Eighteenth-Century Work on the Sacraments
Marc-Antoine Hersan (1649–1724).
Exercices sur les sacremens de pénitence et de la sainte Eucharistie, par des prières courtes, et des élévations à Dieu, tirées des Confessions de Saint Augustin et de l’Evangile.
Paris: L. Josse et C. Robustel, 1732.
In contrast to the vivid and graphic warnings conveyed by books featuring apocalyptic imagery, other devotional texts focused on avenues toward redemption. Although less sensationalistic, such publications also enjoyed popularity suggested by the many printings of this work on the sacraments first published in 1707. In the tradition of the Ars Bene Moriendi, books devoted to “the art of dying well,” the engraved frontispiece offers the prospect of a peaceful death. The fatally ill man is depicted lying in bed, holding a crucifix, and surrounded by loved ones, while Heaven beckons to him with light shining down from the upper right corner of the image. The scene includes a warning, however, as the head of a demon pokes up from flames in the lower right corner.