Sunday, 18 May 2014

Return of the Review: Now With More Creepy Babies

Dear readers, as you may or may not have noticed, I disappeared for a little while.  

Ok, so maybe it was almost a year. 

But my excuse is that in that time I finished writing a book, got married, traveled for a month, moved to another continent, and started a new job.  Please forgive my tardiness, and rest assured that I am BACK, with a renewed vigor for mocking inconsequential details in artwork made by people far more talented and popular (and usually dead) than me.  

Having read some feedback suggesting that dark backgrounds make some potential readers uncomfortable, I have also changed the look of the site a bit.  I thought that perhaps a nice light blue theme would soothe visitors before showing them depictions of mythical swan seduction and naked people being devoured by demon birds.  

My last entry focused on paintings from the National Gallery of Art in DC.  As it happens, I have now visited the gallery in person, and it turns out they have way more than just awkward American portraits.  They have awkward paintings of everything.  Thus, I am relaunching this blog with a two-part series of paintings of Madonna and Baby Jesus found at the NGA: the first will focus on images in which the holy duo is in some way a little….odd, and the second will look at some of the weird groupies that seemed to hang around with Madonna and Baby Jesus when they were posing for a painting (which was apparently all they did between baby ages 0-10).  You can find all of these images in their online repository.

We’ll start with Mafia Madonna.

Madonna and Child with Saint Jerome and Saint John the Baptist - Cima da Conegliano, c. 1459-1517 or 1518

I quite like the technical execution of this work.  But my first thought on seeing Momma’s face was, “If I mess with her baby, I will wake up to find a horse head in my bed.”  Even Baby Jesus looks like he’s about to deal with St. Jerome’s stuttering excuses with a cool, calculated measurement for new concrete shoes.
It’s not personal, it’s strictly business.

Next up: Seizure Baby Jesus.
The Virgin Adoring the Child - Sandro Botticell, c. 1480-1490

Allegedly Mary is adoring her baby here, but frankly I think she’s posed to defend herself from a child who is showing signs of contorting and clawing for brains in early-onset zombie-itis.
He does come back from the dead eventually…

This leads us straight into Possibly-A-Cadaver Baby Jesus.

Madonna and Child Enthroned With Saint Peter and Saint Paul – Domenico di Bartolo, c. 1430

Seriously.  That baby is not a healthy color. If it weren’t for his smooth features, I would have taken him for a shriveled centenarian.
Or maybe it’s greyscale?

Also, I think that Saint Peter should get that lazy eye seen to. 

Poor Saint Paul’s male pattern baldness has left him susceptible to forehead tarantulas, as well.

Sometimes, instead of being tiny and shriveled, Baby Jesus is a ginormous monster.

The Adoration of the Child – Filippino Lippi, c. 1475-1480

I do not understand how Mary survived the labor.  Although given her hands, and the fact that she seems to be kneeling, maybe he gets his big-boned-ness from his mother.  And the angel has a shrunken skull.

And now, for Animal Sacrifice Jesus.

Madonna Enthroned with Saints – Puccio di Simone and Allegretto Nuzi, c. 1354

At least the baby is not obviously deformed in this painting.  However, upon closer inspection he appears to be choking a bird while wearing a tribal necklace.  
Who’s a cute little animal mauler?  YOU are!  Yes you are!

These symbols appears in a number of works: the bird is a finch, to represent his future sacrifice, and the necklace is coral, to protect against evil.  I guess he must have lost that necklace when, you know, he was later betrayed and murdered.  Maybe it was because of his animal strangling hobby.

Sometimes, Baby Jesus is depicted as like someone I would not want to leave my own children alone with.
Madonna and Child – Domenico Veneziano, c. 1445/1450

He looks like he’s either going to have his way with all the women, or make you a terrible deal on a used car, all before he’s been potty trained.

Now, I leave you with this statue.
Madonna and Child with Two Angels - Verona, 14th Century

Mary and Clearly-Not-A-Baby Jesus will DEVOUR YOUR SOUL.

Sleep well!


  1. Congrats on all the good news which kept you away and look forward to lots more!

  2. What a nice surprise to see you back in my Feedly. I missed your snark.

    1. Thanks! It is good to be back. There's a lot of art that is just waiting for a snark attack. :)

  3. Hey! Welcome back! Any one of those life events was a good excuse, all of those in conjunction is a great excuse.
    I have never been more scared of Momma Mary and Baby J. Why are they so angry in the first one? And why the pupils in the last one!?! Terrifying. Glad you're back.

    1. Thanks! It's been a wild time, all right.

      I'm not entirely sure why they're so upset, although I imagine I personally would be annoyed by the guy on the right carrying around a symbol of brutal torture and death by my kid.

      And they says eyes are the window to the soul...maybe someone threw theirs open and let the souls escape?

  4. Have you emigrated to America like your highland ancestors after the Battle of Culloden? A shrewd move, I'm sure! Jesus and Mary might indeed be demons in that last sculpture - but we ought to be open to the possibility that Judas is flashing at them.

    1. Shrewd it may be, although sometimes I feel my local shrews could use a little taming.

      Judas may well be flashing them - although based on many paintings, I get the impression there were a lot of young naked boys running around when Jesus was young, so he would have had to have some SERIOUS surprises under his robes...which makes it all the more intriguing, I suppose.

  5. Ah you're back! Excellent. So you finished writing a book, got married, traveled for a month, moved to another continent, and started a new job. I'd say that constitutes an good reason for having been away for nearly a year. I was gone for a long time too. My excuse was I was on the virge of turning blind. I'm doing much beter now. Thank you.

    Now allow me to read your post. Yep, that baby's color needs a bit of work. You're so right. And much to my disgust, I'm susceptible to forehead tarantulas as well. No lazy eye, though.

    Now I can't sleep.... That's a seriously scary statue. Very.... dark. As for the dark backgrounds... it doesn't take much to make people feel uncomfortable in 2014, does it?

    1. Egad! I am sorry to hear of your struggles, but I am glad you are doing better at present. Blindness is one of my big fears...may you remain hale and hearty!

      I understand that with increased global trade, forehead tarantulas are becoming an increasing threat worldwide. And terrifying statues are an excellent cure for falling asleep to easily.

  6. You had to remind me of the nightmare inducing swan? Serious?!?!?!? I'd finally gotten over that!

    This is one creepy collection of Jesuses! While car dealer Jesus was pretty bad, that statue would be enough to make even a believer want to convert to something else. Is that what they mean by an afterlife?

    I'm so glad you're back! You were definitely missed.

    1. Thank you! Sorry to bring back traumatic memories. But hey, at least there are new traumatic images to supplant the old?

      That is one way to interpret the afterlife! I had always envisioned it as the Christian version of an afterparty, but with harps and hymns instead of booze.