Monday, May 2, 2011


Johann Sebastian Bach

Renaissance Oil Collage of Johann Sebastian Bach

What a surprise! After studying Bach on Google, I discovered that he was a numerologist. I learned that his fugues and cannons are mathematical in nature and that he even played games with his music. A sheet of his music can be turned upside down and be completely unchanged! He was obsessed with the number 14 and wore only jackets with that number of buttons. In numerology, which I still don’t know a lot about, the name Bach supposedly is equated to these numbers:





Added together, they total 14. JSBach= 41 I created his musical signature and placed it on his sleeve shown below.

Musical signature Bach used on his compositions

Number 14 and mirror number 41, were Bach’s favorites. I decided to add that signature to my painting along with showing the 14 buttons on his jacket. I also added a complex mathematical symbol with the numbers and musical notes most often found in his compositions.

Mathematical symbols I used to depict his genius

Fourteen buttons on his coat-I placed a small image of Bach in the center of each

Here are a few basics on Bach’s life. He was born in Germany in 1885 and lived to be 65 years old. He was a virtuoso organist and composer and has been hailed as a genius whose work represents the peak of the Baroque era. He was taught to play the harpsichord and violin by his father. Bach married twice with a total of 20 children, many of whom became famous musicians in their own right. Bach’s numerological symbols still amaze musicians today and many consider him to be the greatest composer of all times.

I have now finished 3 of the 5 composers I plan to do. Next is Chopin.

Thanks everyone for your most appreciated comments on what has been for me a real stretch in my artistic endeavors!

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  1. interesting story and fine art - bach wasn't the only, or even the first, to link music to mathematics; he may have been the greatest, though. thanks for sharing this with us. c will

  2. That is so cool. This is the sort of thing they should teach kids about composers and such to grab their interest. Beautiful piece. I just love this series. I have a book called "Spiritual lives of great composers." I'll have to look him up again.

  3. Hello Cheryl! Now this is what I call a holistic post. I was not just amazed by your art, I was likewise given some lesson in history and the wonders of numerology.

    To be honest with you, I did not seriously took my Arts and History subjects back in college. But now that I found your blog, I am given a refresher in History. Thank you Cheryl!You gave me a different face of history. :)

  4. I like the detail on the sleeve and the buttons. I studied piano and composition as a child, I did not know any of these facts.

    Thank you.

  5. He was into numerology- I never knew! How cool is that? I love his fugues, could listen to them for hours on end! This, as is all of your composer series- is truly beautiful- what a lucky son you have!

  6. Interesting Cheryl,all the things I've learned through your art I never knew. and how you incorporated the mathematical concept into your canvas is genius as well. Love the buttons!
    hugs Lynn

  7. Fantastic! Thanks for the back story as well. :)

  8. Wow, Wow, and WOW, Cheryl! This piece is amazing, and the information you've included about Bach is fascinating. I love how you thoroughly research before your creation process.

    I've finished my self-imposed and much-needed blogging break, and can see that you, My Dear, have been busier than a bee! OMG! Your Frieda sculpture is amazing, and those coat hangers are awesome. And the painting . . . . well, it defies descriptive words . . . . it's all so very fabulous!!! I'm so happy that I've stopped by today. You are truly an inspiration. Hugs, Terri xoxoxoxo

  9. I'm in love with this canvas. The use of numerology just increases my enjoyment of this piece and all I've learned about Bach today. I am especially fond of the buttons. They are perfect. And, since I seem to have missed them, I wanted to tell you how much I like your cloak hangers, too. They are beautiful.

  10. Cheryl, this is my favorite piece in your composers set ... and I love them all! However, you have added so many intimate details of this man's life into this work ... for some reason, for me, it has been brought to life much more passionately.

    I recall another master painter who also applied mirrored images into his paintings ... though at the moment, I cannot remember his name. I thought it so clever! I am thrilled you did the same ...

    You are brilliant, my friend. I dare say, there is not one talent you do not posses!:)))

  11. Thank you for so much great information and love how you've incorporated all this into your painting, also love the buttons. Annette

  12. Beautiful and powerful..gorgeous work Cheryl! as a child i was trained classically on I had to learn about all the composers and I was quite drawn to Bach and my teacher had a large head/bust statue of him..I kinda was scared of he was always staring a me..ha ha..but I was quite entranced by him too. Brilliant post..intirguing work I love how much of his energy you have poured into the piece..awesome tribute...and his presence is really it!

  13. very interesting info on Bach!! I did not know those things..........beautiful work Cheryl!

  14. Thank you for sharing this very special work with us all. Bach is one of my favorites. His Brandenburg Concertos I listen to at least 3 times a week! I did not know about the numbers and that was most interesting.


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  16. The question on everyone's lips which they are too afraid to ask is naturally.... "Was his Bach worse than his bite?"

    In all seriousness, this is a wonderful piece. I think your clever touch with the buttons is pure genius - worthy of the man himself.

    Who would have thought it about the numerology stuff eh? I'm so glad you shared. It's really fascinating. I want to learn more now... I may have to go Google...

    PS - had to remove the last comment because I had a typo in my joke which totally ruined the effect!!

  17. Your painting is fabulous and what a great story! I had no idea. The buttons are especially cool. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful piece of eye candy!

  18. Oh, I just looked again and have to add that I love the background as much as the figure - LOTS of visual interest and magic going on here!

  19. So much depth and meaning in this painting, Cheryl. I believe it's the best and most flattering dipiction of Bach I've ever seen!
    I learned a lot today...great post.

  20. Wonderful painting and such interesting facts about Bach! His music amazes me.

  21. Ah, JSB... my hero, nay, my super-hero!!! I was lucky in that my first piano teacher gave me Bach instead of scales and other boring exercises when I first began lessons at age 4. It was the beginning of a life-long love affair with The Master. I began organ studies at 10, and am still plowing my way through his massive organ repertoire. My years as a professional singer included many of his incredible choral works, and further years (and years) of of being an accompanist enveloped me in his remarkable instrumental and solo vocal works. I absolutely never tire of his music. Now that I'm retired from being a performing musician, I listen to his music almost daily as I delve into my new career as a fabric artist. My husband (a fine tenor) and I spend many enjoyable hours playing and singing Old Johann's arias just to keep ourselves on our toes!

  22. Wonderful painting and thank you for the story!


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