HE PAINTING BY Jean Paul Laurens (1838 – 1921) St John Chrysostom and the Empress Eudoxia has always intrigued me, but I can’t tell whether or not I really admire it. On one hand, its golden glow is terribly attractive. The empress is as lovely as a statue in her niche. I especially like the juxtaposition of St. John Chrysostom’s white robe against the pulpit and his tensed fingers silhouetted against the background. I also like the sense of space that can be glimpsed just behind the Empress.
On the other hand, the overall geometry of the painting consists of a rather strange dialogue between a semicircle and a triangle. Does it composition really convey they meaning of the event? I find it worrisome that Saint John Chrysostom comes off as somewhat hysterical and the empress poised in comparison.