Thursday, 18 April 2013

St. Bernard Milks It For All It's Worth

This week, not one, but two people sent me images for this blog.  It made me happy that some people think of me when they see art.  Then I realized this means that people see drawings of semi-nude women and butt jokes and think “Oh yeah, that’ll be up her alley.”  But I digress. 

This week we look at depictions of St. Bernard’s vision of Mary.  I was unaware of this story, but having now looked into it apparently it was quite a popular vignette in paintings.  The story goes that St. Bernard was praying before a statue of the Virgin Mary, and he asked her to “show herself to be a mother.”  The statue then came to life, gave the breasticle a bit of a squeeze, and shot virgin-milk directly into his mouth.  Apparently this was supposed to represent either the gift of life, or the “wisdom of God.” 

So without further ado, here is the painting that got the ball rolling here.  I can’t find the artist, but “La Vision de San Bernardo de Claraval” appears at the Museo Palacio Arzobispal de Lima.

Looks like your typical man holding a Roman torture implement to kneel before a woman surrounded by winged and un-winged babies.  But upon closer inspection…

Really she’s got pretty good range.  Baby Jesus is standing there going, “Well, I guess I can share.  It’s better direct from the source, though.”

Sometimes Mary’s aim is less good (or precise).

Although that’s probably what I would do if someone asked me to prove myself a mother by breastfeeding them.  In your EYE, disbeliever!

Of course, there are simpler ways of getting at those who question you.  Here Bernard looks like he might be in the middle of a stroke and about to drown in a stream of fresh milk. 

Sometimes the scene doesn’t show the milk-bestowal proper, instead showing him trying to persuade Mary to just let him have a bit of her sweet, sweet baby food.

Here there’s the bonus of baby angels everywhere, including Mary standing on baby angel heads.

Then there’s this one, where he’s not so much ready for a drink, as he looks like he might burn a hole in her breast with his Intense Stare. 

I’m not so sure it’s “proof of motherhood” he’s looking for there….

I leave you with perhaps the most famous image, by Alonzo Cano.

Clearly Mary has been practicing for that carnival game with the squirtgun and the little targets.  I think she’ll win the giant teddy bear.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

It's Tough to Be the Queen - Part 9

Dear readers, this week we turn again to the ongoing Medici Cycle saga.  And this one is a doozy.  Last time, after like nine other paintings, Marie was finally coronated as the Queen of France.  There were angels and it rained gold coins and everything.  Marie was crowned on 13 May, 1610. 

Then, her husband, Henry, was tragically assassinated.  This happened…on 14 May, 1610.

TOTALLY A COINCIDENCE.  And Marie was of course quite reluctant to take full control of the regency.  Sorry, did I say reluctant?  I meant that she took it up the same day her husband was murdered.  Out of a sense of duty to the country, I am sure.

This painting is called the “Death of Henry IV and the Proclamation of the Regency.”  And it is the best representation of an assassination, ever.

Henry is spirited away to the skies, looking understandably concerned at being dragged bodily by two men clothed only in sheets while being harassed by an eagle armed with lightning bolts. 

Back on earth, there is an effort to keep him in the mortal realm.  Not by his wife, of course, but rather by a fire-breathing snake grabbing his ankle.

His wife is already seated on the throne beneath a triumphal arch, “reluctantly” receiving the orb of power from France, whose bosom is dangling all over the place, because it is France.

Meanwhile, Marie has suddenly become a very eligible bachelorette, judging by the throngs of drooling men suddenly clawing at her throne.

Somehow it seems the menfolk weren’t coming a-knocking in quite such numbers BEFORE she was Queen of France, but I am sure this is entirely related to her womanly charms.  Although I would recommend that they all should take a close look at her dead hubby’s obituary in relation to her coronation before getting too amorous.

As a final note, what is going on with this guy??

This appears to be a disembodied zombie head protruding from a shiny shield.  Which I like think is really the message we should take away from this.  “If your husband is coincidentally assassinated one day after you come into a position to get a lot of power from his death, beware the zombie hordes that will come for you from another dimension out of all reflective surfaces.”