Friday, November 10, 2017

08 Paintings, RELIGIOUS ART - Interpretations of the Bible! by The Old Masters, With Footnotes # 63

School of Sir Anthony van Dyck
Madonna and Child 
Oil on canvas 
34 3/4 x 28 1/2 inches (88.3 x 72.5 cm) 
Private collection


The Nursing Madonna, Virgo Lactans, or Madonna Lactans, is an iconography of the Madonna and Child in which the Virgin Mary is shown breastfeeding the infant Jesus.

The depiction is mentioned by Pope Gregory the Great, and a mosaic depiction probably of the 12th century is on the facade of Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome, though few other examples survive from before the late Middle Ages. It continued to be found in Orthodox icons, especially in Russia.

In the Middle Ages, the middle and upper classes usually contracted breastfeeding out to wetnurses, and the depiction of the Nursing Madonna was linked with the Madonna of Humility, a depiction that showed the Virgin in more ordinary clothes than the royal robes shown, for instance, in images of the Coronation of the Virgin, and often seated on the ground. The appearance of a large number of such depictions in Tuscany in the early 14th century was something of a visual revolution for the theology of the time, compared to the Queen of Heaven depictions. After the Council of Trent in the mid-16th century, clerical writers discouraged nudity in religious subjects, and the use of the Madonna Lactans iconography began to fade away. More on the nursing Madonna

Sir Anthony van Dyck, ( 22 March 1599 – 9 December 1641) was a Flemish Baroque artist who became the leading court painter in England, after enjoying great success in Italy and Flanders. He is most famous for his portraits of Charles I of England and his family and court, painted with a relaxed elegance that was to be the dominant influence on English portrait-painting for the next 150 years. He also painted biblical and mythological subjects, displayed outstanding facility as a draughtsman, and was an important innovator in watercolour and etching. The Van Dyke beard is named after him. More Sir Anthony van Dyck


William-Adolphe Bouguereau, (1825–1905)
Berceuse (Le coucher), c. 1873
Oil on canvas
112 x 86.5 cm
Private collection

Starting in 1865, Bouguereau became enamored with the theme of mothers and children and began a series of paintings dedicated to this subject matter. 

Berceuse (Le coucher) was painted in the artist's Paris studio in 1873. In the present painting, a young Roman mother holds a naked infant and is gently moving him into his cradle. The central group is framed by the draped cradle to the left of the composition and the large stone fireplace that dominates the background. The figures, clearly a secularized interpretation of a Virgin and ChildMore on this painting



William-Adolphe Bouguereau (November 30, 1825 – August 19, 1905) was a French academic painter and traditionalist. In his realistic genre paintings he used mythological themes, making modern interpretations of classical subjects, with an emphasis on the female human body. During his life he enjoyed significant popularity in France and the United States, was given numerous official honors, and received top prices for his work. As the quintessential salon painter of his generation, he was reviled by the Impressionist avant-garde. By the early twentieth century, Bouguereau and his art fell out of favor with the public, due in part to changing tastes. In the 1980s, a revival of interest in figure painting led to a rediscovery of Bouguereau and his work. Throughout the course of his life, Bouguereau executed 822 known finished paintings, although the whereabouts of many are still unknown. More William-Adolphe Bouguereau



Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida, Valencia, 1863 - Cercedilla, Madrid, 1923
Saint in Prayer, 1888
Oil on canvas
78 x 61 cm
Museo Nacional del Prado

For Sorolla and his wife, the time spent in Italy formed part of the years at the beginning of their relationship when they confronted their first difficulties together. As late as 1915, nearly thirty years after this trip, Sorolla noted in a letter to his wife that he had ‘ordered a little frame for the Virgin you gave me when I left Spain to study in Rome. I think it looks good on it and will make me less likely to lose an object which I keep with me at all times.’ Known as Praying Saint, this picture also bears the evocative title of Figure of an Italian Saint for its obvious connections with that period, and it must have been one of the memories the couple treasured from that time. This would explain why they always kept it in a special place in their house, as revealed by many of the photographs of the artist’s various studios and dwellings. More on this painting

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (27 February 1863 – 10 August 1923) was a Spanish painter. Sorolla excelled in the painting of portraits, landscapes, and monumental works of social and historical themes. His most typical works are characterized by a dexterous representation of the people and landscape under the sunlight of his native land. More on Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida

Peter Paul Rubens, (1577–1640)
Daniel in the Lions' Den, between circa 1614 and circa 1616
Oil on canvas
224.2 × 330.5 cm (88.3 × 130.1 in)
National Gallery of Art

