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Death Comes to the Archbishop & Painterly Sight

Willa Cather's Death Comes to the Archbishop began with Cather's interests in Puvis de Chavannes' frescoes of Saint Genevieve (see the engraved panel above).  Cather's novel shares with Chavannes' work a classical Virgilian simplicity which moves from focusing on key figures to a sense of static setting. Cather also mentions a portrait of St. Francis by El Greco that has been taken to the Southwest.  Look at the following paintings by Chavannes and El Greco.  Ask yourself what these images reveal about human action, character, setting, and spirituality.  How can these images be compared to the tone and structure of the novel?

Chavannes 1       Chavannes 2      Chavannes 3     El Greco 1     El Greco 2

"All manner of thing shall be well/ When the tongues of flame are in-folded/ Into the crowned knot of fire/ And the fire and the rose are one." -- T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding