The “Ion Jalea” Museum

Nicolae Grigorescu, Flori de nalbă, ulei pe carton, 300 x 170

„St. Peter and St. Paul”

Plaster, 226 x 56 x 40 cm

Plaster, 227 x 52 x 40 cm

Ion JALEA (1887–1983)

These two sculptures are made in patinated plaster and they represent two of the apostles of Christianity. These are part of the series of compositions with religious themes, which the artist approached especially in the first period of his creation. Shimon Bar-Yona, known as Saint Peter or the Apostle Peter, was a Jewish fisherman from Bethsaida (locality on the northern shore of Lake Gennesaret, in Israel), who lived between 1 BC / 1 AD – 67 AD and who became one of the first disciples of Jesus of Nazareth. According to the biblical text, Jesus called him the “stone” on which he would build his Church, which translated into Latin became Petrus, and entrusted him with the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. The apostle Peter is considered one of the twelve apostles who accompanied Jesus and the elder brother of the apostle Andrew. Catholic tradition considers him the founder of the Papacy, the first Pope in Rome, where he became the leader of the Judeo-Christian community and where he suffered martyrdom. Ion Jalea represented the Apostle Peter standing, dressed in a long garment with folds covering his body in a manner reminiscent of Byzantine art, with arms crossed, his gaze fixed as if towards the heavens and holding a key in his right hand.

Saint Paul was born in Tarsus, a city in the province of Mersin, in the south of Turkey, with the name Saul – according to his Hebrew name, or Paul – according to his Roman name from the Byzantine culture or Paul from the Slavic culture. He lived between 5–67 AD. In the biblical writings, Saul of Tarsus is presented as a persecutor of Christians who converted to Christianity as a result of a vision he had on his way from Jerusalem (a city in the historical region of Palestine, today the capital of Israel) to Damascus (a city in Syria and its capital since the 7th century), where he was to fulfill the mission of expanding the persecution of Christians in the diaspora, being appointed and recommended by the High Priest of Jerusalem. Saint Paul is known as one of the most influential missionaries of early Christianity and for his epistles he wrote during his missionary journeys. Ion Jalea represented the Apostle Paul standing, dressed in a long garment with folds covering his entire body, with a gaze that seems to be scrutinizing the meanings of the mysteries of the world, with his left arm holding his middle and leaning on a book that the saint he holds with his right hand, whose the index finger points to a landmark in relation to it. The appearance of the saint follows the canons of Byzantine iconography – the conical beard, the high forehead as a symbol of wisdom and the book in his hand, as a symbol of the large number of epistles written by him and mostly included in the New Testament.

Just like monoliths, the statues of Saints Peter and Paul, made of fixed blocks, of large dimensions, with obvious monumental qualities, represent the most important Christian Apostles.

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