Monday, November 8, 2010

Part IV: The Tour of the Boston Public Library

From the Chavannes murals, we passed into the Bates Hall, which was featured in the film, "Good Will Hunting." The reading room was dedicated to Joshua Bates, who donated $50,00 for books for the library. It was simply decorated with green shaded reading lights that light the rows of plain wooden tables.
Occupying the whole front of the building on the second floor level and lighted by high arched windows, it is 218 long, 42 feet wide, and 50 feet high, to the crown of its barrel vaulted ceiling.
The next room that we entered was the Edwin Abby Room. This room held the murals of the Tennison version of the Search for the Holy Grail. Installed in 1895, Edwin Austin Abbey painted fifteen scenes from Tennison’s story and arranged them in a circle high up on the walls in this large room (64’x22’) that is now often rented for special events and parties. The ceiling is made of heavy ornamental rafters, and the floors are made of Istrian and red Verona marble. There are also two grand fireplaces made of red Verona marble.


The Holy Grail was fabled to be the sacred vessel from which the Lord had eaten at the Last Supper. Joseph of Arimathea had gathered the divine blood of the Lord’s wounds after purchasing it from Pontius Pilate. Its existence, its preservation, its miraculous virtues and properties were a cherished popular belief in the early ages of European Christianity. From twelfth-century narrators, Walter Mapes in England, Chr√ątien de Troyes in France, and Wolfram von Eschenbach in Germany, came folklore that the Grail was guarded for ages in the Castle of the Grail by the descendants of the "rich man," to whom the body of Jesus had been surrendered, where it awaited the coming of the perfect knight, who alone should be worthy to have knowledge of it.

King Arthur’s court first introduced us to the romances of the Holy Grail and to the perfect knight. To the one who possessed the Grail was granted the ability to live, and to cause others to live, indefinitely without food, as well as the achievement of universal knowledge, and of invulnerability in battle.

The scenes recount the journey of Sir Galahad and the knights of the round table to find the Holy Grail, and the mishaps, dangers, and triumphs along the way. Sir Galahad, always in red, the symbol of purity, eventually breaks the spell of Amfortas, the Fisher King, King of the Grail, and later frees the Virtues, maidens of the Castle of the Maidens. He remains virtuous and renounces every human desire, and is able to accomplish his mission. The Holy Grail appears before him and his soul is freed from his body.

The room is magnificent, the paintings are very powerful. If you have a chance to read the book and then see the paintings, do so.

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