Madonna of Port Lligat (1950)

Although, I’m not a fan of the earlier work of Salvador Dali (having seen too many stickers of his art on the folders of angst-ridden teenage boys in the 70s- they all seemed to be fanatical lovers of the Doors and Lynard Skynard-I’m not sure the connection), I respond most to his work in film (‘Spellbound’ and ‘Porky Pig in Dodo land’) and his later Catholic work.

Virgin of Guadalupe 1959

At one time, a self-proclaimed atheist, Dali reconciled with his Catholic faith and became devout, espousing devotion to saints, daily prayer, sacrament of marriage, lifelong fidelity, Mariology, etc and saw these as being authentically revolutionary, especially in his later years when all of the above was anathema to the I, ME, MINE mindset (the horrors of WWII was also a factor in his conversion).

The Ecumenical Council 1960

Dali’s reconciliation with his faith caused a heated row with Andre Breton (who considered himself the spokesperson head of the surrealists and authored the Surrealist Manifesto). Breton insisted that a true surrealist HAD to be a practicing atheist and there was NO room for religion in the movement. Dali rightly saw Breton’s prerequisite as hypocritically transforming surrealism into a dogmatic religion. Famously, Dali left and eventually the movement collapsed while Dali persisted.

Christ of Saint John of the Cross 1951

For years, art historians and theologians criticized Dali’s later Catholic-themed work as kitsch. They were off. Dali had the pulse of that blue-collar Catholic surrealism. Now, his later work has been reassessed (imagine that). There’s a wonderful portrayal of him that captures his spirit in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris.

Assumption 1952

Crocifissione (1954)

Madonna 1943

Day of the Virgin 1947

God sends Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, 1964

Madonna of Port Lligat 1972

Microphysical Madonna 1954

The Ascension of Christ, 1958

The Sacrament of the Last Supper 1955

The Temptation of Saint Anthony’ (1946)

Corpuscular Madonna 1952

Cosmic Madonna 1958

I knew him in the breaking of bread, 1964

Madonna 1952

Madonna 1960

St. Helena of Port Lligat 1956

St. Jerome 1960

The Madonna and the Mystical Rose Salvador 1963

The Sacred Heart of Jesus 1962

Pieta 1982

Pieta 1982


Todd M. Coe's art for Brother Cobweb ©2015 Todd M Coe & Alfred Eaker

Todd M. Coe’s art for my upcoming novel: “Brother Cobweb.”

Brother Cobweb is a character I created at the age of seven, in a comic book, which I titled “The Brother Cobweb Chronicles.” Brother Cobweb was a response/revolt/private protest to what I considered my own personal horror of being forced to attend a Pentecostal church, along with growing up in a dumbed down and oppressive fundamentalist environment. I created that comic from volumes of sketchbooks I produced during endless church services (for eighteen years,  I literally taught myself how to draw during those charismatic anti-ritual rituals).It’s interesting then to see him become an actual horror exhibit in a huanted house attraction. As I used to say (spewing sarcasm) “Amen Brother Cobweb.”

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Todd M. Coe is one of those secret finds that is all too tempting to keep secret.

Todd’s animated shorts evoke the decade of the 1970’s, which  he is hopelessly in love with.  Drive-in commercials, exploitation, cheesy horror, 70’s adult  posters, variety show television specials, low budget spaghetti westerns, robots, the rock group Kiss, Aaron Spelling cop shows, feathered hair, plaid bell bottoms, and, of course animation are all manna from pop culture heaven for him.

From Todd on Carl the Mountain: “This is my friend, Carl… and he’s a mountain. He’s really cool too! But he’s got a slight problem that annoys him.
Anyways, since the eBook market is growing and I’m an illustrator/animator, why not embrace this new technology and have fun with it?”

