Reflections on the Women of the Bible            
    From the writings which accompanied the conception, completion and the public presentations of the twelve Women of the Bible, Ernani Costantini collected some passages from the Holy Scriptures and other texts in a folder, along with his own personal reflections, from his preparations for the fulfilment of this pictorial cycle. For each character the painter has provided his own suggestions.

A selection of passages are included, about the first and the last women in the cycle and about two of the other ten, which help us to enter the mood of human, cultural and religious reflection which drove and guided the artist in his work.
    Eve       drawing study of Eve   Study of Eve
“ …The Lord God […] made […] a woman and brought her to the man.
Then the man said – This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh… –”

Genesis 2:22-23
    What must man have felt, as he awoke from that “deep slumber” into which the Lord had cast him, when he saw this “thing” before him which resembled him so closely but was at the same time so different? We know what he said, it's in the Bible. How he felt is not mentioned. And who could accurately describe the feeling of absolute uncontaminated love which surely stirred for the first time in the man's heart? How did the Woman appear to his eyes?
This being who through love ensured the eternal life of a species? “Go forth and multiply” were the words said to them. But, well, instead of doing this in the peaceful joy of Eden, they carried out their task amid the pain and tribulations of life. [E. Costantini]

[…] I hold your hand with only a deep sigh;
Afterwards, tears - in the days when we are parted.
With all your might enjoy the spring flowers,
But do not forget the time of our love […]

(Su Wu – circa 100 a.C)

Eve, 1984
  eve standing, painting            
“And Rebekah looked up, and when she saw Isaac, she slipped quickly from the camel, and said to the servant, – Who is the man over there, walking in the field to meet us? – The servant said, – It is my master. – So she took her veil and covered herself. ”

Genesis 24:64-65
Rebekah hides her face, drawing study   Study for Rebekah
Rebekah’ legs and camels burdens, drawing study   Study for Rebekah
    […] I knew her. She sprang out at me, alive from the Book, the vivacious girl who quenched the thirst of my camels weary from their desert crossing. She ran from the well to the waterhole, looking at me with her dark eyes, laughing happily.
It was evening time when I gave her the golden nose ring; but she accepted it and also the other gifts, reassuring me as she ran ahead of me towards her father's house.
It was only later, when she saw Isaac, that she seemed to go pale under the veil she had drawn across her face leaving only her eyes visible which seemed to become even darker […] [E.C.]
[…] Rebecca, oh meek, I never rmeet you!
Just an handful of centuries divides us,
the twinkling of an eye, for whom who understand your lesson.
Only the divine is utter in the sip and in the crumb.
Only death overcomes him, if asking for full portion, […]

(Eugenio Montale – from Satura)
Rebekah, 1984
  rebekah, isaac and the servants with camels, painting            
[…] The voice of my beloved!
Look, he comes, […]
Look, there he stands
behind our wall,
gazing in at the windows,
looking through the lattice.
My beloved speaks and says to me:
'Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away'; […]

(Sog of Solomon 2:8-10 )
the lover watches shulamith sleeping
Shulammite, 1984
    Almost four years have passed since I was tempted by the love song of Sulamita and her loved one. And now more than then – maybe because I have had to explore that theme – I feel I have understood the enormity and the beauty of this absolute love, disarming and (deep down) ingenuous and pure.
A love beyond every request which does not regard the pulses of the heart and the imagination; which associates us with more beautiful things, better things, more gracious and eager, the loved one. And love makes us dream like something complete […] the love which becomes the nature of a poet’s soul for a total and absolute happiness. [E.C.]
At the evening of life, we shall be judged on love

(St. John of the Cross)
Study of Mary of Nazareth
  faces of Mary and Jesus Child, drawing study            
    Maria di Nazaret   Mary standing and carrying Jesus Child, drawing study   Study of Mary of Nazareth
[…] my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
[…] for the Mighty One has done great things for me, […]

(Luke 1:47-49)
    So much has been written about Mary Mother of Jesus and written so well that I don’t know what to add.
She is not a character like the previous ones. She is something else. She is so close to the heart of our existence as Christians that I think (at least for me) to try and draw her out would be in vain […]
I painted her as I now imagine her to be […] As if to feel her presence nearer to us. […] [E.C.]
Virgin Mother, daughter of your Son,
more humble and exalted than any other creature,
fixed goal of the eternal plan, […]

(Dante Alighieri, Divine Comedy - Paradise XXXIII)
    Mary standing and carrying Jesus Child, painting



Mary of Nazareth, 1984    
  © Famiglia Costantini