Tuesday, July 5, 2016

15C Garden - Hortus Conclusus - Mary as The Madonna of Humility

 Giovanni di Paolo (Italian (Sienese), about 1399–1482) 1442 Madonna of Humility. Museum of Fine Arts in Boston

Here Giovanni di Paolo depicts the Christian Virgin Mary seated on the ground to indicate her humility, cradling her Child against a backdrop of strawberries & wildflowers within a sheltering, protective screen of fruit trees. In the distance stretches a real world landscape of cultivated fields, stony roads, & fortified towns. 

Of this painting of a Hortus Conclusus, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston tells us that the artist is emphasizing religious sentiment & decorative patterning rather than reality, the illusion of depth & three-dimensional form. "Still in its original frame & in a near-perfect state of preservation, this panel exemplifies the lyrical quality of Sienese painting."

Themes traditionally associated with the Madonna are combined here: the Madonna of Humility appears in a Hortus Conclusus, or enclosed garden. Madonna of Humility refers to artistic portrayals of the Virgin Mary which depict her as a Madonna sitting on the ground, or sitting upon a low cushion. The earliest surviving works of this particular portrayal of the Virgin are found in frescoes & panel paintings in Italy & Avignon from the 1340s.