TODD M COE %22888%22 FOR %22STATIONS%22

Todd could undoubtedly add a few thousand items from that decade to the list, such as one of his favorites (and the delightfully of it’s period) Paul Lynde Halloween Special ,with Donnie and Marie Osmond, Mrs. Brady, Witchie Poo and Billy Barty all trading groan worthy barbs with the inimitable and much missed Mr. Lynde. Todd discussed this perennial favorite in a series of emails and his enthusiasm was admittedly infectious.

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Alfred Eaker Paintings

Alfred EAKER 'Our Lady Of The Mermaids%22 oil on canvas © 2011 Alfred Eaker “Our Lady Of The Mermaids”©2011 is a 3 ft x 4 ft oil on canvas. Over the years, I have painted numerous Madonnas, born full grown from a painter’s brow, yet I feel it is this one alone, from 2011, in which my very personal tradition and theological tenets crystallized most lucidly. I have attempted, since then, to paint her again as I did here. Predictably, it has proven futile. Although, Our Lady wears a thousand different skin tones, a thousand names, and a thousand costumes, she stands uniquely untamed in this canvas. This is no Madonna, subjected to patriarchal erasure, no demure, chaste cabbage. Our Lady is imbued with wild sensuality, diaphanous compassion, and revolutionary divinity. She is our lush, boundlessly expansive sanctuary of fearless truth-telling; the fiery daughter of primal white goddesses and Sophianic Mother of the brown mermaids.

* Our Lady was chosen for the 2014 cover of Aurora Literary Magazine.


Alfred Eaker %22Annhilation%22 (Sufism. Meditation on Christ casting the money changers out of the temple) oil on canvas. ©2014 Alfred Eaker “Annihilation” is a 2014,  40 x 48 oil on canvas. It stems from Sufi meditation. “Christ casting the money changers out of the temple” is that figure’s moth to the flame moment. It is the only time we see the gospel figure losing his temper and it is this act, which gets him killed and inevitably transforms him. It is lack of love that Christ is responding to. Rather than the traditional depicted action narrative, usually attached to the subject, “Annihilation” is filtered through Le Pointe Vierge; the innermost secret heart.

ALFRED EAKER Prelude To A Day Of Wonder. Oil on canvas. © 2010 Alfred Eaker.

“Prelude To A Day Of Wonder” is a 2010, 36 x 48 oil on canvas. That it is a prelude is key. Pure,  emotional reaching… upward. A day of wonder is a day of attainment.ALFRED EAKER %22Annunication%22 oil on canvas © 2011 Alfred Eaker

“Annunciation” is a 2011, 3 ft x 5 ft oil on canvas, painted while I was in grad school seminary. It is the prologue to the Magnificat. The Marian figure is young, ethnic, sensually caught up in her mystical hour, manifested through the celestial visitor.   Alfred Eaker PIETA (2011) oil on canvas © 2011 Alfred Eaker

“Pieta” is one of numerous oil on canvases (3 ft x 5 ft) I have painted on the traditional subject. This interpretation is from 2011, and directly followed the above “Annunciation.” The same figure is aged approximately thirty years. Again, she is endowed in her Hour. Her Son, reduced to Corpus Christie, is being lifted to Her by John the beloved and Joseph of Arimathea.The author of the Beatitudes is clearly the son of the Magnificat’s author. In the gospel narrative, Christ cried out to His Father: “Why have you forsaken me?”  Father turned His face from Son. Yet, Mother faced Her son directly. As painful as it was, She did not look away. She did not forsake Him and wears a shirt of arrows for Him. Alfred Eaker %22Stations IV%22 Christ Meets His Mother On The Way To The Cross. oil on canvas 5 ft x 5 ft. ©2011 Alfred Eaker “Stations IV. Christ meets His Mother On The Way To The Cross” is a 2011 oil on canvas and on of six Station paintings. All are 5 ft x 5 ft. Again, I dispense of a narrative per se and channel the event through a purely emotional, almost musically mystical filter. This is a homage to the teachings of Fr. Justin Belitz. Alfred Eaker Barenboim conducts the Bruckner 7th . oil on canvas ©2014 Alfred Eaker “Barenboim conducts the Bruckner 7th” is a 2014, 3 ft x 4 ft oil on canvas. It is a reinterpretation from a sketch I made during a Chicago concert of that symphony, conducted by Daniel Barenboim in the 1990s. The 7th is the most personally mystical of Bruckner’s symphonic output. Barenboim is a pronounced romanticist and a visceral Brucknerian, shaping the composer’s intimate sanctuary. Alfred Eaker %22Pieta%22 oil on canvas © 2014 Alfred Eaker “Pieta” is a 58 x 48 oil on canvas from 2014. Revisiting the subject, I concentrated on the relationship between the Madonna and Her slain Son in a celestial, communal setting. Alfred Eaker Yellow Resurrection. oil on canvas. © 2008 Alfred Eaker

