Jenkins, entering the church that served as the company’s billet, “followed Kedward through the forbidding portals of Sardis — one of the Seven Churches of Asia, I recollected — immediately entering a kind of a cave, darker than the streets, although a shade warmer. … It was not easy to discern what lay about us in a Daumier world of threatening, fiercely slanted shadows, in the midst of which two feeble jets of bluish gas, from which the pungent smell came, gave irregular, ever-changing contours to the amorphous mass of foggy cubes and pyramids.” [VB 8/4]
Honoré Daumier (French, 1808-1879) is perhaps most famous for his caricatures, but he was a prolific painter, draftsman, printmaker, and sculptor, producing over 6000 works. There are extensive compendia of his art available on the Web (The Daumier Register). We have chosen to show The Third Class Carriage, rather than a church scene or a building interior, because it shows not only Daumier’s mastery of shadows but also the grimness that Jenkins experienced.
The reference to Sardis comes from the Book of Revelation 1:11; Jesus says, “Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.” These places became known as the Seven Churches of Asia; here “churches” refers to communities of believers, rather than to buildings.
Sardis, in Asia Minor, was the capital of Lydia, inhabited from at least the seventh century B.C. to the fifteenth century A.D., and today the site of ruins and modern archeological excavation.