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To the Holy Trinity: Fruitfulness of the Arts

Once more with Bossuet’s Elevations on the Mysteries, 2,7:

I am a painter, a sculptor, an architect: I have my art, I have my design or my idea, I have the choice and the preference which I give to this idea by a particular love.  I have my art, I have my rules, my principles, which I reduce as much as I can to a first principle which is one and it is there where I am fruitful.  With this primitive rule and this fruitful principle which makes my art, I give birth outside of me a picture, a statue, an edifice which in its simplicity is the form, the original, the immaterial model of that which I execute in stone, marble, wood, on a canvas where  I arrange all colours.  I love this design, this idea, this son of my fruitful spirit and my inventive art.  And all this only makes me a sole painter, a sole sculptor, a sole architect: and all of this holds itself together and inseparably united in my spirit; and all this at its root, it is my spirit and has no other substance; and all this is equal and inseparable.  Which ever of the three which one takes, all comes from there; the first which is the art is not more perfect than the second which is the idea, neither the third which is the love.  Art produces one and the other; and one supposes that it exists, when he produces them.  One cannot say whether the beginning or the ending is more beautiful, or to be produced or to produce.  Art which is like the father is not more beautiful than the idea which is the son of the spirit; and the love which makes us love this beautiful work, is also as beautiful as it is; by their mutual relation each has the beauty of three.  And when it will be necessary to bring to light this painting or edifice, the art and the idea and the love come together equally, and in perfect unity, in a kind that this beautiful work feels the effects equally of art, idea, and love or the secret self-satisfaction which one will have for it.  All of this, although immaterial, is too imperfect and too base for God.  I do not dare make the application to him; but from there, helped by faith I raise myself and take my flight and this contemplate of that which God has placed in my soul, when he created him in his likeness, helps me to make my first try.


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