Monday, December 25, 2017

Swaddling Clothes

Madonna and Child detail - Giotto (1266-1337, Florentine) Detail

"The angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:11-12). 
 1340s The birth of Jesus By Barna Da Siena (died c. 1351)

The phrase “swaddling clothes” is a translation of the root Greek word Sparganoo. The word appears in 2 verses in the New Testament in Luke 2. The 1st appearance of Sparganoo occurs in verse 7 & the 2nd is in verse 12. The Greek word Sparganoo means “to wrap a child in swaddling clothes (long strips of cloth)” or “to clothe in strips of cloth, to wrap up in strips of cloth, to wrap in cloths.”  Swaddling is an old practice of wrapping infants in blankets or cloth to restrict the movement of arms & legs. Record of swaddling is in the New Testament description of  the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:6–2:7: "And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger." 

Manuscript The Nativity gallica.bnf.fr


1340 Ambrogio Lorenzetti (Sienese painter, fl c 1317-1348) Virgin and Child


1150 Manuscript Meister der Palastkapelle, Palermo. The Nativity

 1455 Andrea Mantegna (Italian artist, 1431-1506) Virgin with Baby
1455 Andrea Mantegna (Italian artist, 1431-1506) Virgin with Baby


1308 Manuscript Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255-1319)  The Nativity

Several 15C paintings depict the Baby Jesus being presented at the temple (40 days after his birth) wrapped in swaddling clothes. 
1453 Andrea Mantegna (Italian artist, 1431-1506)  Presentation in the Temple
1453 Andrea Mantegna (Italian artist, 1431-1506) Presentation in the Temple Detail


1500 Presentation in the Temple High Priest Simeon holding Christ in swaddling clothes flanked by Joseph holding 2 turtle-doves & the Virgin

1460-64 Giovanni Bellini (Italian painter 1430-1516) Presentation at the Temple Detail 

1520  Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471–1528) The Virgin with the Swaddled Child

1575-80 Luca Cambiaso (1527-1585) Madonna col Bambino


Georges de La Tour (French Baroque Painter, 1593-1652) Adoration of the Magi detail


1630 Adoration of the Shepherds; three shepherds look at Christ child in swaddling clothes after Rubens.

Other babies portrayed in swaddling clothes -
Manuscript Working Parents with Swaddled Baby. Jean Colombe, Heures de Louis de Laval, BnF, Latin 920. Wrapped babies sometimes were on placed table tops or hung from a nail in a wall to give their mothers a rest or allow them time to do other work. 


Manuscript Carrying 2 sets of swaddled twins in the margins of the Romance of Alexander, Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Bodley 264.


 Manuscript Swaddled Baby Book Astrology, France, XIV century


1480s Domenico Ghirlandaio (Italian artist, 1449–1494) Zacharias Writes Down the Name of his Son wrapped in Swaddling Clothes Ghirlandaio Tornabuoni Chapel Detail

Manuscript New Mother breastfeeds swaddled baby, walks on stilts and balances pot. British Library Royal 10 E iv.

Manuscript Swaddled twins - Esau and Jacob as babies. Bodleian Douce 211

Manuscript Cradling a swaddled infant Book of Hours France, Rouen ca. 1500 New York Pierpont Morgan Library,


1555 Studio of  Jean Clouet (1475–1540). Louis Charles de Bourbon (1555-57)  Comte de Marle



Manuscript The Rochefoucauld Grail Lady with Sir Lancelot as a baby


1550 Friedrich-Henry of Bavaria Prince of Bohemia & Prince Palatine as a child in swaddling clothes propped up against pillows with curtains on either side


1581 Unknown artist of the Dutch School.  Cornelia Burh  at the age of 2 months


1605 Federico Barocci (1535–1612) Federico Ubaldo della Rovere, the swaddled Prince of Urbino, in the cradle


1609 Peter Paul Reubens The Adoration of the Shepherds detail


1617 Unknown artist, De Wikkkelkinderen or The Swaddled Twins, dated April 7, 1617


Anonymous, The Dordrecht Quadruplets, 1621

1682 Louis Duc de Bourgogne Paris


1638-9 Unknown French artist,   Portrait of a Child Presumed to be Louis XIV (1638-1715) on a Bed 

Swaddling fell out of favor in the 17C.  By the end of the 18C, Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote in his book Emile: Or, On Education in 1762: "The child has hardly left the mother's womb, it has hardly begun to move & stretch its limbs, when it is given new bonds. It is wrapped in swaddling bands, laid down with its head fixed, its legs stretched out, & its arms by its sides; it is wound round with linen & bandages of all sorts so that it cannot move...A child unswaddled would need constant watching; well swaddled it is cast into a corner & its cries are ignored."

1638-9 Louis XIV as an infant with his wet nurse Longuet de la Giraudiére


1600s Unknown artist of the Anglo Dutch School, Portrait of a Baby, under a quilt probably swaddled


1646 Salomon de Bray (Dutch, 1597–1663). Double Portrait of the Swaddled Twins Clara and Aelbert de Bray

1700s Unknown artist, Twins wearing Crosses

1750 Italian household - seated peasant woman unrolling swaddling clothes for infant lying in cradle

1770s Robert Laurie (British c.1755-1836) A woman holding an infant in swaddling clothes, resting the child on a ledge with a man at her shoulder. Detail

1793 William Blake The Gates of Paradise -What is Man!infant in tight swaddling clothes lies on an oak leaf resembles a caterpillar on an oak leaf which is pictured above it.