Monday, May 22, 2017

May 1800s - Robert Walker Macbeth (1848-1910) - Maypole scene

1800s Robert Walker Macbeth (1848-1910) - Maypole scene depicting an earlier era

Morning Madonna

Unknown Master, Flemish (late 15C in Brussels) Virgin and Child crowned by 2 Angels

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

May 20C - Still Dancing around the Maypole



The best known Maypole dance is called The Flower

The dance takes place in two opposing directions , the women rotate counter-clockwise, while men in the clockwise direction. Each time a man and a woman meet by dancing, exchange roles; the woman goes outside and inside the man and so on. In this way, we simulate the courtship ritual among the dancers. It's important to maintain a steady pace so that the distance between the dancers remains uniform.

 An elementary Maypole dance is called A Simple Figure

Another Maypole dance one exists in a more simple in which the group of women form a smaller circle, in the vicinity of the pole, while the group of men form an outer circle (the distance between the two groups is about 3 steps). As the diagram men turn clockwise and women perform a tighter turning counter-clockwise so that their tapes are wrapped first in a spiral, above which is going to tighten the spiral of men.

 A more complicated dance is called The Spider

ONE WAY - The two groups of dancers remain at a certain distance (about two steps) with the innermost circle of women, while dancing They stay with their backs to the pole and taking the tape taut with both hands folded in chest, but men are the ones that perform the dance starting vaulted frontal with respect to the pole and coupled with his lady. The man takes a first rotary motion, turning away from his left side around the woman, and then continuing clockwise to the next woman to perform the same movement.

TWO-WAY Men and women alternate in the rotational movement of the FIRST WAY: When men (and women who remain stationary) and once women (with men who are at a standstill). The arrangement of the pairs to see all the dancers start with the right side facing towards the pole in order to make a clockwise rotation and arranged for couples with women slightly away a little 'more in and ahead of the companion.

There are many variations of these Maypole dances depending on the location in which these dances are practiced. The number of participants varies depending on the size which should not fall below 8 ribbons or tapes.

Morning Madonna

Unknown Master, Italian (active 1520s in Florence). Virgin and Child with Four Saints

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

May 1890 - Golden Yellow Raspberries & Children dancing around a Maypole on Seed Catalog

1890 Golden Yellow Raspberries and Children Playing Maypole on Seed Catalog


Morning Madonna

Unknown Master, Italian (late 15th century in Valsesia). Madonna del Parto

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Maypole in Central Park between 1901-1903 by Maurice Pendergrast (1858-1924)

 1901-03 Maurice Brazil Prendergast (American artist, 1858-1924) May Day in Central Park

Morning Madonna

Francesco d'Ubertino Verdi, called Bachiacca [also known as Francesco Ubertini, il Bacchiacca] (1494 – 1557) Mary and Child

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Evolution of Garlands for May Day

1508 Hans Süss von Kulmbach (German, 1480–1522) Girl with Cat Making a May Garland

Making a May Garland. Petites Heures de la Reine Anne de Bretagne


1587 Lucas Van Valkenborch (Flemish painter, c 1530-1597) Landscape in Spring Detail Making Spring Garlands

Myles Birket Foster (1825-1899) May 1st or Garland Day


James Hayllar (1829–1920) May Day Garlands


 Myles Birket Foster (1825-1899) May Day Garlands


 1860 Thomas Falcon Marshall (1818-1878) May Day Garlands


1884 Herbert Gustave Schmalz (1856-1935) renamed himself John Wilson Carmichael in 1918 May Garland


19C A combintion of Morris & Maypole dancing and Hobby Horses,  English Morris Dancing may be the modern survival of a primitive pre-Christian ceremonial of ritual dance & drama ensuring & celebrating the renewal of Spring. This rite once flourished all over Europe & even today dances similar to the Morris can be seen in parts of France, Spain, Rumania & Portugal. The earliest documentary references to Morris dancers are mainly from Church accounts in the early 1500's - "Silver paper for the Mores-dawncers - 7d". "for VI peyre of shones for ye Mors dauncers - 4d" (1509/1510). It was certainly thriving in Shakespeare's time; Will Kemp's 'Nine Daies Wonder' was a Morris marathon from London to Norwich in 1600.  One popular theory points to evidence of similar dances in England, derived from the Druids' Maris dances, in celebration of the god Maris.  By Elizabethan times, the Morris was already known as an "ancient custom," & had become established in many areas, mainly the Cotswolds, the Welsh Borders & the North West of England. It was also a favorite entertainment at Court. A Morris dance team often featured a "Fool" or an "Animal" (a dancer in disguise, often as a dragon or hobby horse).


Edgar Barclay (1842-1913) May Day

Morning Madonna


Hans, the Younger Holbein (1497-1543). The Solothurn Madonna (detail) 1522

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

May 1800s - Historical depiction of an English Maypole

Frederick Goodall (British artist, 1822-1904) Here Goodall depicts the Raising the Maypole from an earlier era.

