Art: RICHES REVEALED

Good morning to the day, and next my gold!/Open the shrine, that I may see my saint." With the miser's first lines in Volpone. Ben Jonson put his finger on it: that deep connection between the two aspects of precious metal, as crude capital and as metaphor of heaven, that so long existed in Christian art.

Gold was the root of evil. But it was also the Apollonian ore, incorruptible and glittering, that elegantly symbolized the sempiternal radiance of God. Now that paper money and computer records have replaced the feel and ring of heavy metal, most of this symbolism is lost...

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