Monday, September 19, 2016

Francis Quirk and the Christian Faith

While researching Francis Quirk, we have been able to find out very little about him as a person.  On-line profiles list him as a Roman Catholic. In a review of the work that was going up for auction in Maine recently we were surprised to see several religious works. They may have been produced either for a church or in pursuit of a larger commission.  This provides us with an incentive to spend more time exploring houses of worship on the Maine seacoast.  Who knows what we will find? (Spiritual enlightenment could be a side benefit.)

The first is a sketch for a triptych, altarpiece or mural. It features a haloed Christ offering a blessing while flanked by two angels. On either side are six haloed figures- perhaps the disciples?
Francis J. Quirk image of Sketch of Christ and the Apostles for a mural or triptych
Sketch of Jesus and the Apostles by Francis J. Quirk

The next two are scenes from the Stations of the Cross. 

Image of Francis Quirk Painting "Fifth Station of the Cross" "Simone of Cyrene Helps Jesus to carry his cross" Painting by Francis J. Quirk
Stations of the Cross 5th Station- Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus to carry his cross. Painting by Francis J. Quirk

The first painting depicts the fifth Station of the Cross in which a carpenter ,Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his cross.  With the exception of the haloed Christ figure the other figures are in contemporary dress and localized it with an urban background including a golden dome. Notable features include a woman in the classic 60’s protest anti-war pose and the hand in the foreground.  Hands can be challenging to paint, so this may have been an opportunity to engage in an exercise or to demonstrate his skill.  Could it have a special meaning?

Image of Painting by "Francis J. Quirk" "Twelfth Station of the Cross"  "Jesus Dies on the Cross"
Stations of the Cross 12th Station Jesus Dies on the Cross    Painting by Francis J. Quirk

The second  is The 12th station in which Jesus Dies on the Cross. The scene has been localized to the Maine Coast with a lighthouse in the background and modernized with contemporary fashions including a businessman and a soldier. While it may have driven home a metaphor about his town and an outpost of the Roman Empire, it also may have raised a few eyebrows among more conservative parishioners at the time. For perspective, it was not uncommon at the time of the Viet Nam war for some people to vilify the military and sadly use insults such as the term “baby killer.” But, isn’t prodding thought part of what art is for?

The fourth is a pencil sketch for a work of Jesus meeting with the Fishermen. He tells them to cast their nets on the opposite side of the boat.  And they are rewarded with a bountiful catch. In this sketch he has again localized it by putting the fishermen in modern clothes and making the boats dories that were traditionally used for cod fishing.
Francis Quirk "Image of Christ and the Fisherman" sketch set in Maine by Francis J. Quirk
Sketch for painting of Christ and the Fisherman  by Francis J. Quirk

The sketch illustrates the thoughtful work Quirk put into laying out his paintings and positioning the figures. Christ is center in a position that foreshadows his eventual sacrificial death.

This image in the collection also struck our eye as a possible image of Jesus.However, we readily point out that Jesus probably did not use a pencil or pen.

"Image of Jesus" francis Quirk
Jesus? by Francis Quirk

The final work is a charcoal sketch of people praying in church. It includes people praying in the foreground and nuns in the rear.

"Francis Quirk" Image of Charcoal sketch of nuns and people praying in pews in Church
Charcoal sketch by Francis J. Quirk

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