Andrew, Portrait of a Saint
City Art Centre,
Peter Howson considers the “Crucifixion of Saint Andrew” to be one of his most important works to date. The painting is not only significant in terms of his own artistic achievement; it is also unprecedented in Scottish art. By choosing to depict the actual crucifixion, he breaks with tradition in the way that the Nation’s Saint is portrayed.
In 2005, Peter was approached by the City Art Centre (Edinburgh) with the proposal to complete a painting on the theme of Scotland’s patron Saint. This meeting led to the following exhibition, “Andrew: Portrait of a Saint”. In preparing for this exhibition, Peter travelled to Israel in order to immerse himself in the region where Andrew had lived. The resulting representation of the Saint’s crucifixion has been described as “monumental” and as having reenergized the traditional portrait by moving Andrew back to the cross and depicting the strength and endurance of Scotland’s patron Saint.
Peter is famous for his ability to capture the brutality that is so often present in humanity, this exhibition truly captures the horrific sacrifice made by the Saint for his religion, and in doing so Peter has added a new sense of life to this ecclesial hero in the form of the humanistic expression of suffering, painstakingly etched across the face of Andrew in these scenes. The rhythmic clarity present in the body as it is depicted writhing across the four points of the saltire cross is a visual testament to Andrew’s martyrdom and perhaps for Peter, a way of clarifying and resonating his own suffering through these powerful visual images.