell him I am in the fever of love.
Cantique des Cantiques 37 Oil on paper on canvas 57.5 x 45 in 146 x 114 cm
Then I went down to the walnut grove to see the new green by the brook, to see if the vine had budded, if the pomegranate trees were in flower. 32
Cantique des Cantiques 38 Oil on paper on board 26 x 22 in 66 x 56 cm
Again, O Shulamite, dance again, that we may watch you dancing! Why do you gaze at the Shulamite as she whirls down the rows of dancers?
Cantique des Cantiques 39 Oil on paper on board 26 x 20 in 66 x 50 cm
How graceful your steps in those sandals, O noblemanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s daughter. The gold of your thigh shaped by a master craftsman.
Cantique des Cantiques 40 Oil on paper on board 26 x 21 in 66 x 54 cm
Cantique des Cantiques 41 Oil on paper on board 26 x 20 in 66 x 50 cm
Your navel is the moonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bright drinking cup. May it brim with wine! Your belly is a mound of wheat edged with lilies. Your breasts are two fawns, twins of a gazelle.
How wonderful you are, O Love, how much sweeter than all other pleasures!
Cantique des Cantiques 42 Oil on paper on board 26 x 20 in 66 x 50 cm
That day you seemed to me a tall palm tree and your breasts the clusters of its fruit.
Cantique des Cantiques 43 Oil on paper on board 26 x 22 in 66 x 56 cm
I said in my heart, Let me climb into that palm tree and take hold of its branches. And oh, may your breasts be like clusters of grapes on a vine, the scent of your breath like apricots, Your mouth good wine.
Cantique des Cantiques 44 Oil on paper on board 25 x 20 in 64 x 50 cm
Come, my beloved let us go out into the fields and lie all night among the flowering henna.
Cantique des Cantiques 46 Oil on paper on board 26 x 20 in 66 x 50 cm
The air is filled with the scent of mandrakes and at our doors rare fruit of every kind, my love, I have stored away for you.
Cantique des Cantiques 45 Oil on paper on canvas 46 x 35 in 116 x 89 cm
Let us go early to the vineyards to see if the vine has budded, if the blossoms have opened and the pomegranate is in flower. There I will give you my love. 37
Cantique des Cantiques 51 Oil on paper on board 20 x 26 in 50 x 66 cm
We have a little sister and she has no breasts. What shall we do for our sister when suitors besiege her? If she is a wall, we will build a silver turret upon her. If she is a door, we will bolt her with beams of cedarwood.
Cantique des Cantiques 52 Oil on paper on board 20 x 26 in 50 x 66 cm
I am a wall and my breasts are towers. But for my lover I am a city of peace.
Cantique des Cantiques 50 Oil on paper on board 26 x 20 in 66 x 49 cm
Bind me as a seal upon your heart, a sign upon your arm, for love is as fierce as death, its jealousy bitter as the grave. Even its sparks are a raging fire, a devouring flame.
Cantique des Cantiques 47 Oil on paper on board 26 x 21 66 x 54
If only you were a brother who nursed at my motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s breast! I would kiss you in the streets and no one would scorn me.
Cantique des Cantiques 54 Oil on paper on board 26 x 20 in 66 x 50 cm
Hurry, my love! Run away, my gazelle, my wild stag on the hills of cinnamon. 40
Cantique des Cantiques 53 Oil on paper on board 22 x 26 in 56 x 66 cm
O woman in the garden, all our friends listen for your voice. Let me hear it now.
Cantique des Cantiques 49 Ink drawing 20 x 26 50 x 66
There, beneath the apricot tree, your mother conceived you, There you were born. In that very place, I awakened you.
