Sunday, January 23, 2011
Jibberish Scripts (Hebrew? Greek?)
When I took another look at the entire painting online (see image and description here), I realized this child actually identified as SANCTV. IOHANES EWAN. (Saint John the Evangelist) - and his Gospel was actually written in Greek. But the writing doesn't look very much like Greek either.
I guess it doesn't really matter whether the writing is "supposed" to be Greek or Hebrew. It looks like the artist was much more interested in representing the "idea" of a holy writer rather than conveying the accuracy of any particular script. (For another creative use of script in a religious painting, see this earlier posting about upside-down Latin.)
I'm sure I could find other examples of jibberish script throughout the NGA if I really looked around, but here's a similar example from a painting I saw in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo during a visit to Siena:
older form of Arabic numerals.