Wednesday, January 16, 2019

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

Sandro Botticelli (Italian artist, 1445-1510) Madonna and Child Crowned by Angels amid Roses, detail 

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. 

Monday, January 14, 2019

Madonna in the Garden - Virgin Mary with Roses attributed to Pseudo-Pier Francesco Fiorentino (active Florence, 2nd half of the 15C)

Attributed to Pseudo-Pier Francesco Fiorentino (active Florence, second half of the 15th Century) Madonna and child with goldfinch

Illustrated manuscripts and early depictions of landscapes in portrayals of Biblical gardens give us a glimpse of gardens familiar & imagined during those periods. Here the Virgins before background screens of 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. 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. 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Madonna of Humility in a Garden - In a Flowery Mead of Wildflowers Underfoot attr to Master of Flémalle or Robert Campin 1375-1444

Attributed to Master of Flémalle or Robert Campin (1375-1444) Virgin and Child with Saints in an Enclosed Garden. This is also in the form of a Madonna of Humility seated on the ground  - to indicate her humility - She is sitting in a bed of wildflowers, a flowery Mead but with a formal, elegant background.  

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 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. 

The spot is sealed off from the remainder of the landscape by a architectural image instead of the more traditional fence or hedge of the hortus conclusus, or enclosed garden.  Here the plants in the garden beyond, are seen peeking above the architectural image

Themes traditionally associated with the Madonna are combined here: the Madonna of Humility appears in a Hortus Conclusus, or enclosed garden. 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 visual representations 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. Robert Campin, 1375-1444, who is now usually identified as the artist known as the Master of Flémalle, is considered a great master of Flemish and Early Netherlandish painting.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Madonna in the Garden - Virgin Mary with Roses attributed to Biagio D'Antonio 1466-1516

 Biagio D'Antonio (1466-1516) Madonna and Infant with Angel & Roses

Illustrated manuscripts and early depictions of landscapes in portrayals of Biblical gardens give us a glimpse of gardens familiar & imagined during those periods. 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. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Madonna in the Garden - Virgin Mary in a Flowery Mead Hortus Conclusus (which is very crowded !!) attr Alessio Baldovinetti 1425-1499

Alessio Baldovinetti (1425-1499) Mother and Child in an enclosed garden which is a flowery mead surrounded by Saints

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. Illustrated manuscripts and early depictions of landscapes in portrayals of Biblical gardens give us a glimpse of gardens familiar & imagined during those periods. 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Madonna in the Garden - Madonna of Humility in an Enclosed Garden or Hortus Conclusus - Attr to Hans Memling (German-born Flemish painter, 1435-1494)

Hans Memling (German-born Flemish painter, 1435-1494) Virgin and Child with Musician Angels in an Enclosed Garden 1480

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. 

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 visual representations 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.

Hortus conclusus is both an emblematic attribute & a title of the Virgin Mary in Medieval & Renaissance poetry & art, appearing in paintings & manuscript illuminations as well as a type of an actual garden form of the period which was enclosed both symbolically & actually. Since Mary's purity was seen as the equivalent of great beauty, the enclosed garden is often depicted as a "paradise garden" filled with flowers & aromatic plants. Paradise was originally a Persian name (paradeisos) for a park stocked with exotic animals, & the word Paradise was used by the Greeks to mean 'an ideal place.'

Hortus conclusus is a Latin term, meaning literally "enclosed garden." The secluded garden, or ‘hortus conclusus,’ was associated with the Virgin Mary usually in a monastery garden. After the fall of Rome, medieval Europe (500-1500 AD) was in transition. Rulers were fighting wars against other rival kings & Christians were launching crusades. Castles & monasteries were built high on hills or mountains & walls were erected to protect against invaders. Gardens usually were hedged or walled to protect not only against invading enemies but also against interlopers, thieves, & marauding livestock.  Monasteries also followed this layout & there the garden is known as the the "cloister garden" from Latin claustrum, "enclosure." With the number of monasteries at their highest during the medieval period, increased of devotion to Mary popularized the hortus conclusus. The Mary Garden was most likely evolved from the monastery's cloister, a walled garden with a fountain or well in the center. 

