Sunday, February 25, 2018

Madonna of Humility in a Garden - With 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)  Madonna by a Grassy Bank. The Virgin and Child  in a hortus conclusus (enclosed garden) with Angels, c 1430. This is also is in the form of a Madonna of Humility seated on the ground  - to indicate her humility. She is sitting in a bed of wildflowers.

Themes traditionally associated with the Madonna are combined here: the Madonna of Humility appears in a Hortus Conclusus, or enclosed garden. In the hortus coclusus, Mary is allegorically represented as a fortress. From a practical perspective, for the medieval woman, the enclosed garden was designed to prove & maintain her loyalty to her entitled spouse. 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 wives remained inaccessible to rapists or suitors.

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.

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 a medieval garden. Poet Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) in his Decameronof 1348 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."

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 one of the first great masters of Flemish and Early Netherlandish painting.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Madonna in the Garden - With Roses attr to Stephano da Verona 1379-1438

Stephano da Verona (1379-1438) The Virgin and Child with Angels, c 1430

Here the Virgins sit within enclosed gardens lined with roses, suggesting metaphorical associations with the paradise bower of the Song of Songs. The rose is a symbol that has a rich and 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. 

The Glastonbury or Christmas Rose is both the symbol for the Mother of God and for the Infant King, who came to earth to be crowned with thorns as part of His Death whereby He renders atonement to God the Father for the sins of mankind. The Glastonbury or Christmas Rose is an exquisite flower but it also bears the sharpest of thorns, like those that were plaited into Jesus's Passion crown. This special Rose, reportedly blooms just before dawn on January 6, the Feast of Epiphany. 
Stephano da Verona (1379-1438) Madonna of the Rosary 1409

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Monday, February 19, 2018

Madonna of Humility - 15C Hortus Conclusus

 Giovanni di Paolo (Italian (Sienese), about 1399–1482) 1442 Madonna of Humility. Museum of Fine Arts in Boston

Here Giovanni di Paolo depicts the Christian Virgin Mary seated on the ground to indicate her humility, cradling her Child against a backdrop of strawberries & wildflowers within a sheltering, protective screen of fruit trees. In the distance stretches a real world landscape of cultivated fields, stony roads, & fortified towns. 

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.

Of this painting of a Hortus Conclusus, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston tells us that the artist is emphasizing religious sentiment & decorative patterning rather than reality, the illusion of depth & three-dimensional form. 

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 which depict her as a Madonna sitting on the ground, or sitting upon a low cushion. The earliest surviving works of this particular portrayal of the Virgin are found in frescoes & panel paintings in Italy & Avignon from the 1340s. In the hortus coclusus, Mary is allegorically represented as a fortress. For the medieval woman, the enclosed garden was designed to prove & maintain her loyalty to her entitled spouse. 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 wives remained inaccessible to rapists or suitors.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Madonna in the Garden - 15C Madonna of Humility on a Crescent Moon in Hortus Conclusus


Unknown Master, German (active 1450s in Cologne). Madonna on a Crescent Moon in Hortus Conclusus

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

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Madonna in the Garden - With Roses attr to Domenico Veneziano c 1405-1461

1447 Domenico Veneziano (c. 1405-1461). Madonna and Child

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 seated by roses, suggest 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. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Madonna in the Garden - Virgin Mary with Roses attr 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 1460-80 Madonna of the roses

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.