The Old Testament recounts how the Persian king Darius I "The Great" (550–486 BC) condemned the devout and steadfast Daniel to spend the night in a lions' den for worshipping God rather than him. The following morning, after the stone sealing the entrance was rolled away, the astonished Persians saw Daniel, very much alive, giving thanks to God for keeping him safe overnight: "Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt." (Daniel 6:21–22) For theologians, Daniel's miraculous survival in the cave symbolized the resurrection of Christ from his tomb, and the promise of God's protection to those of unwavering faith. More on this painting

Flemish School, 17th Century, Follower Peter Paul Rubens
Daniel in the lion’s den
Oak panel
9 5/8 x 12 in
Private collection

Sir Peter Paul Rubens (28 June 1577 – 30 May 1640) was a Flemish Baroque painter. A proponent of an extravagant Baroque style that emphasized movement, colour, and sensuality, Rubens is well known for his Counter-Reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects.
In addition to running a large studio in Antwerp that produced paintings popular with nobility and art collectors throughout Europe, Rubens was a classically educated humanist scholar and diplomat who was knighted by both Philip IV of Spain and Charles I of England.  More Sir Peter Paul Rubens


Attributed to Marco Pino Siena, 1521 - Naples, 1583 
Holy Family with St. John the Baptist 
Oil on panel 
h: 65.50 w: 57 cm
Private collection

Marco Pino or Marco da Siena (1521–1583) was an Italian painter of the Renaissance and Mannerist period. Born and first trained in Siena, he later worked in Rome and in Naples, where he died. He was putatively a pupil of the painters Beccafumi and Daniele da Volterra. 

Among his pupils in Messina was his son-in-law, Antonio Spanò . Fabrizio Santafede was his pupil in Naples. More on Marco Pino

Tuscan school of the sixteenth century 
Maria Madgalena, Tuscany, 16th Century 
Oil on panel 
h: 97 w: 71 cm 
Private collection

Mary Magdalene was a Jewish woman who, according to texts included in the New Testament, traveled with Jesus as one of his followers. She is said to have witnessed Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. Based on texts of the early Christian era in the third century, it seems that her status as an “apostle" rivals even Peter's.

She is most prominent in the narrative of the crucifixion of Jesus, at which she was present. She was also present two days later, either alone or as a member of a group of women, the first to testify to the resurrection of Jesus.

Ideas that go beyond the gospel presentation of Mary Magdalene as a prominent representative of the women who followed Jesus have been put forward over the centuries.


During the Middle Ages, Mary Magdalene was regarded in Western Christianity as a repentant prostitute or promiscuous woman, claims not found in any of the four canonical gospels. More Mary Magdalene

Arts of the late 15th century and early 16th century were dominated by three men. They were Michelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci.

Michelangelo excelled as a painter, architect, and poet. In addition, he has been called the greatest sculptor in history. Raphael's paintings are softer in outline and more poetic than those of Michelangelo. Raphael was skilled in creating perspective and in the delicate use of color. Leonardo da Vinci painted two of the most famous works of Renaissance art, the wallpainting The Last Supper and the portrait Mona Lisa. Due to his inquiring mind, Leonardo has become a symbol of the Renaissance spirit of learning and intellectual curiosity. More on Italian art

Seventeenth century Spanish school 
The martyrdom of San Sebastian 
Oil on canvas 
h: 160 w: 106 cm 
Private collection

Saint Sebastian (died c. 288 AD) was an early Christian saint and martyr. Sebastian had prudently concealed his faith, but in 286 was detected. Diocletian reproached him for his betrayal, and he commanded him to be led to a field and there to be bound to a stake so that archers from Mauritania would shoot arrows at him. "And the archers shot at him till he was as full of arrows as an urchin is full of pricks, and thus left him there for dead." Miraculously, the arrows did not kill him.


Sebastian later stood by a staircase where the emperor was to pass and harangued Diocletian for his cruelties against Christians. This freedom of speech, and from a person whom he supposed to have been dead, greatly astonished the emperor; but, recovering from his surprise, he gave orders for his being seized and beat to death with cudgels, and his body thrown into the common sewer. A pious lady, called Lucina, admonished by the martyr in a vision, got it privately removed, and buried it in the catacombs at the entrance of the cemetery of Calixtus, where now stands the Basilica of St. Sebastian. More St. Sebastian

The Spanish Golden Age is a period of flourishing in arts and literature in Spain, coinciding with the political rise of the Spanish Habsburg dynasty. El Siglo de Oro does not imply precise dates and is usually considered to have lasted longer than an actual century. It begins no earlier than 1492, with the end of the Reconquista (Reconquest), the sea voyages of Christopher Columbus to the New World. Politically, it ends no later than 1659, with the Treaty of the Pyrenees, ratified between France and Habsburg Spain. The last great writer of the period, Pedro Calderón de la Barca, died in 1681, and his death usually is considered the end of El Siglo de Oro in the arts and literature. More on Seventeenth century Spanish school 







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