I saw one of the coolest things since coming to Dublin today at the art gallery. This fact actually kind of shocks me.
Ireland’s own Francis Danby painted “Opening of the Sixth Seal” in 1828.
The painting, which was probably 9 feet wide by 6 feet tall, reminds me of the scene in Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith, when Anakin Skywalker fully turns on Obi Wan Kenobi and they battle on those floating raft objects. I imagine if the painting had continued, we may well have seen Anakin lying damaged on the hillside with Obi Wan looking over him. It wouldn’t be a stretch to think that George Lucas had at least looked at this painting before constructing that scene.
To a lesser extent, it kind of reminds me of Ganondorf’s castle from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
The painting is very dark, and, as our tour guide Rita told us, it’s only getting darker with age. There is one particular spot that grabs my attention right away. On the right hand side, a beam of light is seen ricocheting between giant boulders. Rita didn’t mention the beam, but my guess is that it represents the Holy Spirit coming from the light clouds in the sky.
On the left side, the blood-colored moon rests behind what looks like the edge of a fiery pit of hellfire. This is specifically mentioned in the Revelation passage.
Rita also pointed out that a woman is seen throwing her baby off the side of the mountain. The woman is not being mean, she said, but was trying to spare the baby the forthcoming wrath.
A man in chains is portrayed here as well, Rita added, almost welcoming the change. It is thought that he was a slave, and that he would be freed from the chains due to whatever was coming. At the time, abolition of slavery was coming about. On the painting, you could see a slice of where somebody tried to cut this portion out. Clearly this person was against the abolition and wanted to keep slaves in tact.
Most of all, Rita pointed out that the moral of the painting was that you will mean nothing if you’re not a good person.
Not being an artist, this painting really made me take a look at myself. For some reason, I seem to like when people are facing an uphill battle that seems impossible to overcome. I like to watch shows like Celebrity Rehab and Intervention, where those odds seem great. This picture, for better or worse, is not a picture in motion. The bodies lying on the cliff will always be there, fighting against the sixth seal. There is no resolution. There is no hope for the baby. The man looking to break free will always be bound by his chains. The moon will always be red, and the hellfire will always continue flowing. This painting provides no glimpse of hope, because the beam of light will never reach the people trapped on this mountain.
And I saw when he opened the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the whole moon became as blood; and the stars of the heaven fell unto the earth, as a fig tree casteth her unripe figs when she is shaken of a great wind. And the heaven was removed as a scroll when it is rolled up; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the princes, and the chief captains, and the rich, and the strong, and every bondman and freeman, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains; and they say to the mountains and to the rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of their wrath is come; and who is able to stand?