Cantique des Cantiques 48 Oil on paper on board 26 x 20 66 x 50
His left hand beneath my head, his right arm holding me close 42
Cantique des Cantiques 55 Oil on paper on canvas 57.5 x 45 in 146 x 114 cm
Cantique des Cantiques 1
Comme tes étreintes sont agréables, ma soeur, ma fiancée
Cantique des Cantiques 2
Je dors mais mon coeur veille
Cantique des Cantiques 3
Nu à la grappe
Cantique des Cantiques 4
Dis moi toi que mon coeur aime, où mènes tu ton troupeau
Cantique des Cantiques 5
La plus belle des femmes suit la trace des troupeaux I
Cantique des Cantiques 6
Porteur de branche
Cantique des Cantiques 7
Ne réveillez pas ma bien aimée II
Cantique des Cantiques 8
Tandis que mon roi se repose mon nard exhale son parfum
Cantique des Cantiques 9
L’unique c’est ma colombe
Cantique des Cantiques 10
Les poutres de notre palais sont de cèdre
Cantique des Cantiques 11
Qu’il me baise d’un baiser de sa bouche
Cantique des Cantiques 12
Je suis entrée dans mon jardin
Cantique des Cantiques 13
Je te réveille sous le pommier
Cantique des Cantiques 14
Mon bien aimé est descendu dans mon jardin pour faire paitre ses troupeaux
Cantique des Cantiques 15
Voici qu’il vient gambadant parmi les monts, franchissant les collines
Cantique des Cantiques 16
Quelle est donc celle-ci qui surgit comme l’aurore, éclatante comme un soleil
Cantique des Cantiques 17
Le murmure de la tourterelle a été entendu dans nos champs
Cantique des Cantiques 18
Tes deux seins sont comme deux tourterelles jumelles
Cantique des Cantiques 19
La plus belle des femmes suit la trace des troupeaux II
20 Cantique des Cantiques 20
Je suis entrée dans mon jardin, j’ai cueilli ma myrrhe et mon baume
20 Cantique des Cantiques 21
Danse de la Sulamite
Cantique des Cantiques 22
Les troupeaux de chèvres ondulent sur les flancs de Galaad
Cantique des Cantiques 23
L’hiver est fini, les fleurs germent sur notre terre
Cantique des Cantiques 24
Avant que le jour fraichisse et que les ombres s’inclinent,
je me dirigerai vers les collines de la myrrhe et del’encens
Cantique des Cantiques 25
Tu es un bosquet rempli de grenadiers
Cantique des Cantiques 26
Les grandes eaux ne sauraient éteindre l’amour
Cantique des Cantiques 27
Soufflez dans mon jardin, aquilon, pour que les parfums se répandent
Cantique des Cantiques 28
Qu’elle est donc celle qui surgit comme l’aurore
Cantique des Cantiques 29
Plage aux coquillages
28 Cantique des Cantiques 30 27
Cantique des Cantiques 31
J’ai ôté ma tunique, j’ai lavé mes pieds Avant que le jour fraichisse, je me dirigerai vers les collines de la myrrhe et de l’encens
Cantique des Cantiques 32
L’hiver est fini, les fleurs germent sur notre terre
26 Cantique des Cantiques 33
Je me suis reposée à l’ombre de celui que je désire
30 Cantique des Cantiques 34
Les grandes eaux ne sauraient éteindre l’amour, tu es la fontaine de ce jardin,
les sources d’eau vive qui coulent du Liban
Cantique des Cantiques 35
29 Cantique des Cantiques 36
L’unique c’est ma colombe, mon immaculée, elle est unique Je suis entrée dans mon jardin
Cantique des Cantiques 37
Je te réveille sous le pommier
Cantique des Cantiques 38
De grâce, tourne toi Sulamite, tourne toi pour que nous te contemplions
Cantique des Cantiques 39
Pourquoi regardez vous la Sulamite laquelle danse parmi les choeurs
34 Cantique des Cantiques 40 Que tu es belle mon amie, tes yeux sont des yeux de colombe 34 Cantique des Cantiques 41
L’unique c’est ma colombe, mon immaculée
Cantique des Cantiques 42
Tellement svelte comme un panier
Cantique des Cantiques 43
Je me suis dit, je monterai au palmier, je mangerai ses fruits
36 Cantique des Cantiques 44 Soufflez dans mon jardin aquilon, pour que les parfums se répandent 37
Cantique des Cantiques 45
Donnez-Moi des fruits pour me fortifier, car je meurs d’amour
36 Cantique des Cantiques 46
Je te réveille sous le pommier là où ta mère te mit au monde
39 Cantique des Cantiques 47
Pourquoi n’es tu pas mon frère, pourquoi n’as tu pas sucé le sein
de ma mère je pourrais ainsi l’embrasser
Cantique des Cantiques 48
Je te ferai boire du vin aromatisé du jus de mes grenades
Cantique des Cantiques 49
Donnez-Moi des fruits pour me fortifier car je meurs d’amour
39 Cantique des Cantiques 50
Tes caresses parlent mieux que le vin, que les filles ont raison de t’aimer
38 Cantique des Cantiques 51
Je dors mais mon coeur veille
38 Cantique des Cantiques 52
Ne réveillez pas ma bien aimée II
Cantique des Cantiques 53
Je suis descendu dans le verger pour voir si les grenades sont en fleurs
40 Cantique des Cantiques 54
Mon bien aimé fait paitre ses troupeaux
43 Cantique des Cantiques 55
Le bien aimé et la bien aimée
Winter 2018 PROJECT MANAGER:
Front cover: Cantique 53, Je suis descendu dans le verger voir si les grenades sont en fleurs(detail) Inside front cover: Cantique 29, Plage aux coquillages (detail) Page 44: Cantique 27, Soufflez dans mon jardin, aquilon, pour que les parfums se répandent (detail) Back cover: Cantique 22, Les troupeaux de chèvres ondulent
sur les flancs de Galaad
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