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Animals > Doves

 

 

Dove 1

High up on the sounding boards of pulpits in Eastern France and Flanders hang doves with outstretched wings and raised feet; some are painted, some are not.  They flutter above the priest as he preaches to the congregation showing that the Holy Spirit is present in his words.  Just as a dove chooses the best grain, a preacher chooses the best scriptures.

The dove of the Holy Ghost appears in art in other poses.  In scenes of The Annunciation a ray of light emanates from the dove as it swoops down towards the Virgin.  In scenes of The Baptism its light shines down onto the head of Christ.

 

 

 Dove 2

Late-Gothic oak carved upright from a coffer or cupboard, with a spurious date of 1774 crudely scratched at the top.  The carving is English or Northern French.  At this period it is difficult to differentiate, though the naively-carved bird suggests an English origin.

The bird is likely to be a dove as it is perched on a branch of a vine pecking at the grapes.  In Christian art the vine stands for Christ who likened himself to a vine with the church as a vineyard.  The dove eating the fruit represents the human soul reaping the rewards of religion.

The curling tendrils of the vine amongst the large leaves and grapes make a useful artistic motif that crops up all over the fabric of early church buildings and furniture.  The design is particularly enhanced by the inclusion of doves, noted for their gentleness:

Be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

(Matthew X.16)