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Family Votive Madonnas
Not less interesting are those votive Madonnas dedicated by the piety of families and individuals. In the family altar-pieces, the votary is often presented on one side by his patron saint, and his wife by her patron on the other.
Half-Length Enthroned Madonnas
As these enthroned and votive Virgins multiplied, as it became more and more a fashion to dedicate them as offerings in churches, want of space, and perhaps, also, regard to expense, suggested the idea of representing the figures half length. The Venetians, from early time the best face-painters in the world, appear to have been the first to cut off the lower part of the figure.
Legends of the Madonna - The Mater Amabilis
There is yet another treatment of the Madonna and Child, in which the Virgin no longer retains the lofty goddess-like exaltation given to her in the old time. She is brought nearer to our sympathies.
Legends of the Madonna - Madre Pia
A beautiful version of the Mater Amabilis is the Madre Pia, where the Virgin in her divine Infant acknowledges and adores the Godhead. We must be careful to distinguish this subject from the Nativity, for it is common, in the scene of the birth of the Saviour at Bethlehem, to represent the Virgin adoring her newborn Child.
Pastoral Madonnas of the Venetian School
The famous Correggio in the Uffizi, Florence, is also a Madre Pia. It is very tender, sweet, and maternal. The Child lying on part of his mother's blue mantle, so arranged that while she kneels and bends over him she cannot change her attitude without disturbing him, is a concetto admired by critics in sentiment and Art.
Legends of the Madonna - Joachim and Anna
In early Art, that is, up to the end of the fifteenth century, Joachim and Anna, the parents of the Virgin, never appear except in the series of subjects from her life. In the devotional groups and altar-pieces they are omitted.
The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin
Although the Nativity of the Virgin Mary is one of the great festivals of the Roman Catholic Church, I have seldom seen it treated as a separate subject and an altar-piece. There is, however, a very remarkable example in the Belle Arti at Siena. It is a triptych inclosed in a framework elaborately carved and gilt, in the Gothic style.
The Presentation of the Virgin
In the interval between the birth of Mary and her consecration in the temple there is no incident which I can remember as being important or popular as a subject of Art.
Legends of the Madonna - The Virgin in the Temple
From the life of the Virgin in the temple we have several beautiful pictures. As she was to be placed before women as an example of every virtue, so she was skilled in all feminine accomplishments. She was as studious, as learned, as wise, as she was industrious, chaste, and temperate.
Legends of the Madonna - The Girlhood of the Virgin
It is recorded that the angels daily ministered to the Virgin and fed her with celestial food. Hence in some early specimens of Art an angel brings her a loaf of bread and a pitcher of water — the bread of life and the water of life from Paradise.
Legends of the Madonna - The Marriage of the Virgin
The very early painters deemed it right to represent Joseph as very old, almost decrepid with age, and supported by a crutch. According to some of the monkish authorities, he was a widower, and eighty-four years old when he was espoused to Mary.
The Life of the Virgin Mary from the Annunciation to the Return from Egypt
The second part of the life of the Virgin Mary begins with the Annunciation and ends with the Crucifixion, comprising all those scriptural incidents which connect her history with that of her Divine Son.
Legends of the Madonna - The Annunciation as a Mystery
Considering the importance given to the Annunciation in its mystical sense, it is strange that we do not find it among the very ancient symbolical subjects adopted in the first ages of Christian Art. It does not appear on the sarcophagi, nor in the early Greek carvings and diptychs, nor in the early mosaics — except once, and then as a part of the history of Christ, not as a symbol.
Legends of the Madonna - The Annunciation as an Event
Had the Annunciation to Mary been merely mentioned as an awful and incomprehensible vision, it would have been better to have adhered to the mystical style of treatment, or left it alone altogether. But the Scripture history, by giving the whole narration as a simple fact, a real event, left it free for representation as such.
Legends of the Madonna - The Visitation
Such a woman as we believe Mary to have been must have loved and honored such a woman as Elizabeth. Wherefore, having heard that Elizabeth had been exalted to a miraculous motherhood, she made haste to visit her, not to ask her advice, but to sympathize with her cousin and reveal what had happened to herself.