“Yellow Resurrection” is a 30 x 48 oil on canvas from 2008 and an entirely different variation of previous Pieta-like themes. My BlueMahler character serves as a narrator, composing an exotic interpretation of the Easter theme. Alfred Eaker %22Christ and the Woman at the well.%22 oil on canvas. © 2014 Alfred Eaker   “Christ and the Woman at the Well” is a 2014, 3 ft x 4 ft oil on canvas. It is painted in monochromatic hues. No water well is depicted. I forgo a narrative in favor of an emotional interaction. Although Christ is recognized as prophet, He learns from her. She teaches him her humanity and it is a vulnerable sharing. Alfred Eaker Escape to a Mysterious Freedom. oil on canvas. © 2007 alfred eaker

“Escape To A Mysterious Freedom” is one of several paintings inspired by my time in New Mexico. It is a 2007 oil on canvas and depicts a lone, female rider. It is a surreal variation of Gauguin’s Riders On The Beach. The woman is on a tension-filled promenade and the freedom which awaits her is an unknown one. I had read St. John of the Cross’ “Dark Night Of The Soul’ shortly before painting this and that certainly factored in. Alfred Eaker Prayer for a perilous descent. oil on canvas © 2007 alfred eaker

“Prayer For A Perilous Descent” is a 45 x 60, 2007 oil on canvas and companion piece to the previous painting. A family is depicted: A mother and father, shielding their children, through a perilous descent while Holy Mother prays for their safety. Alfred EAKER Blue Fugue oil on canvas © 2007 alfred eaker

“Blue Fugue” is another 2007 companion to “Escape To A Mysterious Freedom”  and is 3 ft x 4 ft. St. John Of the Cross and Gauguin inform the painting’s theme and milieu. A lone, male figure rides into a terrain of infinite shadows. DIGITAL CAMERA

“Passion of Perpetua and Felicity” is a  30 x 40, 2008 oil on canvas, taken from a gnostic text of martyrdom. It is a literal, narrative interpretation, but one saturated with paradoxical emotions, including divine eroticism. Alfred Eaker Married in the Faucet. oil on canvas. © 2007 alfred eaker

“Married In the Faucet” is a 3 ft x 4 ft 2007 canvas, named after a line from a poem by John M. Bennett (who acted in two of my films. He was Satan in “Jesus and her Gospel of Yes” and George H. Bush in “W.”) The BlueMahler character is depicted in an unconsummated marriage. DIGITAL CAMERA “Finger Paint Viscosity” is a 3 ft x 4 ft, 2007 oil on canvas, named after  Cheryl Townsend poem (Cheryl played Jesus in my “Jesus and her Gospel of Yes” film). BlueMahler conducts the non-narrative narrative (as he did in the film). Cheryl herself is depicted. Her form echoes the eroticism inherent in her words. There is an Alexander Scriabin-like insect quality to her sexed-up figure. * All paintings are for sale. For pricing, serious inquiries may contact us at:

2. Alfred Eaker Hay que caminar„ soñando ©Alfred Eaker 2013

“Hay que caminar, soñando “is a 40 x 60, 2013 oil on canvas, named after a musical composition by Luigi Nono, translated (roughly) as “Wanderer, there is no destination, but you must travel the road.”

