Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Wednesday 14th December - Madonna and Child

After yesterday's brush with the 'lumbersexual' Angel of Death, I think we need something far more wholesome today...

Madonna and Child Enric Monserday Vidal
Ah, that's better.  Okay, I'll see you tomorrow.

Only joking, this gorgeous Madonna and Baby Jesus is the work of Enric Monserday Vidal (1850-1926), a Spanish artist who did a few rather gorgeous Madonna pictures in his time.  The one above has to be my favourite.  I must apologise that I couldn't get a decent image of it in its frame because the frame is astonishing.  Here is a rather blurry image of it...
Mmm, pointy...

Anyway, Vidal's angels are quite traditional adoring angels, kneeling on their little step (which I grant you is a little weird but I suppose it keeps their frocks free of grass-stains).  They have a little heavenly band going with a lute, a weird flute-y thing and a tiny drum.  I can only assume the one at the back on the left is playing the kazoo as is traditional.  Mary gets a crown! I can't express how chuffed I am for Mary that she gets a proper crown for Christmas, and not just one of those rubbish tissue paper ones that comes in crackers.  On a side note, I have gone a bit mad and am making my own crackers this year.  I am refusing to make tissue paper crowns because they are rubbish and instead am making felt ones with sparkles sewn to them that we can reuse year after year. I may have eaten a lot of sugar at the point when I decided this but I generally loathe shop-bought crackers because they are naff unless you spend a ridiculous amount of money on them and then I get cracker envy and it all goes wrong.  I have cracker snaps and everything.  Bring it on.  Sorry, I have wandered off subject.  Ah, yes, angels...

Adoration of the Shepherds
In this painting, Vidal gives us fluttering angels, hovering above and holding up the crown, which is nice because it does look heavy.  The shepherds have arrived with their lambs - don't get me started on the presence of lambs.  I ended up having a bit of a 'discussion' with my father about when Mary actually gave birth after he had to drive home from seeing Lily on her birthday in the dark.  I apologised that both I and the Virgin Mary had made the mistake of giving birth during the darkest and most inconvenient month of the year and Dad pointed out that Mary probably gave birth in the summer.  Yes, yes, I know, but it's Christmas, just go with it. The shepherds and wise men can turn up with whatever they want frankly, as I don't think we need to be literal.  Just because something is out of season doesn't mean that the Son of God can't have it for a birthday present.  Plus I think on balance I'd rather have asparagus than Myrrh.  However, there is always that one present someone gives you when you have a baby which you have no idea what you're going to do with it.

The Crowning of a Mother
I love Vidal's colour palate, with those clear bright blues and rosy pinks.  It's very Christmas card-y and reminds me of Sunday School and children's Bibles but in the best possible way.  No, it is not realistic, with our little golden haired Jesus and his European mum, but it is sweet and pretty and joyful.  The little angels have lost their wings in this one, and had their instruments taken off them, but are enjoying the whole business very much, which is nice.  Thinking back to Sunday School, there is often a conflation of angels with 'nice children'.  There are a number of nineteenth and early twentieth century Bible illustrations that have little blonde girls as angels, like the ultimate school nativity.  Is it a way of alluding to the fact that high infant mortality equalled instant angel?  Did people believe that a child, being free of sin and all that business would get wings if they popped off in an untimely manner?  I wonder if the occurrence of wingless angel corresponded to childhood mortality? That's rather sobering...
 
Trellis detail
 
Step detail
Back to our original picture and the overwhelming use of gold, the way the trellis creates space within the image and the subtle patterning on the step are delicate and genuinely celebratory.  The patterns on the top of the trellis, overgrown by ivy, echo the roundels on the step, giving a vaguely Middle Eastern taste to an otherwise very Anglo-Saxon picture. I love the happy band of angels with their musical instruments, but am now wondering if there is a specific set of instruments in a heavenly orchestra.  I'm off to have a bit of a research and I'll be back with you tomorrow...




No comments:

Post a comment

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