Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Madonna of Bruges

A Michelangelo in Belgium. To quote Mary Ann Sullivan, of Bluffton University:
Scholars have speculated that this work was first conceived for an altar in the Siena Duomo commissioned by Cardinal Francesco Piccolomini. At some point Michelangelo must have been persuaded to sell the sculpture to an affluent Bruges gentleman, Jan de Moscron, who in 1514 donated the work as part of a sumptuous altar to the Church of Our Lady. It is also speculated that the sculpture had originally been conceived with a lower viewing angle, which would explain the odd proportions and the downcast eyes of both Jesus and Mary. During Michelangelo's lifetime, this work was the sole sculpture by him outside of Italy although today both the Louvre and the Hermitage own works by him...
Unlike many depictions of the Madonna and Child, this work is sober and serious. Symbolically, it illustrates the traditional idea that the Virgin was aware of her Child's tragic destiny; her pensive gaze seems to reflect this. In addition, Jesus steps down from her lap as if he too is aware of his future role. Here he seems ready to walk and to begin symbolically the journey that will lead to his Passion.

(Image credits and permissions, HERE and HERE.)

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