Colonel L. Holihan (born November 15, 1918, died
December 23, 2004) and his wife, Justyne were
ardent and sagacious collectors of good art all through their married
life, in particular during the family's stay in Madrid, Spain, where
Leonard occupied important military functions. One of the
couple's hobbies was to visit the Rastro, Madrid's popular market.
It is at this market that they discovered, bargained for and purchased
several of the paintings here presented. Both devout Catholics, it may
not come as a surprise that many of the paintings acquired were
of religious themes. For many years these artworks were
proudly and reverently displayed in Justyne's and Leonard's house as a
sure treat for those esthically-inclined and religiously-interested
visitors. After Justyne's death, Colonel Holihan decided to
donate the paintings with primarily Marian character to our library.
It is our joy to cherish and display them. Following Colonel Holihan's wishes, the paintings are dedicated
to the memory of Leonard's beloved brother, the late Monsignor
Edgar Maroney Holihan, of the Archdiocese of Syracuse, and Justyne W.
Holihan, "my wife, who helped me purchase and enjoy this collection."
texts accompanying the artworks were composed by Claudia G. Miller,
art appraiser whom Colonel Holihan had commissioned to evaluate his
Oil on canvas painting depicting
the Sacra Conversazione (holy conversation) which
refers to a combination of saints from different historical periods
shown in a unified spatial setting as they converse or join in silent
communion with one another around Madonna and Child. The subjects of
the painting are positioned from a central viewpoint and symmetrically
balanced on all sides. The Christ child is touched by the large hand
of Mary translating the frequently used "Hand" or "Arm of the Lord"
used in the Bible as a metaphor of the power and will of God. This
standing position of The Virgin is common in the fourteenth century
symbolizing her rank as Queen and the draping cloth over her head
emphasizes her humility, mercy and motherhood. When Mary is joined by
family members, it is commonly called "Holy Family" and we assume she
is talking with her cousin St. Elizabeth, the mother of St. John the Baptist, because light flows
above them as an imagery of
goodness, wisdom, divinity and holiness. This source of normal
illumination was used after the sixteenth century in Baroque sculpture
and architecture, concealed sources of natural light were sometimes
used in rather dark interiors to flood the holy figures while
darkness fills most of the canvas as a sign of ignorance and evil. The
identification of the male saints in this picture is somewhat
problematic: the left-hand saint has always been identified as Michael
but is unclear here, whilst the bearded saint on the right has been
variously identified as Mark, Jerome and Joseph. The unknown artist
has painted from a typical painting of the seventeenth century by Paolo Veroneses, titled
Sacra Conversazione, and it hangs in the Isaac
Delgado Museum of Art in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Oil on canvas painting depicting Madonna nursing
the Christ child. This is an expansion of the Madonna
Enthroned which included attendant angels and saints as well.
During the fourteenth century the coronation of the Virgin, by Christ,
in Heaven, after her death and Assumption (rising to Heaven borne by
angels) began to be treated as a separate subject. St. Anne is
central to the painting and is seated giving her importance and in
contrast emphasizes the humility, mercy and motherhood of Mary.
The winged putto lend an air of levity to the classical and
Renaissance paintings of its time. The subjects of the painting
are positioned from a central viewpoint and constructed according to
the principles of linear perspective with an equal vanishing point.
The imagery of light as goodness and wisdom illuminates on the putto,
in the faces of Mary and St. Anne and on the body of the Christ Child
and is one of the most ancient signs of divinity and holiness.
Darkness all around them symbolizes the ignorance and evil used
throughout both the Old and the New Testaments and occurs frequently
in church decoration.
The Holy Family
Oil painting on canvas depicting the young
Christ child, seated in a chair which symbolizes his importance, a
glowing halo around his head indicating holiness through radiant
light, a book to associate teaching and a pointing hand translating
the power and will of God. Mary is seated at equal perspective
to the child holding a shaft of wool symbolizing the lamb an
instrument of the passion used in the Crucifixion of Christ or
associated with his suffering during the Passion. Joseph stands
in equal perspective behind Mary and Jesus holding a single column
intended as an allusion to the column to which Christ was bound during
his Flagellation. Thus, by foreshadowing the Passion of Christ
through which mankind was saved, the column indicated the reason for
the Incarnation. Each of the three creates a single central
vanishing point created by their outstretched arms and hands as a
metaphor of the power and will of God in visual terms. Finally, the
light is one of the most ancient signs of divinity and holiness and
each of the subjects is illuminated and the darkness frequently
occurs in church decoration as ignorance and evil. They appear
without any indication of supernatural illumination as represented by
the sixteenth-century artists.
Madonna of the
Oil painting on canvas depiction of the painting by Barolome Esteban
Murillo hanging in the Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain, also known as Our
Lady of the Rosary. The Virgin Mary with the Christ
Child is one of the most common subjects of Christian art and,
since many variants of the theme have been developed over the
centuries, a number of special designations are regularly used to
differentiate the types. In these various images, the Virgin
Mary is often called the Madonna (It., my lady) even though the work
may have been created outside the immediate sphere of Italian art.
In this depiction she is seated and positioned as if in a throne that
establishes her rank as Queen yet she has no halo which is
representative of her humility, mercy and motherhood.
The subjects of the painting are positioned from
a central viewpoint and constructed according to the principles of
linear perspective with an equal vanishing point. The imagery of
light as goodness and wisdom illuminates on the faces of Mary and the
body of the Christ Child, and is one of the most ancient signs of
divinity and holiness. Darkness all around them symbolizes the
ignorance and evil used throughout both the Old and the New Testaments
and occurs frequently in church decoration. An indication of the date
of the painting comes from the rosary draped around the body of
Christ. The Apostles Creed added to the rosary prayer during the
1600s and the prayer sequence of the rosary is becoming more and more
popular. The beads appear to be crystal and therefore
representative of overall configuration of rosary during this period.
In France in 1627, Louis XIII orders the public recitation of the
rosary against the rebellious Hugenots. Fifteen Thousand
Rosaries are distributed to the troops with set hours for prayer.
The battle is won and France is saved. The Rosary continues to
grow in popularity. Finally in 1673, the Secret of the Rosary
is written by St. Louis De Montfort, founder of two
religious orders. The sermons in this book became popular as
guides to those who choose to Consecrate their lives to Jesus through
Mary, so by the end of the seventeenth century the Rosary has continued to
grow in popularity and this painting is representative of that
The Continence of Scipio
canvas painting on a cradled panel depicting the story of Scipio, the
Roman general whose campaigns against the Carthaginians in North
Africa brought the Second Punic War to a close. (It was signed with
initials by the artist A. Narenus (Dutch) on the front, lower center
section and dated 1643). This scene was made popular during the
Renaissance era due to the epic poem/sonnet titled Africa by Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374) usually referred to as Petrach. It is a
two-point perspective painting with convergence beginning on the right
and vanishing off to the left side of the piece which is typical of
Madonna of the
A hand-woven Italian Barabino tapestry depicting the seated Virgin
holding the Christ child draped in robes with lemon tree branches and
lemons beneath her feet and at her side. Circular halos are
placed around the heads of Madonna and Jesus as a conventional symbol
of radiant light as an indication of their holiness.