Royal Arch Tracing Board Analysis

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As I tackled the second in this series of tracing boards, I took the time to appreciate something is probably pretty obvious, but often overlooked – how similar, and yet how different, these two boards are. This is to be expected when the same artist created both pieces, but the composition of each varies greatly, while still remaining stylistic resonant. In the Royal Arch tracing board we view a scene that many Masons are familiar with – a Lodge room, arranged with symbolic tools and banners. It is obviously meant to be interpreted in precisely that manner; an exercise in finding the symbols and offering allegory for their meaning and purpose. In contrast, the Council tracing board is far less overt. It offers a view into an historic moment, acting more as a photograph of an event than a reference for symbolism and learning. Yet, as the viewer takes time to enjoy the scene arrayed before him, the sub-text of the painting comes to light. Whereas with the Royal Arch board I started at the bottom and moved up, for this piece I find myself starting at the top and moving down. Yet again, the board can be divided into three distinct parts – the living word, the aging world, and the hidden world.…show more content…
To me, it symbolically ties the Blue Lodge degrees to the Royal Arch and the Cryptic Rite. In in the painting, I can visualize it being used to lower the digger from the outward city, down through the Temple ruins, into the Sanctum Sanctorum. In this way, the length of the cable tow takes on a new meaning, as a Masons cable tow must be long enough to allow to reach the deepest part of the Crypt and strong enough to support him. Perhaps this is a reference to his mind as well – is the Brothers mind capable of making the long journey into the deep recesses and strong enough to support him as he
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