Monday, April 30, 2018

A Forgotten US Tradition: MAY BASKET DAY

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt receives a May basket of flowers from young children in 1938. Library of Congress

A Forgotten Tradition: May Basket Day
NPR April 30, 2015 11:38 AM ET
LINTON WEEKS

Maybe there really was a time when America was more innocent.  Back when May Basket Day was a thing, perhaps.

The curious custom — still practiced in discrete pockets of the country — went something like this: As the month of April rolled to an end, people would begin gathering flowers and candies and other goodies to put in May baskets to hang on the doors of friends, neighbors and loved ones on May 1.

In some communities, hanging a May basket on someone's door was a chance to express romantic interest. If a basket-hanger was espied by the recipient, the recipient would give chase and try to steal a kiss from the basket-hanger.

Perhaps considered quaint now, in decades past May Basket Day — like the ancient act of dancing around the maypole — was a widespread rite of spring in the United States.

Through the 19th and much of the 20th centuries, May Basket Day celebrations took place all across the nation:  A reporter in the Sterling, Ill., Gazette in 1871 explained the seasonal ritual this way: "A May-basket is — well, I hardly know how to describe it; but 'tis something to be hung on a door. Made of paper generally, it contains almost anything, by way of small presents you have in mind to put in it, together with your respects, best wishes — love, perhaps. It is hung after dark at the door of anybody the hanger fancies. — Which done, the said hanger knocks and scampers."

The writer went on to say, in the spirit of the times, that if a boy hangs a May basket on a girl's door and the girl catches him, "it's a great disgrace." If a girl is the hanger, "it disgraces the boy again not to catch her."

In St. Joseph, Mich., the Herald reported on May 6, 1886, "little folks observed May Basket Day custom in hanging pretty baskets to door knobs."

The Taunton, Mass., Gazette in May 1889 told the story of a young man who got up very early and walked a mile and a half to hang a basket on his sweetheart's door, only to find another basket from another beau already hanging there.

"With the young, in rural communities especially," the St. Louis Republic reported on May 1, 1900..., "it is May Basket Day — when the youthful fancy manifests its turn to thoughts of love by surreptitiously leaving baskets of spring flowers on the stoop appertaining to the home of the one adored."

Two bold children hung May baskets on the White House front door on May Day 1925. The Indiana, Pa., Gazette reported that first lady Grace Coolidge found her admirers and gave them flowers she had picked.

In Dunkirk, N.Y., the Evening Observer observed on April 30, 1932, that young people were collecting samples from wallpaper dealers and "creating baskets of all sorts and varieties as to size, shape, and color, and will hang them on the doors of their friends at dusk on May Day."

Writing in the Humboldt, Iowa, Independent in May 1976, the local extension home economist reminisced: "What a gallant occasion Mother made of May baskets. Lists were made and rewritten. It became almost as exciting as Christmas." Her family used old milk cartons for containers and they made popcorn and Boston cremes for each basket. People in her community returned May baskets to their owners at Halloween.

Here and there you can find recollections of May Basket Days past. Marci Matson, director of the historical society in Edina, Minn., writes: "The practice has a long history, stemming from the European pagan festival of spring, Beltane. The more raucous elements were toned down after the continent became Christianized, but the May pole dance and May baskets survived in a more G-rated form."

She points to other reminiscences: Joan Gage in A Rolling Crone remembers making baskets as a child in Milwaukee and leaving them for old folks in the neighborhood, just for the kindness of it.

And Old Fashioned Living recalls that Louisa May Alcott wrote about May Basket Day in New England in her 1880 children's book Jack and Jill.

From Alcott's story: "Such a twanging of bells and rapping of knockers; such a scampering of feet in the dark; such droll collisions as boys came racing round corners, or girls ran into one another's arms as they crept up and down steps on the sly; such laughing, whistling, flying about of flowers and friendly feeling—it was almost a pity that May-day did not come oftener."

Eventually, May Basket Day — like the spring flowers arranged in the baskets — began to wilt and droop. Though vestiges of the sincere ceremony still pop up on the Internet, the in-real-life event has pretty much disappeared.

