Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Abbott Handerson Thayer (American artist, 1849–1921) The Angel 1903

Russian Fortune Telling during the 40-day Christmas Lent

 Russian Mykola Pymonenko (Russian artist, 1862-1912), Yuletide Fortune Tellers  1888

In Russia, there is a 40-day Lent preceding Christmas Day (January 7), when many practicing Christians do not eat any meat. The Christmas Lent period ends with the 1st star in the night sky on January 6 – a symbol of Jesus Christ's birth. Christmas Eve marks the start of an old Slavic holiday, Svyatki, which lasts until January 19, the day Russian Orthodox Epiphany is celebrated. During this 2-week period old traditions of fortune telling & caroling are carried on by many residents. Some cook vareniki, a kind of stuffed dumplings filled with mushrooms & potatoes plus "telling objects" - tomatoes for love; coins for wealth; a bay leaves for jobs & fame; rings for weddings; & thread for travel. Some drop melting wax into water & use the resulting shapes to predict the future.  Some set fire to a crumpled piece of paper using the burnt remains to fortell coming events.

Orest Kiprensky (Russian artist, 1782-1836) Fortune Teller with a Candle 1828

Konstantin Makovsky (Russian artist, 1839-1915) Christmas Fortune Telling

Mikhail Vrubel (Russian painter, 1856-1910) The Fortune Teller

Morning Madonna

Unknown Master, Hungarian (active 1420-1430) The Virgin using a drop spindle. The circular device on the right is a yarn swift.

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.