Jonathan Brogie [JR RP 2021] : Tradition illuminating art, 2021.


SAL record control number: 103253 ;

Record level: Item ;

Record type: Movable work ;


Work title: Tradition illuminating art [JR RP 2021] ;

Alternate work titles:
2021 : Tradition illuminating art [JR RP 2021] ;

Work date: 2021  [from artist] ;

Work creator: Jonathan Brogie [JR RP 2021] ;

Work medium: Red, white, and black chalk on paper ;
Work dimensions: 22 x 8 inches (each) [unframed] | 34 x 30 inches [framed] ;

Inscribed / signed front: [none] ;


SAL category: Works on paper ;
SAL sub-category: Allegory ; genre ;

Archives of American Art subjects:

Description of work:
My proposal for the Salmagundi Club Library Doors Commission depicts the theme, “Tradition Illuminating Art.” The primary figure in the left panel represents Tradition, who holds aloft a blazing torch which illuminates the scene in the opposite panel, depicting the allegorical figure of Art. While Art is surrounded by her various aspects of Music, Sculpture and Poetry in collaboration, Tradition stands in competitive triumph over Discord, Inconstancy, and Folly. Below each scene is an organic, decorative motif relating to the primary figures, and above is a decorative trompe-l’œil relief frieze uniting the scenes.

The figure of Tradition wears a laurel crown, one of the most iconic attributes used in Western art. The laurel, being an evergreen tree native to the Mediterranean, was used by the Greeks to award victorious athletes in the Pythian Games and was adopted by the Romans. It has come to symbolize all forms of achievement, triumph, victory, etc. as well as honor, truth, and eternity. Here it is used to demonstrate Tradition’s eternal glory and enduring achievements. He also holds a stone tablet, listing either the rules of custom or historical deeds. The marble block underfoot gives Tradition a solid and beautiful foundation. Behind him is a column and a grindstone. The grindstone demonstrates a phrase outlined in Cesare Ripa’s treatise on symbolism, Iconologia: “vires acquirit eundo (we gather strength as we go) […] for if it is not turned round, it has not the force to wear the knife by grinding.” This elegant attribute teaches us not only that Tradition’s strength grows with time, but also that if it is to hone our tools it cannot become static or stagnant. Below Tradition sits the dejected figure of Discord, traditionally portrayed with serpentine hair and holding an apple, the facilitators of the original sin in the garden of Eden. Beside her is Inconstancy, half-seated, as if about to stand. Her blue garment imitates the rippling of ocean waves. She balances a crescent moon on her fingertip, layering the suggestion of constant movement. In the background Folly entices a serpent of Discord. His unabashed nudity shows his disregard for common decorum The bottom panel depicts a tree to show the strength and age of Tradition, as well as a field of acanthus flowers. The perennial flowers symbolize eternity and immortality.

The figure of Art is depicted with the attributes of a painter, admittedly revealing the bias of the artist. She holds brushes, a maul stick, palette, and sits in front of an oval canvas, illuminated by the torch of Tradition. In her left arm she holds a stake supporting a vine, symbolizing that art seeks to support nature’s defects and in representing nature to improve upon it. Above her is the winged figure of Music, playing a triumph horn. Her wings symbolize the celerity and freedom of music as it is a temporal and abstract art. Poetry, below, writes on a flowing scroll. She wears wings on her head to show her connection to Music and the intellect.

Her sky-colored garment is described by Ripa: “The sky-colors signify that none can excel in this art, if he be not endowed with extraordinary talents from Heaven.” The final figure, Sculpture, offers an idol of a Winged Victory to Art. In his other hand he holds calipers, a tool of his craft. The bottom panel depicts an ornamental wreath of various flowers, displaying the
beautiful nature of Art.

The panels above the scenes depict a procession of pegasi. The pegasus commonly symbolizes creative inspiration. Depicted as a low-relief frieze, an art form heavily associated with historical cultures and architecture, they bring the themes of Tradition and Art into harmony.

2021 Jonathan Brogie [JR RP 2021], the artist .

Exhibition history:
2021 SCNY Allegory today : the library commission November 8-19.

References / citations:



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Record birth date:
October 29, 2021

Last updated: October 29, 2021 at 16:00 pm