Morning Madonna

Unknown Flemish Master Virgin and Child 1490s

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

May Day by Josef Frans Nollekens (Flemish-born British artist, 1702-1748)

Josef Frans Nollekens (Flemish-born British artist, 1702-1748) May Day with a Maypole on the hill. 

Morning Madonna

Alonso Berruguete (Spanish artist, 1488-1561) Madonna and Child

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Monday, May 15, 2017

20C New York City Celebrates May Day

Maurice Brazil Prendergast (American artist, 1861-1924) 1900-03 May Day, Central Park, New York City

Morning Madonna

Unknown Flemish Master The Nativity 1475-1500

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

16C Flemish Villagers Dance around the Maypole

Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Flemish artist, 1525-1569) St. George's Kermis with the Dance around the Maypole

Morning Madonna


Virgin and Child 1495-1505, a painting by Flemish Unknown Masters

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were the core of early Western art.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

17C Elegant Flemish Maypole with Musicians

Peeter Gijsels (Flemish artist, 1621-1690) Detail of Playing Musical Instruments around a Maypole

Morning Madonna

Paolo Veneziano (b. Before 1300, DC 1360). Mother and Child 1339

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Friday, May 12, 2017

May 1741 - Maypole Dance

1741 The Milkmaid’s Garland, or Humours of May Day, Francis Hayman.

Morning Madonna

Andrea del Brescianino or Dei Piccinelli (c 1487-1525) Detail Madonna and Child with the Infant St John the Baptist c. 1524

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

May 1700s - Cross-dressing May Day Parade + The Garland Gone Wild

Jack-In-The-Green

An 18C hand-colored print of chimney-sweeps’ May Day “Jack in the Green” celebrations in London. The portly “May Queen” on the right of the picture is probably a man. Bawdy & Bacchanalian these exuberant drunken celebrations of the coming in of Summer were gradually suppressed during the formality of the late Victorian period.

Traditional celebrations of the arrival of Summer on May Day had a rich cast of characters, not least the mysterious figure of the sinister Jack-in-the-Green, who wore a large, foliage-covered, garland-like framework, usually pyramidal or conical in shape, covering the body from head to foot.  The costume was a development of the 16C & 17C custom of decorating homes (and people) with garlands of flowers & leaves for the May Day celebration.



After becoming a source of competition between Britain's Works Guilds, the garlands became increasingly elaborate, finally covering the entire man. This figure resulting from extreme garlanding became known as Jack-in-the-Green.  For some reason the figure became particularly associated with chimney sweeps.




1836, 3 May: HATTON-GARDEN. - MY LORD AND MY LADY, OR JACK IN THE GREEN LUMBERED. - Yesterday George Sharpe, Edward Ellis, William Davies, and George Vincent, sweeps, were brought before Mr. Bennett and Mr. Halls, charged by Richard Bird, the street-keeper of Bedford-row, Holborn, with having created a disturbance, and assaulting him. 
    The prisoners were dressed up in an eccentric style. Sharpe and Ellis were clowns; Davis [sic] was papered and spangled as "My Lord," and Vincent, as "Jack in the Green." 
    Bird stated that yesterday morning, about twelve o'clock, prisoners entered Bedford-row with a fife and drum, followed by an immense crowd of persons, when they commenced dancing and disturbing the whole of the neighbourhood. He ordered them to remove, when they refused ; and, on making an effort to move them, Davies struck him, and he was immediately surrounded and beaten by them, and he would have been murdered had it not been for the arrival of the police. 
    A witness corroborated this evidence. 
    Mr. Barnett [sic] asked Davies what he had to say? 
    Davies (in a gruff voice) - Vy, my Lord, I'm a serveep ; my father was a serveep afore me ; and ve alvays vos 'lowed to go about in May. The beadle pushed us along, ven I sartainly did strike him, but he hit my child on its head.
    Eliza Sharpe, who held a child in her arms, said that Bird struck the child on its head with his staff, and pointed out a bruise on its forehead, but she could not say that he did it wilfully. 
    Mr. Barnett [sic] asked Bird why he used his staff? 
    Bird - I was obliged, in self-defence. They were all upon me, your Worship. 
    Mr. Bennett - You have acted rather intemperately ; you ought not to have used your staff. 
    Mr. Bennett - You have acted rather intemperately. You ought not to have used your staff. [sic] 
    Davies - We axed him if we might have a dance, and vile ve wer in the reel round "Jack in the Green" he cum'd and turned us avay for nuffen votsamdever ; there are some o' these chaps vot goes about, vot are not serveeps (pulling up his trowsers), but if yer Lordship vants to be satisfied on that ere subject only look at my knees, (showing large corns on his knee-pans) I assures yer Vorship ve are reglar flue-flakers, and I've been up the smallest flues in the country. I was born a serveep, I've lived a serveep, and I'll die a serveep. (Laughter.) 
    Mr. Bennett - I certainly must say that it is very irregular for such persons to go about the streets creating a mob and disturbance, but it is an ancient custom, and they ought not to be interfered with. (To Bird) - I do not mean to censure you ; but if you had not interfered you would have acted more wisely. If you call upon me to punish them for their conduct I must do so; but, under the circumstances, you having used your staff, I think you would act more wisely not to press the matter. 
    Bird said he would not, and the whole of the prisoners were discharged, and, on leaving the Court, Jack popped into the Green ; and, after regaling themselves at an adjacent public-house, they proceeded opposite the office and struck up a tune, and continued dancing in a most ludicrous manner until they got out of the neighbourhood.  The Morning Post, 4 May 1836, page 4.



