Friday, February 15, 2019

15C Madonna in the Garden - Garden in Portrait Background

Virgin and Mary Magdalene and a donor, ca 1475, by the Master of the View of St Gudula (active ca 1470-1490

Illustrated manuscripts & early depictions of Biblical Gardens & Landscapes give a glimpse of gardens symbolic, familiar, & imagined by artists & their clients during those periods. The beds & the garden wall are particularly interesting, as are the fashionable young men gazing at the ships..

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Madonna in the Garden - Madonna of Humility sitting in a Garden with a Flowery Mead of Wildflowers

Madonna of Humility by Domenico di Bartolo, 1433.

A Mead is a medieval garden component designed to imitate a small meadow or sometimes a larger, natural meadow. A Flowery Mead is a medieval term for a lawn rich in wild flowers. A flowery mead is often one of the essential components of a medieval garden. The flowery mead depicted is seldom within a distinct, geometric, larger garden.  Albertus Magnus (c 1200-1280), a German Dominican friar & a Catholic bishop, was a great admirer of lawns & flowery meads "For the sight is in now way so pleasantly refreshed as by fine and close grass kept short." Most writers recommend digging out the original 'waste' plants, killing the seeds in the soil by flooding with boiling water, then laying out the lawn with curves laid in and pounded well. Another writer recommended mowing them twice a year; lawn mowing would have been done with scythes or primitive shears. 

Madonna of Humility refers to artistic portrayals of a humble Virgin Mary depicting her sitting on the ground, or sitting upon a low cushion. Humility was a virtue extolled by Saint Francis of Assisi, and this style of image was a favorite of Franciscan piety. The word humility, from the Latin humus, meaning earth or ground (humus = humilitas.) One of the most popular imagespresentations of the Virgin toward the end of the Middle Ages is the image of Mary as the Virgin of Humility. An early image in this style is the fresco of Simone Martini painted v. 1335-40 above the door under the west porch of the Cathedral of Avignon. The fresco shows the Virgin holding the child Jesus in her arms, sitting on the ground. This theme emerges at a period in the history of Christianity, when negative religious connotations of the earth faded replaced by the concept of nature as ​​a creative force. The earliest surviving works of this particular portrayal of the Virgin are found in frescoes & panel paintings in Italy & Avignon from the 1340s.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Madonna in the Garden - In Flowery mead attr to Jacopo Pontormo (Italian, 1494–1557)

Jacopo Carucci known as Jacopo da Pontormo, Jacopo Pontormo or simply Pontormo, (Italian Mannerist painter, 1494–1557) Madonna and Child with young St John the Baptist. Here the Madonna sits barefoot in a flowery mead of wildflowers.

A Mead is a medieval garden designed to imitate a small meadow or sometimes a larger, natural meadow. A Flowery Mead is a medieval term for a lawn rich in wild flowers. A flowery mead is often one of the essential components of a medieval garden. The flowery mead is seldom depicted within a distinct, geometric, larger garden. Albertus Magnus (c 1200-1280), a German Dominican friar & a Catholic bishop, was a great admirer of lawns & flowery meads "For the sight is in now way so pleasantly refreshed as by fine and close grass kept short." Most writers recommend digging out the original 'waste' plants, killing the seeds in the soil by flooding with boiling water, then laying out the lawn with curves laid in and pounded well. Another writer recommended mowing them twice a year; lawn mowing would have been done with scythes or primitive shears.  The flowery mead is one of the essential components of the literary medieval garden. Poet Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) in his 1348 Decameron wrote "in the midst of the garden a lawn of very fine grass, so green it seemed nearly black, colored with perhaps a thousand kind of flowers……shut in with very green citrus & orange trees bearing, at the same time, both ripe fruit & young fruit & flowers so that they pleased the sense of smell as well as charmed the eyes with shade."

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Madonna in the Garden - Virgin & Child sitting before a Formal, Walled Garden 1465 Attr to Hans Memling (Flemish painter, 1435-1494)

Hans Memling (German-born Flemish painter, 1435-1494) Virgin and Child Enthroned with two Musical Angels 1465-67. Here the Virgin sits before a traditional, geometric, enclosed, raised-bed garden.

Illustrated manuscripts and early depictions of landscapes in portrayals of Biblical gardens give us a glimpse of gardens familiar & imagined during those periods. Many images of medieval gardens are allegorical or metaphorical, rather than realistic representations of specific medieval gardens. The Virgin Mary begins to appear in contrived, formal gardens & in more natural cultural landscapes in images in the 1300s. 

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Madonna in the Garden - Virgin with Roses attributed to Sandro Botticelli 1445-1510

Sandro Botticelli (Italian artist, 1445-1510) Madonna and Child with a young John the Baptist by Roses

Illustrated manuscripts and early depictions of landscapes in portrayals of Biblical gardens give us a glimpse of gardens familiar & imagined, symbolic & real, during those periods. Here the Virgin is depicted with roses, suggesting metaphorical associations with the paradise bower of the Song of Songs. The rose is a symbol that has a complex symbolism and an ancient history. In the Christian religion, like the cross, it can have paradoxical meanings. It is at once a symbol of purity and a symbol of passion, heavenly perfection and earthly passion; virginity and fertility; death and life. In Catholic symbolism, the red rose is a symbol of Martyrdom, while the white rose is a symbol of purity since the earliest years of the Church. The Virgin Mary is called a 'rose without thorns,' because she was exempt from Original Sin. In Renaissance art, a garland of roses is often an allusion to the Rosary of the Virgin.