Sunday, 25 May 2014

Return of the Review: Weirdos in the Wings Edition

Welcome to part two of the two-part series “Madonna and Baby Jesus” as found at the National Gallery of Art in DC.  This time, it’s all about the entourage of onlookers.  After all, when your hobby is standing around staring at a mother and baby all day, you’re probably a little eccentric.  Once again, all of these images are available in high res at the gallery website.
Madonna and Child with Saint Jerome and Saint Bernardo of Siena – Benvenuto di Giovanni, c. 1480/1485

My first thought on seeing this was that it had an adorable little girl with Mary.  However, my second observation on the full size version in person was Holy moly, look at St. Jerome’s luscious eyelashes!
Maybe he’s born with it….

I realize that I have trained myself to look for weird things, but seriously, they are way more defined than anyone else, including Mary.  Did St. Jerome have a secret in his closet?  Was his inclusion in the painting sponsored by Maybelline? 

My third thought was that Jesus seems to have fallen in with the pipe plants from Super Mario Brothers at a very young age.
Pomegranates: Downfall of Italians since 1480

Moving on to other quirky saints…
Madonna and Child with Saint Anthony Abbot and Saint Sigismund – Neroccio de’ Landi, c. 1490/1495

Besides the fact that St. Sigismund looks like he belongs in the most flamboyant of the Hogwarts houses, the main reason this is here is because I love St. Anthony’s adorable pig. 

There are various theories why St. Anthony was often depicted with pigs.  Some legends have it that he was a swineherd before he became a saint.  Maybe it’s a holy pig.  Or an angel pig!  It’s just keeping its wings hidden because if it were to fly, it would make a lot of uncreative swearers unhappy. 

Some angels and saints just have better things to do than gawking at babies.
Madonna and Child with Saints and Angels – Bernardo Daddi, 1330s

Big entourage here.  A lot of really ostentatious halos blocking the view for people in the back.  Down front, a couple of angels desperately try to entertain their infant god…
Quick! How do you play the Teletubbies theme again?

…but he is far more interested in a bird someone is offering him, as he has a demonstrated interest in mauling small fowl with his bare baby fist.
I’m crushing your head!

But at least some of the crowd are making their own entertainment.
He he. Hehehe.

This lady is way more interested in tooting her own horn than in paying attention to babies.  And from the snicker her friend is giving her, I assume she is just using it to make fart noises.

Finally, I leave you with this.
Madonna and Child with Angels – Sandro Botticelli (attributed), 1465/1470

Two observations:

  • Jesus has no neck.
  •  Those angels would rather be doing anything else.

Holy crap…not ANOTHER diaper…


  1. What is it with these medieval artists and their absolute refusal to paint a baby Jesus that isn't horrifying? It's like in art school all of them were like, "I don't know what a baby looks like, uh, I'll just draw some ghoulish nightmare creature."

    1. I think it says a lot of what they thought about their lord and savior. "So, God on Earth...I'm guessing he was somewhere between a gremlin and the Children of the Corn."

  2. Why is an eyeless dog nuzzling the back of the angel in the last picture? Anyway her sister angel is probably looking at something rather than making a bored disaffected face. A flying turkey, perhaps, pulling a banner with the words "Down with Christmas!" on it.

    1. Now I want to make a nativity scene with that turkey flying in front of the star, a la E.T...

  3. " the most flamboyant of the Hogwarts houses' HA! Awesome. Again, so glad you're back!

    1. Thanks! You've got to admit, he looks like he really enjoys playing with wands. And balls.

  4. Those eyelashes sure are "defined". I'd call them plain scary but what do I know about eyelashes anyway? Unless they're really defined, of course. Wait! That's NOT an adorable pig. It's like a mini version of a blood thirsty not-so-adorable Daddy Pig. No?

  5. That would make for a much more realistic but scarring children's show!