Morning Madonna

Ambrogio Lorenzetti (or Ambruogio Laurati) (c. 1290-1348) Madonna and Child c 1340  The baby is depicted in swaddling clothes in this image.

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, April 29, 2018

A few early SPRING poems

Majus after Joachim von Sandrart (1606–1688)


Lenten ys come with love to toune,
With blosmen & with briddes roune,
That al this blisse bryngeth;
Dayes eyes in this dales,
Notes suete of nyhtegales;
        Uch foul song singeth....
        —Anonymous Medieval Lyric (c1310)

Whan that Aprille with his showres sote
The droght of Marche had perced to the rote...
And smale fowles maken melodye....
        —Chaucer, General Prologue,
           Canterbury Tales (late 14C)

Spring, the sweet Spring, is the year's pleasant king;
Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring,
Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing,
          Cuckoo, jug, jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!
        —Thomas Nashe, Spring (c1590)

May never was the month of love,
    For May is full of flowers;
But rather April, wet by kind,
    For love is full of showers.
        —Robert Southwell, Love's Servile Lot (late 16C)

Morning Madonna

Albrecht Altdorfer (c 1480-1538) Mary With The Child 1520

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, April 28, 2018

1482 Sandro Botticelli's Primavera, or Allegory of SPRING Detail

1482 Sandro Botticelli (Italian artist, 1445-1510) Primavera, or Allegory of Spring Detail

Centuries of Celebrating Spring

May Day, usually the 1st of May, celebrates the onset of summer, the height of Spring, & the flowering of life. The ancient European festival of spring, Beltane, features a goddess which manifests as the May Queen & Flora. A god also emerges as the May King & Jack in the Green. In ancient European festivals of spring, Beltane, the dance around the Maypole represents their unity with the pole itself being the God & the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Mayday is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.

Some festival celebrants believed that on May Eve, you could bless your garden in by making love there with your partner. Union with the land was a May 1 focus, often with actual mating outside on other lands to bless fields, herds, home. Revellers welcomed May at dawn with singing & dancing. Later communities celebtated with Morris Dancers & more formal pageants featuring Jack-in-Green& a May Queen to awaken the fertility in the Land.

In ancient springtimes, gathering & exchanging of Flowers & Greens was common on May Eve. Merrymakers decorated homes, barns, & other buildings with green budding branches. Men & women made garlands & wreaths of Flowers & Greens. Early communities prepared a May basket by filling it with flowers & goodwill & then giving it to someone in need of healing & caring. Women in early cultures formed wreaths of freshly picked flowers to wear in the hair to radiate joy & beauty. Early groups often danced the Maypole to feel the balancing of the Divine Female & Male within.

In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. Roman Catholic traditions of adoring statues of Mary with garlands of flowers on May 1 have Roman Pagan roots. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), & Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name. On May 1, early cultures followed a pastoral tradition of turning sheep, cows, other livestock out to pasture. In early Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter & Summer were enacted at this time. Maypoles in Spain sometimes were topped with a male effigy which was later burned. In Germany, Fir trees were cut on May Eve by young unmarried men, branches removed, decorated, put up in village square, & guarded all night until dance occurred on May Day. In England , permanent Maypoles sometimes were erected on village greens. In some villages, there also were smaller Maypoles in the yards of households.

Fire was a common accompaniment to many May celebrations. Celebrants marked the holiday by lighting fires, dancing, feasting & often performing fertility rites. Many built a bonfire & then moved through it or danced clockwise around it. Livestock was driven around a Beltane fire or between 2 fires for purification & fertility blessings. In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places. In later times, Christian priests kindled their spring fires in fields near the church after performing a Christian church service. Branches & twigs often were carried around these fire 3 times, then hung over hearths to bless homes.  Risk-takers made a wish for good luck before jumping a bonfire or the flame of a candle. Some believed during May the veil between the human & supernatural worlds is at its thinnest, making them potent days for magic. Beltane may refer to the “fires of Bel,” in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus. Some pagans believed fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna


