St. Clement Striking the Rock

St. Clement Striking the Rock by Bernardino Fungai (1460-1516). York Art Gallery (UK)

According to the museum calaogue entry for this painting, Fungai "was born in Siena and was a puil of Benvenuto di Giovanni. His style shows an objectivity and linear hardness which comes from a fusion of the Sienese and Ferrarese influences" (21). The painting, which may have formed part of the predella the the artist's Coronation of the Virgin in Santa Maria dei Servi in Siena, depicts a miracle Clement performed after he was exiled to stone quarries after he refusing "to submit to Trajan and abandon his faith" — "Led by the Lamb of God, he relieved the people suffering from thirst by striking a nearby rock from which sprange a steam" (22).

One also should point out that Clement, who acts in a manner exactly parallel to Moses in the wilderness, functions therefore as a fulfillment of Moses's typological action and also as an odd sort of postfiguration of Christ — odd because most antitypes (or fulfillemnts) take the form of spiritualized versions of the initial action that prefigures Christ or his Church, but here Clement repeats the original physical action, thus making sacred history seem to work in cycles rather than in the usual Judaeo-Christian linear form. — George P. Landow


York Art Gallery Catalogue. 2 vols. York: City of York Art Gallery, 1961. No. 804

Victorian Painters

Last modified 21 January 2007