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    Paintings of the Madonna and Child Essay

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    The Madonna and Child is a painting topic commonly known throughout the Christian, Catholic and Orthodox religions. It is usually a representation of the Virgin Mary (Madonna) and baby Jesus (Child). In most pictures baby Jesus and Mary are the only focal point but in some paintings they are surrounded by angels, worshiper, and/ or priest each representing numerous things depending on the mind frame of the artist and the era in which the picture is made.

    Over many centuries, The Madonna and Child has been a common topic of art, but during the time period of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Madonna and Child reached its highest point among artists. Although the theme of the picture was replicated numerous of time no two pictures were alike and each picture told its own individual story. Madonna and Child had its start during the Byzantine era, a time period in which paintings were not made to look life like, but rather held the idea that Christ was not only human but a God as well.

    Towards the beginning of the Renaissance era Madonna and Child started to evolve into a more realistic and relatable state; as artists begin to paint a more precise representation of their subjects. Even though artists has begun to focus more on the life-like aspects of the pictures as they moved through eras Madonna and Child still and always have relied on symbolism and iconology. During the Byzantine era Madonna and Child was presented as a reminder that Jesus and Mary were different from everyone else, they were more of a symbolism rather than a portrayal of real people.

    Nothing in these pictures were actually painted to scale, as in the ratio between in the size of Marys head and the proportion of her body. She (Mary) had a very plain face with a lack of resemblance to a real woman, she didnt bare the body of a woman; just the dark blue robes (representing purity as well as royalty) around her; causing viewers to not focus on the beauty of the matter but the picture as a whole and what it represents.

    Jesus too was painted in an unrealistic view; baring the body the size of a child but the face, mind, and maturity of a man, a constant reminder that Jesus was both a man and a God from birth and that he himself knew he that he was divine . It wasnt that the artists at this time were incapable of accurately painting the human form, but rather choose not to; drawing viewer focus away from the picture itself but allowing them to see the symbolism within the picture and what the picture actually stands for as a whole.

    Madonna and Cchild 13th century. Both the Renaissance and Byzantine artists had the same goals in mind when it came to the painting of the Madonna and Child, the differences between the two era was their method of achieving those goals. Unlike the Byzantine artist, Renaissance artist believed in realistic beauty. Rafaels painting The Presentation of Christ at the Temple projects a dramatic difference in focus than ones from the Byzantines era.

    Rather than focusing on Jesus divinity Rafael chose to focus on the human-like qualities of Jesus. In this picture Jesus is depicted as a normal Jewish baby boy going to dedicated at the temple. He (Jesus) is not seen as a full all-knowing man the size of a child, instead he is depicted as a normal baby tightly holding on to the fingers of his mother displaying that although Jesus was a God he was also human and someone we all could relate to.

    Mary was also relatable in this painting other than her blue robe representing purity and royalty, Mary is displayed as any caring mother would going through this process of having her first baby boy dedicated at the temple. Rafael choose to take a much simpler and relatable approach than some of the other paintings of the Madonna and Child. Rafaels painting The Presentation of Christ at the Temple (High Renaissance) Although these are only two of the numerous pictures made of the Madonna and Child they both displayed how different the mind frames of the artist was through the evolution of time.


    The Meaning of Sacred Symbols in Byzantine, Gothic and Renaissance Painting. The History of Art and The Curious Lives of Famous Painters. Web. 13 Sept. 2014. .

    Oddi Altarpiece. Musei Vaticani Sito Ufficiale. Web. 12 Sept. 2014. .

    The Portrayal of the Madonna and Child Throughout History Fabrizio Mancinelli. Online Magazine: The World & I Online Magazine. Web. 13 Sept. 2014. .

    Uffizi Gallery. The Museums of Florence. Web. 13 Sept. 2014. .

    Wilson, Jason. “History and Iconology.” Madonna and Child A Digital Art Gallery. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Sept. 2014.

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