Seeing Madonna and Child
Paris France x Berlin Germany xBarcelona Spain x London UK

Since ancient times, human beings have had faith in God, and the earliest works of art have appeared in the halls of God, showing the sacred and beautiful realm. So I went to the major museums in the four major cities of Europe to find the historical track of the paintings ( the Madonna and Child), to inspire me to explore the various possibilities of artistic creation between the mother and the child topic.Therefore, I visited the Louvre Museum in Paris, Kulturforum Museums in Berlin, the Catalonia Gallery in Barcelona, ​​and the National Gallery in London.

 Kulturforum Museums in Berlin


"The Madonna" is a watershed in the Renaissance. The image changes are so different. What changes have been made and what are the reasons for the change?

Given the humanistic trend of thought, the artist expresses God and interprets the doctrine from a more human perspective. Also due to the development of art, in addition to the church's large number of art to praise God, highlighting the existence and greatness of God, especially the performance of holiness, love and innocence, "The Madonna and Child" is a long-lasting hot theme.

From the beginning of the twelfth century, a remarkable phenomenon emerged, the rise of the worship of the Virgin. We know that men dominate Christianity as orthodox worshippers such as the Trinity, which means that it is including the God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

However, among the broad masses of the people, the status of the Virgin Mary has become more and more prominent, and even it affects the religious circles.If we open up the religious significance of the worship of the Virgin, we can understand it easily:The image of a gentlewoman with a baby is far more intimate and warmer than the abstract "trinity" image.

Catalonia Gallery in Barcelona

Therefore, the image of the Virgin fully expresses the admiration of women and mothers. This style of painting not only conquers the hearts of the people but also infects serious religious art and quietly transitions to human art. Therefore, this seems to mean the status of women which means that gentle power is deeper into the hearts of the people. 

The Virgin of the Florence period is mostly portrayed as a civilian-like, maternal feeling. The whole painting is pure, kind, and amiable and full of maternal love and human touch. Raphael deals with religious themes in a way that is close to secularization, applying the image of the warm interaction between mothers and children in daily life to the subject of the Madonna and the Holy Child, and idealizing them.

Louvre Museum in Paris

For example:

The early Raphael's Madonna and Child created by Perugino's style  devout religious theme.


Madonna with Child and Saints c. 1502

Solly Madonna c. 1502

Kulturforum Museums in Berlin

From about 1502 to 1504, his work presented an exciting common feature, that is, the main body of the Madonna is in the picture, and she is reading in her hand. And the holy baby in the arms is very inborn because he turns his head to the direction of the Bible as if to know his origins and mission. 

Raphael's art is based on a harmonious and solemn classical aesthetic and combined with the spirit of the humanist era. He uses a simple theme to express the deep emotions of mother and child in human nature and conveys the sacred connotation of the Madonna and Child through a kind and beautiful figure. While being close to people's life experiences, Raphael's portrait of the Madonna and Child extends unconsciously into people's hearts.

However, the image of the "Mother of the Madonna" in the later period is different from that of Florence. From the image of the sweet and happy young Madonna to the Madonna with the Queen's posture, slowly descending from the heavens means saving the suffering and sacrificing her son. The child came to redeem people. Such a change is, of course, inseparable from the historical conditions of the entire era.

In the 16th century, Italy, the economy gradually lost its previous advantages. The reason is that the economy tends to decline, the external troubles continue, France, Spain, and the endless invasion, the nation, the life of independence, democracy and freedom were seriously threatened. As a result, people in Italy during this period can no longer be satisfied with the performance of the Virgin, "sweetness" or "beauty", but hope that there is a capable and robust Help the people to relieve the image of the protector of pain and misfortune.

Image of Virgin separated from image of ordinary women. And that is replaced by image of Virgin with power. The background behind it is also from the comfortable and beautiful rural pastoral and grass garden, slowly entering the palace and boarding the throne.

From past to present, we can see the transformation of Madonna historical paintings. In the 21st century, reflecting, and what is the image of the modern Madonna and the Child? On the other hand, now, will the transformation of the values ​​of the whole society contain the representation of women and mothers? In the future, the future image of the Madonna and the Child will change with the times, and how will it develop? What is the future of the Madonna and the Child?  Which is also a reflection of my mother's role, reflecting on the values ​​of women in this social system, how will it change? 

Catalonia Gallery in Barcelona & National Gallery in London

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© 2020 copyright Yi Chiao Chen. All rights reserved. 


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