1856, 3 May: On the 3rd inst. a young woman, named Mary Sullivan, residing in Paviour's-alley, Lambeth, was attracted by the display of a Jack-in-the-Green, accompanied by my lord and lady and clown. The latter individual indulged very freely in the clown's proverbial mischievous pranks, and suddenly catching hold of the young woman he embraced her. This unexpected act produced a shock on the nervous system. One fit succeeded another. She was removed to the hospital, but never rallied. The Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle, 24 May 1856, page 6.


By the turn of the 20C the custom had started to wane, as a result of the Victorian disapproval of bawdy behavior. The cross-dressing Lord & Lady of the May, with their practical jokes & embarassing excesses, were replaced by the chaste tableau of the May Queen, while the noisy, usually drunken Jack-in-the-Green vanished from most local parades.

Morning Madonna

Francesco d'Ubertino Verdi, called Bachiacca [also known as Francesco Ubertini, il Bacchiacca] (1494 – 1557) Mary and Child with John the Baptist 1525

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

May 1760s - London May Day Parade

1761–1770 John Collet (British artist, c.1725–1780) A Satire of a May Day Scene in London

Morning Madonna

Antoniazzo Romano (c 1452-c 1512) Mother and Child

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

1500 Gathering Branches for Fertility in May

1500 - Book of Hours by Jean Poyer, known as The Hours of Henry VIII - May - Picking Branches

In May, during the 16C, ladies & gentlemen often participated in traditional May festivities, such as couples heading for the woods to collect flowers & green branches to decorate their homes. It was a celebration of a return to life & fertility.

Morning Madonna

Jozef Oleszkiewicz (Polish artist, 1777–1830) Madonna and Child

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Monday, May 8, 2017

18C Raising the Maypole

Mayday Dominique Joseph Vanderburch (1722-1785) Raising the Maypole while musicians are practicing & one couple is already dancing.

Morning Madonna


Giovanni Battista Cima da Conegliano (c 1459–c 1517) Mother and Child 1496

 In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the continuum of our shared past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were the core of early Western art. 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

16C May Boating Parties - Making Music & Gathering Newly Green Branches

May, from Book of Hours (Latin), Use of Rome (the 'Golf Book'). Netherlandish (Bruges), c. 1540. BL Golf Book1 f22 MS Add 24098, fol. 22v. May Boating Party on a River Barge on the Bruges canal. This depiction, representing the month of May, shows men & women collecting newly green branches to carry home in both the boat & on horseback. Those in the boat welcome Spring with music as well.  May, from Book of Hours (Latin), The Golf Book is famous for its lively depictions of sports & pastimes. It takes its name from one of its illustrations which shows an early game of golf. The Golf Book is a book of hours, a collection of devotional texts for private prayer.  Books of hours were very popular between the 13th & 16th centuries. Each one was unique because it was written & illustrated according to the needs & desires of the person who commissioned it.  This Golf Book was produced by Flemish artist Simon Bening, the leading master of illumination in the 16C. Bening had a workshop in Bruges, & it is likely that the Golf Book was produced there in the early 1540s. His daughter Levina was also a miniature painter who went on to work as an artist in England. Netherlandish (Bruges), c. 1540. BL Golf Book1 f22 MS Add 24098, fol. 22v. 

1515 Da Costa Hours, in Latin Illuminated by Simon Bening (1484–1561) Belgium, Bruges, May Boating Party. Collecting green branches & playing music.


1660 Published by Matthew Collings; After Crispijn de Passe the Elder; After Maarten de Vos. May; boat with two couples collecting green branches, drinking, and making music.


Book of Hours: A Boating Party (ca 1500), Flemish. Cambridge: Fitzwilliam Museum, Ms 1058-1975 f5v.  Calendar Page for May. A couple stand on a bridge watching a punt carrying a party of musicians and a pair of lovers beneath. In the boat, a man plays the lute, a woman sings from a sheet of music, and a man plays an alto-sized recorder with a flared bell. The branches of new leaves decorating the boat celebrate the regeneration of spring. 

Morning Madonna


Zanobi Strozzi (Italian Early Renaissance Painter, 1412-1468) Madonna of Humility 1448

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.