Saint Luke Drawing the Virgin by Alexandra Huddleston & Robert Huddleston


A Process Note

Though we are siblings, Alexandra and I work not only in different media but often on different continents. We often communicate by email, and our collaborations have also arisen that way. These works were created separately. The affinity was uncovered, or subliminally revealed, in their pairing like “the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a operating table.” The poem is a meditation on Rogier van Der Weyden’s painting Saint Luke Drawing the Virgin, housed in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. (The evangelist Luke is the patron saint of painters.) The poem was inspired both by the painting and by Emmanuel Carrère’s fictionalized biography of Luke, The Kingdom. Alexandra’s work explores a similar intersection between landscape and historical memory. The images featured here were made on Mont Sainte-Victorie, a peak in southern France that is a site of pilgrimage and also features in the history of painting—most notably in the series of views of it that Paul Cézanne made from Aix-en-Provence. These correspondences subtly link the poem and the images, and the resulting hybrid seems to enhance the texture of each.

-Robert Huddleston




Title: “Uncertainties, from the north slope of Mont Sainte-Victoire”
Artist: Alexandra Huddleston

Saint Luke Drawing the Virgin

Patron of painters
he drew her from life

She was seventeen
at the birth of the only child
we remember

Years later Luke would meet
as a dowager
the young girl he drew

Van der Weyden shows him
with a child and a mother
he could have known
only with the child
a son
long dead

Lost time hides
behind a square of sky

Luke’s hand is posed in midair
a maestro
holding the baton aloft
as silence falls like light
through empty space



Alexandra Huddleston is an acclaimed photographer whose work features in the collections of the British Library, the Smithsonian, and the Library of Congress. She holds a Masters of Letters in Fine Art Practice from the Glasgow School of Art.

Robert Huddleston is a poet, translator, and essayist whose work has appeared in various publications including Boston Review, Colorado Review, Narrative, and Tupelo Quarterly.