Friday, 21 December 2012

21st December - Madonna and Child

Welcome to the shortest day of the year, and the longest night (she says, with a raised eyebrow).  Yes, I know, it was also meant to be the end of the world, but as it turned out, the world didn't end and so we're having a little celebration this evening as school has finished and neither Mr Walker or I have to be in work again until next year.  Hurrah! Swedish cider all round!

It did strike me that it would have been a pity if the world had ended at 11.15 this morning, as I have some lovely pictures lined up for the last few blogvent entries.  Today is a treble dose of Mary-and-Jesus, courtesy of Marianne Stokes. First of all, we have possibly the best known Virgin and Child of the Victorian/Edwardian era...

Madonna and Child
A glorious painting, this was one of our Christmas stamps a couple of years back and it remains one of my favourite Christmas images as it is so damn fine.  There is something so striking about the dark midnight blue, the gold and the vivid red which is so commanding, yet the expression on Mary's face is so calm.  She manages to juxtapose the pale child with the hard strands of thorns, adding drama to the image, and there is something slightly shroud-like about the swaddling around Jesus, but they both look unconcerned as if they know what is ahead and that it will be alright.

Madonna and Child

Less dramatic and more traditional, Stokes' second Madonna is a vision in blue, with a landscape in the background and the tiniest baby imaginable.  He is a very small Jesus, a pocket Jesus or maybe I'm a bit biased because Lily was a very large baby (she was a normal weight but really tall and had lots of hair, but I digress).  I like the detail of the lily and the apple, like a balance between innocence and experience.  As well as these two, Stokes also painted this image of the Holy duo...

Angels Entertaining the Holy Child (1893)
I love this picture as it is a realistic depiction of motherhood, in that I was often found slumped somewhere exhausted.  Often in a shed.  The angels are strumming away and the baby looks happy enough, but it is Mary, sound off against some hay that makes me smile.  I hope they don't wake her up, mind you, if she's anything like me she won't stir until a cow steps on her foot.

We're getting awfully close to the big day now, and it's nice to see such striking images of the main event, if you will.  Marianne Stokes gives us a Madonna who is vivid and beautiful, a Madonna who is pale and untouchable, and a Madonna who is asleep.  That just about covers it.

I'm off to celebrate the end of term and I shall see you tomorrow!


  1. Oh my goodness! Why have I not seen that Madonna and Child? It's so beautiful it hurts!

  2. Marianne Stokes is amazing. Fact. Her Madonnas seem to have an honesty and realism which is most welcome.

    Thanks for the comment :)

  3. I am intrigued by the Virgin Mary wearing a red cloak in the first picture. Yes, it's a red cloak with blue trim, but it is definitely a very striking and very, very bright red. It is usually Jesus himself pictured wearing red. The Virgin Mary is, like in Stokes second two pictures, usually wearing all blue with possibly a white mantle symbolising purity.

  4. I think she's allowed a little red number, I always think red looks good at this time of year. I think it's rather swishy with the navy trim. You're right though, she does usually stick to blue. I had to explain to my daughter about why she wore blue, that was a very long conversation...


Many thanks for your comment. I shall post it up shortly! Kx