The mural paintings

The Trinité

<i>The Virgin of the Pentecost</i>, 1966. Oil on canvas
The Virgin of the Pentecost, 1966. Oil on canvas
<i>The Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple</i>, 1966. Oil on canvas
The Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple, 1966. Oil on canvas

Study for <i>The Virgin of the Pentecost</i>
Study for The Virgin of the Pentecost

It is only in the field of sacred painting themed murals that Morgan-Snell can reveal her full sense of composition, the peak of her creative imagination and her epic turn of mind. In 1960, unanimously, the commission des Beaux-Arts de la ville de Paris (the Commission of Fine Arts in the city ofParis) appointed Morgan-Snell to paint two running murals, each measuring six meters high by four meters wide for the Marian Chapel of the église de La Trinité. These panels were transferred in 1992 to the église Saint Michel of the Batignolles, also in Paris. For the first time,an order of this magnitude was entrusted to a woman. Morgan-Snell chose as subject “The Presentation at the Temple” and “the Virgin at Pentecost”.

For “The Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple”, the artist was inspired by the description contained in the Golden Legend: the temple was situated on a mountain top, and to arrive at the altar of the holocaust, which was outside of the temple, one would have to climb up fifteen steps corresponding to the fifteen gradual psalms. Morgan-Snell explains her work: "I am presenting the mother of Christ, in “the Presentation in the Temple”, under the guise of a little girl climbing towards the high priests; only a halo of fire designates her, places her above the rest of humanity and the other figures present. In this composition, firstly, all eyes are directed towards the Virgin, but I would like the spectators glance to then lower in order to see the other figures too: each figure has a profound meaning, has a real presence and is symbolic”, and the priest of the Church adds " All the forces of the world come to submit cheerfully to this frail girl".

  Coloured studies for the <i>Trinité</i>
Coloured studies for the Trinité

The Virgin of the Pentecost”, measuring twenty-four square meters, represents the glorious Virgin surrounded by the apostles who have the Divine responsibility of spreading the Faith. From left to right: a Mongolian in a yellow silk dress symbolizes Asia, a young woman, the embodiment of maternal love, dedicates her three children to the worship of the Mother of Christ, a gushing fountain of which the water is sign of purification, man and his horse are ground forces, a black woman and her child implore divine protection and an Indian of athletic build is representative of the American continent. On the 9th of March 1966, an official ceremony at the église de la trinité was organized for the inauguration of the two murals with an address by the Reverend Father Riquet and in the presence of many personalities.

These works have had great success and have been widely reported in the press, on the radio and television.

“The snatchers of the sea”

<i>The snatchers of the sea</i>, 1958. Oil on canvas
The snatchers of the sea, 1958. Oil on canvas

The Snatchers of the Sea, at the  Palais des Congrès    of Les Sables d'Olonne 
The Snatchers of the Sea, at the  Palais des Congrès    of Les Sables d'Olonne 

In 1956 the Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs commissioned from Morgan-Snell a mural to be hung at the General Post Office at the Sables d'Olonne, measuring ten meters long and two meters high and entitled “The snatchers of the sea”, this was completed in 1958. This work consists of three panels. The artist painted a scene depicting the harsh life of fishermen. In the harbour, facing the tower of Arundel, on the right is the sailboat and on the left the iron ship and all around men hard at work, their backs, their arms, their muscles are all stretched to the extreme, it is a wonderful tribute to the courage and bravery of seamen for the struggle and danger they go encounter as they earn their daily bread. The exaggerated anatomy of the figures is reminiscent of mythological titans. The mastery of execution, an undeniable sense of drama contributes to the success of the composition perfectly adapted to its context and its purpose. This panel now decorates the Congress Center known as the Atlantes at the Sables d'Olonne in France. This fresco was thepièce de resistance in the exhibition at Bernheim-Jeune Gallery in April 1958. During the inauguration Morgan-Snell explained that, it is "Not at all inspired by the antique, it is modern, and I adapted it taking into account the atmosphere of the harbour at Sables. I invoked”, she adds, “having myself been to the harbour, among fishermen: the return of nets, the work of the port and maritime life”. Robert Rey, author of the preface to the catalog speaks of this suprarealism, "Who are these people exerting themselves near to bursting , enough to even shatter their joints? Galley slaves? Haulers of ropes? No, defeated Titans, by some divine decree condemned like Sisyphus to endless physical labour." This great composition is a very modern way of seeing reality. The Arundel Tower rises majestically in the middle of the fresco making the landscape a realstate of mind. This work is driven by an inspiration of the epic. It has vivid colour effects and a distinctive line. One should note in this painting; “The snatchers of the sea”, the vigor and passion that characterize this great artist, Morgan-Snell, who knows how to create the spark without which a painting is something simply lifeless.

A detail of <i>“The snatchers of the sea”</i>
A detail of “The snatchers of the sea”
A detail of <i>“The snatchers of the sea”</i>
A detail of “The snatchers of the sea”

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