humanization of art: suffering mothers

The Gods in art. Andre Malraux’s fascinating The Metamorphosis of the Gods continues to fascinate. How sacred art of the ancients becomes reborn and transformed as Christianity evolves. Idolatry? …

The humanization of art. In the waning age of Faith, beauty moves from the saint to the statue-Mary, Queen of Heaven, becomes the suffering mother of Christ….

—Nicolas Rolin (1376-1462) was chancellor to Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy. He had Van Eyck portray him sitting opposite to the virgin Mary with child.
Both Rolin and Mary are dressed in splendid gowns. Rolin’s jacket is trimmed with fur. An angel holds a crown over Mary’s head.
Van Eyck situated them in the loggia of a palace built in Italian style. In the background two figures are seen leaning over a ballustrade, thus creating a relaxed atmosphere. Van der Weyden and later Ghirlandaio also used that technique.—Read More:

The Gothic revelation of the City of God, the art of the Coronation period, was the work of a Christian imagination still concerned with Truth. Now, that imagination becomes increasingly concerned with mere figments. For nine hundred years, the great image-makers were artists only in the sense that the prophets of israel were poets. But now, as happened in Greece, the self-abnegation of the artist ceases. As the gods did before, the saints become status. The Beau Dieu of Amiens was beautiful only in the sense that beauty was considered a divine attribute. And when the people of Liege called their Virgin the most beautiful in Christendom, they referred to the Virgin and not to the statue; without her crown, she would not have been the most beautiful young mother in Europe. But now, the word “beautiful” refers to the work of art itself. “It expresses an admiration quite distinct from religious sentiment…The aesthetic sense is born in Christendom.”

—Domaine sculpture ; médiéval
Dénomination statue
Auteur/exécutant anonyme
Titre Prophète
Période création/exécution 2e quart 13e siècle
Lieu de conservation Strasbourg ; musée de l’Oeuvre Notre-Dame—Read More:

The artist clearly leaves his mark on his work; status of prophets or apostles now typically display ostentatious curls, coil-shaped or pinpointed beards, fluted robes. realistic touches are mixed with the bizarre. The Prophet of Strasbourg “lifts a hand whose veins are minutely copied from life toward an archaically Chinese bronze beard.” The religious, no longer expressed naturally or easily, becomes stylized. “Without realism, no human figure; without stylization, no saint.” ( to be continued)…

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