Soapstone in two blocks, 219 cm (1800-1805). Sanctuary of Bom Jesus de Matosinhos, Congonhas, Minas Gerais, Brazil (1757-1805).
Hosea lived in Israel in the eighth century BC, after the prophet Amos; all that is known of his life is that he married an adulteress.
Hosea, a Minor Prophet, dialogues face to face with Daniel. The believer, while climbing the stairs sees him from the rear, where a set of lines of its broad mantle creates zones of light and shadow. At the bottom, the undulating line of the phylactery touches the base, compressing the mantle folds in a zigzag. Above, the large sloping fold of the mantle contrasts with the opposite fold of Daniel’s mantle ahead. The fabric falling from the cap hides the hair and extends the hood topped by the tassel.
A side view shows part of one of his boots that stands behind the phylactery and short tunic. The void created by the step forward combined with the space between Daniel’s arm. While the Major Prophet’s feet disappear, the Minor Prophet’s (Hosea) feet are evident – when the left foot leaves the confines of the base and the right foot is directed to the opposite side.
With regard to the frontality, the work has a certain grace with the movement in an S shape, like the medieval Madonnas. The artist foreshadows vertical lines – the chart with the writings, the legs, and the line of buttons on the short tunic – but soon breaks the composition by placing on the side of the phylactery a big X of folds that escalate the arm and, in a lower proportion, relieve the overweight with a V at the ornate collar. On the opposite side, the right hand holds a pen, attribute of his records; pen with which he signed a commitment of marriage to an adulterous woman with whom he probably lived for mercy. The arm rises to the face framing between the straight lines of the V collar, and the S of the curly long hair and beard in rolls below the prominent chin. The peaceful face, balanced when viewed from the three angles – two sides and front – proves to be perfect due to the carvings done masterfully. The cap with its rolled fabric, hood and tassel, magnifies the figure.
From the side view from the churchyard plan, Hosea first shows the imposing mantle pulled on arm and in the background the body – legs, torso and head – highlighting the clean lines of the profile, aided by the breath of blue background of the Infinite.
Sometimes Hosea is represented with a skull at his feet, prophesying that the Lord will rise again. His figure is almost pathetic. The prophet had to marry an adulteress with whom he had children, just as Yahweh joined the people of God, even in sin.
Takes the adulterous, told me the Lord. I do: she became my wife, conceived and gave birth. Hosea, Ch. 1.
In Latin: Accipe Adul/teram, ait Do/minus nihi : id/Exsequor : illa/Facta Uxor, Pro/Les Concipit./Atque Parit. Osee Cap. 1.
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