Painted by Joan Miró (1893-1983),
Painted in 1934,
gouache, brush and India ink and pencil on coloured paper laid down on board,
© Christie’s New York, 15 June 2020, lot 29, sold $212,500
Gaudete Sunday. Rejoice!
When all the people asked John, ‘What must we do?’ he answered, ‘If anyone has two tunics he must share with the man who has none, and the one with something to eat must do the same.’ There were tax collectors too who came for baptism, and these said to him, ‘Master, what must we do?’ He said to them, ‘Exact no more than your rate.’ Some soldiers asked him in their turn, ‘What about us? What must we do?’ He said to them, ‘No intimidation! No extortion! Be content with your pay!’
A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to think that John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, ‘I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fan is in his hand to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.’ As well as this, there were many other things he said to exhort the people and to announce the Good News to them.
Reflection on the Work on Paper
Today, the Third Sunday of Advent, is Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete! Rejoice! When you attend mass, you will see the priest wear rose-coloured vestments. The only other time these vestments are worn is on the Fourth Sunday of Lent (Lætáre, Ierúsalem, be joyful, Jerusalem!). The Church recognises that we as human beings cannot be penitent (Lent) for a long time or when we prepare (Advent) we need encouragement to keep us going . Living in expectancy and preparation during Advent and Lent, we need a boost mid-way to give us heart. So our time of preparation is given a ray of light amidst the penance that is part of our preparation.
What happens to colour when it is mixed with a ray of light or a brighter white colour? It becomes lighter in shade. Hence the penitential purple vestments our priests wear during Advent, mixed with white, become the pink you will see them wear today. The dark penitential violet is lightened to give us a joyful, Gaudete, pink or ‘rose’ for a day.
There are few artworks that have been executed in pink tonalities. Our work on paper by Juan Miró shows a rose background which he applied with his fingers. He said: “I often work with my fingers; I feel the need to dive into the physical reality of the ink, the pigment, I have to get smeared with it from head to foot”. Once the pink ground was applied, he then produced the various abstract forms that are almost dancing on the surface, using pencil, ink, gouache and oil paint. A real mixture of materials combined with almost calligraphic craftsmanship.
Before the 18th century, you will not find much pink being used by artists. Eighteenth-century fashion helped to popularise the shade, which became one of the very favourite colours for the frivolous, rococo pastel-loving European bourgeoisie. 'Pink' actually only entered the English language as a noun at the end of the 17th century. But on this third Sunday of Advent, we simply rejoice in this colour for the day…
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