1. Alfred Eaker Risonanze erranti (Resonances wandering) ©Alfred Eaker 2013


“Risonanze errant” (Resonances wandering) is a  x 33 x 52, oil on canvas from 2013, named after a musical composition by Luigi Nono.

5. Alfred Eaker Omaggio a Luigi Nono. ©Alfred Eaker 2013

“Omaggio a Luigi Nono” is a 3 ft x 3 ft oil on canvas, and homage to Luigi Nono.

4. Alfred Eaker Io, Frammento da Prometeo ©Alfred Eaker 2013

“Io, Frammento da Prometeo” is a 48 x 48, 2013 oil on canvas, named after a musical composition by Luigi Nono.


“Shifting Sanctuaries” is a 2009, 30 x 48 oil on canvas of the BlueMahler character.


“Fragments From a Crepuscular World” is a 30 x 48 oil on canvas from 2009.

ALFRED EAKER Self Portrait of the artist as a middle aged man c.2009 alfred eaker

“Self Portrait of the artist as a middle aged man” is a 3ft x 4 ft oil on canvas, from 2009.




“Without World” is a 4ft x 4 ft oil on canvas from 2009.

** A portion of all sales will go to the Franciscan Hermitage.

Stills from “STATIONS” ( our film in-progress)

STATIONS (Opening)Stations. Tristan Ross, Randy Cox and Alfred Eaker Lighthouse sceneStations.Randy Cox as James the LesserAlfred Eaker as Bluemahler as Thomas in Stations


All images copyright of Eaker Productions, llc.

© Eaker Productions 2014.

Written by Alfred Eaker and Wendy Collin Sorin. Additional poetry by John M. Bennett.

Directed by Alfred Eaker and J. Ross Eaker

Art director: Todd M. Coe

Additional art direction: J. Ross Eaker, Alfred Eaker and Wendy Collin Sorin.


Randy Cox as James the Lesser

Tristan Ross as James the Greater

Amy Petinella as Eve

Alfred Eaker as BlueMahler

James Mannan as Herod

Robin Panet as the witch

* This a work-in-progress, and expect its completion to be within approximately two years.




DVDs are for sale here…

and can be streamed on a computer, phone, tablet, or smart TV at…


Alfred Eaker and J Ross Eaker of Eaker Productions have produced and directed a documentary about Raymond Thunder-Sky. The film, now making the rounds with film festival review boards, documents Raymond’s life and influence through interviews with Cincinnati artists, co-workers, construction workers, and fans who knew him. The cumulative effect of the film is a portrait not just of Raymond as a man or artist, but as a cultural and spiritual figure who through the persistence of his art-making and brave exploration of his own aesthetic universe, and through the persistence of those his life touched, became a touchstone for what it means to be creative and alive.



Services at my mother’s Pentecostal church were frenzied and long, but there were unquestionable moments of inspired surrealism. From the late 1960s up until about 1980, I was allowed to take my drawing pad to her church and frequently sketched some of the impassioned chaos and performance art playing out before me.

In the early 1990s I found a couple of my childhood sketchpads and began a series of paintings from them. The first of these (and the best) was titled Brother Cobweb, after a comic strip I created on those wooden pews. Although my fictional preacher was not featured in the canvas, it contains Brother Cobweb’s essence and probably stems, in part, from a pronounced influence from Gauguin’s Primitivism.

David Dancing Before The Lord, and Healing Service depict the one time pastor of that parish. Glossolalia and Spiritual feature my mother caught up in charismatic moments. The Apocalyptic Sermon was based off a ho de ho diatribe, delivered by the original pastor (and father of the pastor in the previous paintings). I was intrigued even though it was decidedly not of my spiritual brand.

Proving the old maxim that there is nothing new under the sun, I took a small sketchpad with me to a series of Chicago Symphony Orchestra concerts I attended in the late 1990s.  Although I had found much identification in the music of Anton Bruckner, this was the first time I had actually been to a concert of his music, which was conducted by maestro Daniel Barenboim.

