Friday, 20 July 2012

Madonna and the Saintly Groupies

With the cryptic title "Madonna and Child with Saints," you might not be able to guess what exactly this Lorenzo Lotto piece is depicting.

 I will give you a clue.  In the middle is the Madonna, and she has a child.  Around them are a number of saints.  Based on his Wikimedia entry, Lotto painted about 15 different variations on this theme, with more or less saints present.  Would that I could make a living regurgitating the same basic imagery!  Guess I'll just have to keep being original and write comments about them all instead.

Anyway, the first things we shall examine here are the descending angels

This first group appears to be pouring over a map.  I guess they are running late to the Madonna party, since all the saints are already there.  Angels just refuse to ask for directions, you know?  It's easy to get lost among all the clouds (or rivers of fire, depending on your cosmology) on the way down to Humanville.

Here are more angels trying to read while plummeting from the sky.  I like to think this one was assigned to give an insightful sermon to mark the occasion, but forgot to write it beforehand, so now he is desperately trying to find relevant quotes.  Do you know how hard it is to read while free-falling?  Well, the angel in green is finding out, with possibly the least comfortable book-holding position ever.

Moving down to the saints below, here is St. Sebastian, covered in holes.  Supposedly he was shot full of arrows, but here he appears to be holding a bunch of wooden stakes, including one he is currently yanking from his chest cavity.  It is possible people heard him talking about drinking Jesus' blood at communion, and mistook him for a vampire.

Finally, at the very bottom we have John the Baptist.  Already shunning worldly comforts such as clothes but not yet stooping to eating locusts and honey, here he appears to be attempting to strangle a lamb, and possibly gnawing at its face.  His neck appears to be dislocated, possibly from excessive lamb-wrestling.  

As a parting thought, I bet a fight between the angels and the saints would be totally awesome.  I mean, the angels can fly around and stuff, but mostly they are armed with musical instruments and books.  The saints, on the other hand, all have staffs or stakes or torture implements.

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