The Madonna Painter

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The stone bench also recalls his burial slab. The garden has always occupied a place of great importance in religious and secular thought and imagery. Medieval illuminated manuscripts are full of depictions of earthly paradise as a bountiful and luscious garden.

Artworks by Jan van Eyck

These ideal terrestrial gardens also came to symbolize celestial or heavenly paradise. Flowering meadows see Nativities and Adorations could represent both the terrestrial and celestial realm. Nearly every flower or plant depicted in these garden scenes could have some symbolic connotation, although they may be included simply for their beauty and decorative effect. The Virgin Mary came to be associated with many flowering plants, but in particular with the lily, violet, and rose; the rose was also sacred to the ancient pagan goddess Venus.

The rosebush and its connection to Mary was an important element of the iconography of the medieval church. Domenico Veneziano placed his Madonna and Child in front of a flowering hedge, the red rose a symbol of martyrdom and love and the white rose associated with chastity fig. This refers to the legend that roses had no thorns before the fall of man in Eden.


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A renewed interest in the natural world in the 15th century led artists to explore and emulate nature in greater detail. The theme of the Madonna in an enclosed garden gave artists ample opportunity to display their skill at portraying flowers and fruit with increased realism, which they combined with a growing devotion to Marian themes.

Mary, the bride of the Church, was referred to as the hortus conclusus , or closed garden, which suggested her virginity. Very high garden walls surrounded the Madonna and Child in northern European art fig.


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See works in the collection depicting the theme of Madonna and Child in a Garden here. This tondo, or round painting, has its roots in the Renaissance Florentine tradition of presenting gifts to a new mother and child on a painted round tray. Such trays, called a desco da parto in Italian, were often decorated by well-known artists and were expensive gifts.

Later, painters began using this unusual form for larger paintings that were also usually destined for the home or private use. This intimate and lyrical scene has been the subject of much scholarly debate over who painted it: Bellini, the young Titian, or Giorgione. Regardless of its origin, it is a masterwork; its luminous Venetian landscape, iridescent draperies, and rustic shepherds had an immediate impact on contemporary artists. The round format of this panel has been used to great advantage by the two artists. The long procession of the magi, their colorful attendants, animals, and gawking townspeople wraps all around the architecture and landscape, adding to the celebratory and festive atmosphere of the painting.

Madonna (art)

Botticelli may have based his figure of a groom trying to control his horse in the right background on an antique sculpture of a horse tamer that had been unearthed in Rome. In medieval times horses were considered impure and proud; thus one who reins them in has control over the senses.

Nativities and Adorations. The Nativity of Christ is one of the central themes in Western religious art.

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The brief account provided by Luke does not mention the ox and the ass so familiar to the story, but their presence is implied by the manger and they are mentioned in the Old Testament prophecies of Isaiah and later apocryphal gospels early writings that were later excluded from the Bible. The earliest known Nativity scenes are found on 2nd- to 3rd-century Christian sarcophagi stone burial caskets and later mosaics, where much of the imagery is derived from pagan mythologies.

Byzantine tradition located the birth in a grotto or cave fig. The cave may represent the passage from dark to light brought about by salvation or recall the womb from which life itself emerges. Duccio also shows several scenes happening at the same time: adoring angels, attentive animals, the annunciation to the shepherds, and midwives bathing the child fill the crowded panel. The writings of the 14th-century mystic Saint Bridget of Sweden profoundly changed the iconography of the subject.

The Nativity scene was transformed into one of adoration figs. Mary crosses her arms over her chest in a traditional greeting and gesture of respect. Joseph, almost an afterthought in many nativity scenes, now shares a place of importance with Mary, and adds to the domestic appeal of the panel. William Wymark Jacobs. A Voyage to Italy. James Henry Taylor.

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Artworks by Raphael

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Madonna of the Goldfinch by Raphael

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