The later canvases depict the music of modernist Pierre Boulez , as conducted by himself and Barenboim. My application of Boulez’s kaleidoscopic palette of colors probably is the direct influence of the Blue Riders on my own work.

Although these are a small portion of the paintings from both periods, it is curious, in retrospect, to note that the more intimate compositions are of Barenboim’s Bruckner. Even Barenboim’s Boulez feels more immediately intimate than Boulez’s Boulez.

In personality, the Jewish, extrovert, phenomenally successful Barenboim stands in sharp contrast to the orthodox Catholic introvert Bruckner who struggled most of his life for even meager recognition. Yet, Barenboim located his identification plane in Bruckner’s efforts to erect the metaphoric temple. How authentically Barenboim conveys that can be debated between musicologists and armchair critics.

Attending the concerts, seeing Bruckner performed in the flesh, channeled through Barenboim’s personal, proselytizing zeal for the composer, I found the conducting attune to the expressive, earthy directness of the composition, as opposed to an enigmatic spirituality, which is another way to perform Bruckner, of course. In that sense, I felt Barenboim nailed an inherent, organic character found in Catholic art and expression. My own interpretation of  Catholicism is as an earthbound faith, optimistically grounded in humanity.

Belatedly, I sensed a connection between both groups of works that transcends the mere physicality of action drawing in a sketch pad or my subjective interpretation of what was playing out before my eyes. Of course, the two worlds are as far apart as can be imagined. I will quickly dismiss any proposed, erroneous conclusion that might be drawn from those who  feel Bruckner’s symphonies too long  (and therefore I was simply whittling away my time). Quite the reverse, I often find myself wanting Bruckner’s music to never end, while I almost always anxiously retreated from those charismatic church services. Therein lies a latent connection, perhaps.

When my grandfather introduced me to art and music, I felt this my desired state of nirvana. My exploration of both began very early and through those multifarious Pentecostal layers of heat strokes, feverishly pounding at me through the slaying in the spirit,  I unwittingly sought a nexus akin to what Bruckner’s music later, inexplicably provided. In the depth of my interior, I yearned for a sense of shifting sanctuaries.

Interestingly enough, Boulez later tackled Bruckner himself, which initially sent shock waves throughout the music industry. The avant-garde boogey man Boulez conducting Bruckner was seen as something amounting to a type of ideological treason. Yet, when his performance of the monumental 8th symphony was released, it received near universal critical accolades (Reportedly, Boulez consulted the seasoned Brucknerian Barenboim about which edition to use). Boulez’s Bruckner was hardly of the traditional school and the appeal of the results will naturally be dependent on subjective priorities. Aside from that, there remains enormous potential in the latent strangeness and lack of predictability in Boulez, late in career and life, engrossed in the Bruckner 8th.

My expressed observation of these services, separated by 20 years and vastly opposing aesthetics, is filtered through an admittedly idiosyncratic sensibility. In no way will I suggest that others came away with the same or even similar experiences.

©2014 Alfred Eaker

Brother Cobweb Eaker 1995Brother Cobweb © 1987 Alfred Eaker

Alfred Eaker %22Healing Service%22Healing Service ©1995 Alfred Eaker

Alfred Eaker %22Dancing before the Lord%22David Dancing Before The Lord ©1995 Alfred Eaker

Alfred Eaker %22Speaking in Tongues%22Glossolalia ©1996 Alfred Eaker

alfred eaker %22apocalyptic sermon%22Apocalyptic Sermon ©1996 Alfred Eaker

alfred eaker %22SPIRITUAL%22 (oil on canvas)Spiritual ©1996 Alfred Eaker

Barenboim in ChicagoBarenboim conducts Bruckner ©1998

DIGITAL CAMERABarenboim Conducts Bruckner II ©1998

DIGITAL CAMERABoulez in Chicago ©2000

Barenboim conducting Boulez in ChicagoBarenboim conducts Boulez in Chicago © 2000

©2014. Alfred Eaker

A Western Art Triptych

This triptych of western themed paintings followed time spent out west. More than that, they stem from my childhood love of the western, which is one of America’s greatest genres (along with jazz and baseball).

