Madonna and Child

This being Italy, so much of the artwork seen at museums and the many churches revolve around the Holy Mother and Child that they all look the same to me.

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(paintings from the Palazzo Pitti, altar from the Orsanmichele)

They are all some variation of the above: the Mother looking worshipful or mournful, sometimes the Christchild raises his hand in a blessing, sometimes the frame is too crowded with the saints etc. I am sorry to say that I am mostly quite unable to tell them apart.

However, I make a huge exception for Antonio da Correggio’s Adoration of the Child.

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I fell in love with this the moment I set eyes on it, hanging in a corner of the Uffizi, possibly a gallery or two away from the heavyweights of Caravaggio and Titian.

I love how natural the scene is – it looks like the photograph a proud father might take of his wife and son. It looks like diaper-changing time, and the Mother is singing, clapping, teasing her beloved baby Son. Many other paintings portray the baby Jesus as the Lord; indeed, here, the Mother is on her knees in worship, lifting her hands in supplication to the Lord, as we do when we pray the Lord’s Prayer. But this also portrays the Madonna and Child as any other loving mother and son; they are human here, enjoying a private moment together.

Perhaps it is near impossible to portray Jesus as both divine and human at the same time, the same way humans like us grapple with the idea that Jesus is both God and man.

Happy Advent there.

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