This enclosed garden (hortus conclusus) is the symbol of the Virgin's purity, with its peaceful mood, its protected area, its fruits & flowers. The image of the hortus conclusus is intended to evoke the ancient, original, pre-sin harmony of the universe, of divine, human, animal & vegetable worlds. The Virgin Mary, sitting in an enclosed garden or hortus conclusus, symbolizes her unassailable virginity. Mary was invulnerable, untouchable, sacrosanct, hallowed, faultless, immaculate, spotless, undefiled, uncorrupted.

Christian tradition asserts that Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit to a young Mary miraculously without disrupting her virginity. As such, Mary in late medieval & Renaissance art, illustrating the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, was shown in or near a walled garden or yard. This was a representation of her Immaculate Conception, & also of her being protected, here by a wall or hedge, from sin. 

The flowers grown & depicted in a garden dedicated to the Madonna took on a symbolism to represent the qualities of the Virgin Mary. The primary flowers are the rose (martyrdom); the lily (purity); & the violet (humility). Many representations of the hortus conclusus contain some of the Christian emblematic objects of the Immaculate Conception: an enclosed garden (hortus conclusus); a tall cedar - tree of life (cedrus exalta); a well of living waters (puteus aquarum viventium); an olive tree - tree of life (oliva speciosa); a fountain in the garden (fons hortorum); a rosebush (plantatio rosae). The fountain in the garden symbolizes the Virgin's purity & abundant giving. Occasionally, there is a unicorn which represents the mystical hunt, an allegory of the Incarnation. Not all depictions of medieval horti conclusi included these details.

The term hortus conclusus is derived from the Vulgate Bible's Canticle of Canticles (also called the Song of Songs or Song of Solomon) 4:12, in Latin: "Hortus conclusus soror mea, sponsa, hortus conclusus, fons signatus" ("A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up.") This format provided a linguistic culture of Christendom, expressed in the Song of Songs as allegory where the image of King Solomon's nuptial song to his bride was reinterpreted as the love & union between Christ & the Church, the mystical marriage with the Church as the Bride of Christ. The verse "Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee" from the Song expresses confirmation of the doctrine of Mary's Immaculate Conception-birth without Original Sin ("macula" is Latin for spot).

When the Virgin sits in a small, enclosed garden within a hedge of thorny roses or surrounded by a wall, Mary is allegorically represented as a fortress. For the medieval woman, the enclosed garden was designed to prove & maintain her loyalty. Purity of the bloodlines was a great socital concern for the medieval husband. When kings & lords left home to go to battle, they wanted to feel assured that their beloveds & wives remained inaccessible to rapists or suitors.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Madonna of Humility - 15C Hortus Conclusus

Illustrated manuscripts and early depictions 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 both contrived, formal gardens & in more natural cultural landscape images in the 1300s. 
The Madonna of the Rose Garden St. with Catherine of Alexandria (Madonna del Roseto) is attributed to Michelino da Besozzo or Stefano da Verona. Dating to c. 1420–1435. Castelvecchio Museum of Verona.

Illustrated manuscripts and early depictions of landscapes in portrayals of Biblical gardens give us a glimpse of gardens familiar & imagined during those periods. The theme of the Virgin in a garden can be found in the Biblical book Song of Solomon 2:2: I am the Rose of Sharon, The lily of the valleys. As a lily among the thistles, So is my beloved among girls. And from Solomon 4:12: A garden locked is my sister, my bride, A rock garden locked, a spring sealed up

Mary was often depicted as a symbol of wisdom, & she was represented in many paintings with an open book. The Biblical book of Ecclesiasticus 24:14, also refers to roses & palm trees (with which the virgin is sometimes associated): I have grown tall as a palm in En-Gedi, As the rose bushes of Jericho. Sometimes Mary was called "The Rose of Jericho."

Here Mary sits within an enclosed garden lined with roses, suggesting metaphorical associations with the paradise bower of the Song of Songs. In this work, the Virgin, seated on the ground to indicate her humility. 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 visual representations 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 painting shows the traditional theme of the Madonna with Child within an enclosure of roses, a hortus conclusus, symbol of her virginity, in the presence of St. Catherine of Alexandria. The latter, as a princess, is crowned, & is accompanied by her martyrdom at the torture wheel. There are also numerous angels. They are performing a series of activities: reading; collecting petals of rose; playing near a Gothic font (symbolizing the definition of Mary as Fons gratiae, "Spring of Grace"). Two peacocks are roaming in the garden: they are a symbol of the immortality of Christ since early Christian times, when their flesh was considered not liable to rot.