Saturday Night Roundup was one of my early childhood rituals. I possibly benefitted more from my father’s Christmas toy of an 8mm projector, even more than Dad did. Johnny Mack Brown westerns were my favorite, no small part due to the presence of Beth Marion.  With Tim McCoy and Ken Maynard also gracing our collection and a certified addiction to Paladin reruns, Gary Cooper and Randolph Scott, the western was an inimitable and inexplicable source of magic in my life. It was for that reason, I joined the minority of my peers in preferring Elvis to the Beatles. Elvis made westerns (Flaming Star-1960, being his best). The Beatles didn’t. Undoubtedly, the Beatles were superior artists, but Elvis had a golden voice, could belt out a gospel better than almost anyone (Mahalia Jackson excepted) and cut a too cool figure in jeans atop a horse.

The western paintings convey a type of sojourn, which I was not completely conscious of until after I had painted them.Perhaps the Adam and Eve myth is simply a metaphor for early childhood as a type of Eden we latently seek to regain. Everyone’s idea of Eden, of course, is different, and my sanctuary partly consisted of  that western mythology flickering across our otherwise drab white walls.

A. EAKER Blue Fugue c.2007 alfred eaker

Blue Fugue ©2007  Alfred Eaker

A. EAKER Prayer for a perilous descent c.2007 alfred eaker

Prayer For A Perilous Decent © 2007 Alfred Eaker

A. EAKER Escape to a Mysterious Freedom c.2007 alfred eaker

Escape To A Mysterious Freedom© 2007 Alfred Eaker


“Oh, I hate that man. He left his wife and children, was cruel to Van Gogh, and bedded down all those Tahitian girls. I just cannot look at his paintings.” This is a simple-minded, uninformed, dull, and predictable comment that I have little patience or tolerance for, and I have heard it countless times whenever I list Paul Gauguin among the painters I identify with aesthetically. Several films have been made about about Gauguin, yet none of them have caught his essence, at least until this documentary by Waldemar Januszczak. It is not a perfect film, but Gauguin is vividly present in it.

Donald Sutherland starred as Gauguin in the 1986 film Oviri, directed by Henning Carlson. In that film, the banker Gauguin and his wife, Matte, are on a Sunday horse and carriage ride with his co-workers and their wives. The financiers engage in shop talk while Gauguin broods. Finally, the frustrated painter taps the carriage driver on the shoulder and tells him to stop. Gauguin looks at his wife and peers and says, “You are my jailers.” With that, he jumps out of the carriage and walks off to find his paradise. A nice story but one that is a total fiction, buying into the painter’s mythology.

In actuality, Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), contrary to the repeated myths, was not a millionaire banker. He was a successful stock broker. He did not quit his job. The stock market crashed and he lost his job. Gauguin, who had been a “Sunday” painter for years, felt that this was reason enough to pursue painting full time, something he had been longing to do. It was with this that his wife left him. Gauguin did not desert his wife and five children. His wife rejected him after he lost his income as a stockbroker.

Art critic Waldemar Januszczak attempts to set the record straight. “What’s to like about this man?,” Januszczak asks. “First of all, there is the art, which needs no defense. Gauguin painted some of the world’s most alluring woman and put them into several of the world’s most gorgeous pictures, but what I really like about him is that he did it for big and noble reasons.” And then, most aptly, he says, “There is always more to a Gauguin than meets the eye.” Januszczak covers those “big and noble reasons,” but falls a little short in the “more than meets the eye” comment (more on that later).

