The Middle Ages had a strong influence on the performance of basic values, beliefs and practices of all kind of people, at this time the Catholic church reached its peaks as the dominant political, religious and cultural authority; also was a important source of moral and spiritual instruction, it was the patron and wellspring of artistic creativity. Faith was represented in several Artworks, such paints, cathedrals, statues and manuscripts.
The medieval artist, architect and composer served the Christian population by recreating God’s plan, which they direct the point to salvation of the soul, their artworks were created to link the temporal and divine realms. “The Virgin and Child” is part of Christianity iconography, there are several themes in the iconography of the Virgin Mary: Mary in Majesty, the representation where Mary is above everything, mother of God, Mary mother in a much more natural situation mother and son appear.
The early Christian iconography is very rich, the tempera technique (was the exclusive painting medium of artists during the Middle Ages), representative simplicity, no chromatic limitation (light colors barely used in the paints) and impressionistic character of its figures, forming a painting that goes beyond the faith representation and makes people being fascinated by its splendor.
While I was in the museum I could appreciate different forms of art, but the paint “Virgin and Child” catch my attention, because its glory and magnificence appearance, when I was looking at this European art work I could see the virgin Mary dressed with a orange dress and a blue cloak, blond hair, and solid stared; on her right side, holding Jesus Christ baby, blond hair as well, covered with a red cloth and he is holding a bird (symbol of resurrection) in the left hand, on baby Jesus neck a red coral pendant that represent protection against evil; around virgin Mary a gold halo over the head, and baby Jesus a red halo that represent glory and majesty.
The half-length portrait is painted in a red/gold floral motif wall, a gold frame border with leafs on the top, and on the bottom these words AVE MARIA GRATIA PLENA DOMI (phrase of a latin prayer). I could realize that the material was wood, very hard well designed.
Medieval painting in wooden panel, coated With gesso, painted in tempra, decorated with gold leaf, the artist cultivate a taste for decorative abstraction throught line, eliminating space, thus increasing the nature of the image. The painting is two-dimensional, flat, balanced, it is based on the draw and the line. As the rest of the artworks, seeks to enhance the superiority of the virgin and the child, so it is expressionist art, I think, giving a little importance to light, modeling, backgrounds and colors, as used flat colors, contrasting colors, with warm and cold colors. Warm colors attract the attention of the viewer, and that vibrate in their own environment, while could colors represent serenity.
This beautiful piece has a schematic grace, in which line induce the sharp, metalic stars in Virgin Mary dark blue mantle, their gestures palm up with two figures raised on Christ child right hand symbol of the bond between parents and children, in this case, the Virgin and Christ child; and the inferior surface with a phrase prayer. In my researching to find information about the artist of this artwork, I could find some interesting facts as the author is an anonymous painter, so when I look at the name of the artist I realize that “Master of the Straus Madonna” is the pseudonym given to an unknown Italian artist who worked in Florence toward the beginning of the 15th century.
Art historians use the designation “Master of” to name the works of anonymous artists for convenience in discussing them. “Straus” refers to Mr. and Mrs. Straus, who donated this painting to the MFAH in 1944. Edith A. and Percy S. Straus were art historians, critics, and collectors, they were owners of more than eigthy valuable pieces of art and this collection is dating from the thirtheenth to the nineteenth centuries and includes many country origins, many of these pieces were acquired in Europe. The Straus partner were from New York, but they decide to place their collection in Houston because they were think that it will be more available to the southwestern people.
In summary I want to said that it was a wonderful experience to have the opportunity to visit this Museum of Fine Arts at Houston, because is not the same when we look the paints in computer instead if we go to the Museums we can appreciate and learn much more about the artwork. I learn that medieval painting styles were generally symbolic and expressionists, they express and transmit the faith to the people when look at it, the use of bright colors, and decorative treatment of form. I don’t could image what the author of this artwork was thinking in the moment of doing the draws for this paint, may be he or she was a worshipper and he/she just want to share with us a way to deify God.
Berenson, Bernard. “Archives Directory for the History of Collecting.” Archives Directory for the History of Collecting. The Frick Collection, 18 Nov. 2014. Web. 13 Dec. 2014.
Fichner-Rathus, Lois. Understanding Art. 10th ed. Boston: Clark Baxter, 2007. 628. Print.
“Virgin and Child.” MFAH | Collections | Arts of Europe | Virgin and Child. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Web. 13 Dec. 2014.