Artwork of The Week: March 1
Julius Rotermund, The Wise and Foolish Virgin, 1856, oil on canvas, 46 1/2 x 47 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by William P. and Barbara L. Benac, 2015.
Christ taught the vital importance of steadfast devotion to the Savior using the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins. This painting portrays His sobering message using two symbolic figures, contrasting examples of spiritual preparedness. At left, the wise young woman stands with her eyes fixed heavenward in an inspired, anticipatory gaze. One hand covers her heart while the other proffers an oil lamp. The lamp is topped with a small depiction of Saint George fighting the dragon, a symbolic allusion to overcoming evil. She wears a maiden wreath of leaves, emphasizing her virtue. The inscription at her feet reads: “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the bridegroom cometh.”
In contrast, the foolish and unprepared virgin leans languidly against the wall, as if sleeping. Her leafy crown has fallen to the ground and the lamp hangs loosely, ready to slip from her tenuous grip. Her cover robe sags carelessly around her hips. The inscription at her feet reads: “Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.” German artist Julius Rotermund was born this week in 1826.