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The 1956 Marc Chagall etching “Samuel Anointing Saul” depicts the last of the judges, the middle-aged Samuel, anointing the young Saul as Israel’s first king. This action, in the literary development of First Samuel, expresses a symbolic, narrative shifting of
sanctuaries for Israel. Yahweh’s people, rejecting the sons of Samuel, and thus rejecting the hereditary line of judges, ask for their first King. The Israelites desire what other nations have. They desire the sanctuary of strong, human leadership in a king. It is with this pivotal point in the drama of First Samuel that Israel’s mode of sanctuary shifts from the security of the prophetic leadership to the security of an earth-bound leadership.

Chagall’s etching is interesting in it’s expressive depiction. There is, of course, debate as to the actual age of Saul, ranging from a man in his early twenties to a middle-aged man of
forty. Naturally, such a debate potentially treats the character as an historical one. The degree of historicity is, wisely, not at all a concern to Chagall. The artist’s youthful depiction of the literary character, serves the work well. In representing the Saul figure as a youth, Chagall captures the inherent humility of the character in the scriptural text. “Is not my family the least of all the families from the tribe of Benjamin?”[1]Later,
after being anointed king, Saul returns home, as if nothing has happened, and
even neglects to tell his family of his kingship. The look on Saul’s face in the etching, as Samuel anoints him, captures the introverted essence of the character. Further emphasizing that inner quality, is the gesture of Saul’s hand, across his bosom. Samuel’s fatherly hand cups Saul’s hand, depicting an intimate admiration, on Samuel’s part, for the young Saul. Saul looks heavenward, feeling unworthy of this coronation.

Additionally, there is a milieu of pathos in Chagall’s work. This is pronounced in the expressive eyes of both Samuel and Saul. Samuel’s eyes are like a doe’s eyes. They are black, soft, and penetrating, seemingly foreshadowing the tension of his future relationship with the king. Saul’s humility is coupled with his feelings of insecurity.
Chagall seems to sympathize with both men in this visual interpretation and the
artist masterfully captures a fully emotional range, which is only hinted at in
the text. Knowledge of the unfolding narrative, after the anointing of Saul,
undoubtedly influenced Chagall’s interpretive choices.

The story of Saul’s anointing is one of the most uniquely edited in the whole of scripture. The narrator’s juxtaposition of Saul’s search for lost mules with Samuel’s searching for
Israel’s first king is strikingly compelling. Walter Brueggemann writes, “The pericope is destined to bring out Samuel’s capacity as seer and Saul’s slowness to comprehend the movement of history as it swirls around him. The two themes of kingship and asses play off each other masterfully.” [2] Chagall’s newly anointed Saul is drawn as a youth we can readily imagine as a man who feels perplexed as the movement of history swirls around him. Barbara Green poses an interesting question that adds to Chagall’s etching of Saul and to Saul’s portrait from the biblical text, “ What sense can we make of Saul’s
prominent hesitation to be king, his apparent squeamishness about handling both
approbation and opposition?” [3]

Later in the text, when instructing Samuel to chooses Saul’s successor, Yahweh tells Samuel, “ God does not see as human beings see; they look at appearances but Yahweh looks at the heart.”[4] Yet, oddly, Yahweh seems to look primarily at appearances in both the choosing of David and in the previous choosing of Saul because we are told that both are beautiful or handsome men. Chagall’s Saul personifies the notion of physical

Chagall’s etching captures the sublime, physical beauty of the narrative moment it depicts. Simultaneously, this work also expresses the deep, rudimentary emotions at play under the surface of the text. Chagall’s later works on the subject of Saul convey the tragic arch of the reign that followed Saul’s coronation. Saul’s sanctuary of an anonymous life at
home shifts to the total absence of sanctuary as the first king of Yahweh’s people.

[1] The New
Jerusalem Bible: First Samuel
.  New
York: Doubleday, 1990.

[2] Brueggemann,
Walter. First and Second Samuel. Louisville: John Knox Press, 1990.p.73

[3] Green, Barbara. King Saul’s Asking. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1989.p.43

[4] The New
Jerusalem Bible: First Samuel
.  New
York: Doubleday, 1990.