Legends of the Madonna - The Dream of Joseph
Although the Feast of the Visitation is fixed for the 2nd of July, it was, and is, a received opinion, that Mary began her journey to the hill country but a short time, even a few days, after the annunciation of the angel.
Legends of the Madonna - The Nativity
The birth of our Saviour is related with characteristic simplicity and brevity in the Gospels, but in the early Christian traditions this great event is preceded and accompanied by several circumstances which have assumed a certain importance and interest in the artistic representations.
Legends of the Madonna - The Nativity as a Mystery
The divine Infant lies in the centre of the picture, sometimes on a white napkin, sometimes with no other bed than the flowery turf. Sometimes his head rests on a wheat-sheaf, always here interpreted as the bread of life.
Legends of the Madonna - The Nativity as an Event
We now come to the Nativity as historically treated, in which time, place, and circumstance have to be considered as in any other actual event. The time was the depth of winter, at midnight. The place a poor stable. According to some authorities, this stable was the interior of a cavern, still shown at Bethlehem as the scene of the Nativity.
Legends of the Madonna - The Adoration of the Shepherds
Being come, they present their pastoral offerings — a lamb, or doves, or fruits (but these, considering the season, are misplaced) They take off their hats with reverence, and worship in rustic fashion. In Raphael's composition (one of the panels of the Loggia, Vatican), the shepherds, as we might expect from him, look as if they had lived in Arcadia.
Legends of the Madonna - The Adoration of the Magi
Magi, in the Persian tongue, signifies wise men. They were, in their own country, kings or princes, as it is averred by all the ancient fathers. They came from the eastern country, but from what country is not said. Whether from the land of the Arabians, or the Chaldeans, or the Persians, or the Parthians.
Legends of the Madonna - The Purification of the Virgin
After the birth of her Son, Mary was careful to fulfil all the ceremonies of the Mosaic law. As a first-born son, he was to be redeemed by the offering of five shekels, or a pair of young pigeons (in memory of the first-born of Egypt).
Legends of the Madonna - The Flight into Egypt
The wrath of Herod against the Magi of the East, who had escaped from his power, enhanced by his fears of the divine and kingly Infant, occasioned the Massacre of the Innocents, which led to the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt.
Legends of the Madonna - The Repose of the Holy Family
The subject generally styled a Riposo is one of the most graceful and most attractive in the whole range of Christian Art. It is not, however, an ancient subject, for I cannot recall an instance earlier than the sixteenth century.
Legends of the Madonna - The Legend of the Gypsy
In the Provençal ballad there are three gypsies, men, not women, introduced, who tell the fortune of the Virgin and Joseph, as well as that of the Child, and end by begging alms to wet their thirsty throats.
Legends of the Madonna - The Return From Egypt
According to some authorities, the Holy Family sojourned in Egypt during a period of seven years, but others assert that they returned to Judea at the end of two years. In general, the painters have expressed the Return from Egypt by exhibiting Jesus as no longer an infant sustained in his mother's arms, but as a boy walking at her side.
Legends of the Madonna - The Holy Family
It is, indeed, common to class all those pictures as Holy Families which include any of the relatives of Christ grouped with the Mother and her Child. But I must here recapitulate and insist upon the distinction to be drawn between the domestic and the devotional treatment of the subject.
Legends of the Madonna - Two Figures
The simplest form of the family group is confined to two figures, and expresses merely the relation between the Mother and the Child. The motif is precisely the same as in the formal, goddess-like, enthroned Madonnas of the antique time.
Legends of the Madonna - Three Figures
The group of three figures most commonly met with is that of the Mother and Child with St. John. One of the earliest examples of the domestic treatment of this group is a quaint picture by Botticelli, in which Mary, bending down, holds forth the Child to be caressed by St. John—very dry in color, and faulty in drawing, but beautiful for the sentiment.
Legends of the Madonna - Four Figures
In a Holy Family of four figures, we have frequently the Virgin, the Child, and the Infant St. John, with St. Joseph standing by. Raphael's Madonna del Passeggio is an example. In a picture by Palma Vecchio, St. John presents a lamb, while St. Joseph kneels before the Infant Christ, who, seated on his mother's knee, extends his arms to his foster father.
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