William-Adolphe Bouguereau (French Academic painter, 1825-1905) The Madonna of the Roses 1903

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, April 27, 2018

SPRING Male Personification 16C

Spring by Jacob Matham (Dutch artist, 1571-1631)

Centuries of Celebrating Spring

May Day, usually the 1st of May, celebrates the onset of summer, the height of Spring, & the flowering of life. The ancient European festival of spring, Beltane, features a goddess which manifests as the May Queen & Flora. A god also emerges as the May King & Jack in the Green. In ancient European festivals of spring, Beltane, the dance around the Maypole represents their unity with the pole itself being the God & the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Mayday is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.

Some festival celebrants believed that on May Eve, you could bless your garden in by making love there with your partner. Union with the land was a May 1 focus, often with actual mating outside on other lands to bless fields, herds, home. Revellers welcomed May at dawn with singing & dancing. Later communities celebtated with Morris Dancers & more formal pageants featuring Jack-in-Green& a May Queen to awaken the fertility in the Land.

In ancient springtimes, gathering & exchanging of Flowers & Greens was common on May Eve. Merrymakers decorated homes, barns, & other buildings with green budding branches. Men & women made garlands & wreaths of Flowers & Greens. Early communities prepared a May basket by filling it with flowers & goodwill & then giving it to someone in need of healing & caring. Women in early cultures formed wreaths of freshly picked flowers to wear in the hair to radiate joy & beauty. Early groups often danced the Maypole to feel the balancing of the Divine Female & Male within.

In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. Roman Catholic traditions of adoring statues of Mary with garlands of flowers on May 1 have Roman Pagan roots. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), & Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name. On May 1, early cultures followed a pastoral tradition of turning sheep, cows, other livestock out to pasture. In early Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter & Summer were enacted at this time. Maypoles in Spain sometimes were topped with a male effigy which was later burned. In Germany, Fir trees were cut on May Eve by young unmarried men, branches removed, decorated, put up in village square, & guarded all night until dance occurred on May Day. In England , permanent Maypoles sometimes were erected on village greens. In some villages, there also were smaller Maypoles in the yards of households.

Fire was a common accompaniment to many May celebrations. Celebrants marked the holiday by lighting fires, dancing, feasting & often performing fertility rites. Many built a bonfire & then moved through it or danced clockwise around it. Livestock was driven around a Beltane fire or between 2 fires for purification & fertility blessings. In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places. In later times, Christian priests kindled their spring fires in fields near the church after performing a Christian church service. Branches & twigs often were carried around these fire 3 times, then hung over hearths to bless homes.  Risk-takers made a wish for good luck before jumping a bonfire or the flame of a candle. Some believed during May the veil between the human & supernatural worlds is at its thinnest, making them potent days for magic. Beltane may refer to the “fires of Bel,” in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus. Some pagans believed fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna

Giulio Romano (Italian, probably 1499-1546) Madonna and Child with St John c 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.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Woman with a Basket of SPRING Flowers by William Marshall (1617-1649)

William Marshall (British printmaker, 1617-1649) Woman with a Spring Flower Basket


Centuries of Celebrating Spring

May Day, usually the 1st of May, celebrates the onset of summer, the height of Spring, & the flowering of life. The ancient European festival of spring, Beltane, features a goddess which manifests as the May Queen & Flora. A god also emerges as the May King & Jack in the Green. In ancient European festivals of spring, Beltane, the dance around the Maypole represents their unity with the pole itself being the God & the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Mayday is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.

Some festival celebrants believed that on May Eve, you could bless your garden in by making love there with your partner. Union with the land was a May 1 focus, often with actual mating outside on other lands to bless fields, herds, home. Revellers welcomed May at dawn with singing & dancing. Later communities celebtated with Morris Dancers & more formal pageants featuring Jack-in-Green& a May Queen to awaken the fertility in the Land.

In ancient springtimes, gathering & exchanging of Flowers & Greens was common on May Eve. Merrymakers decorated homes, barns, & other buildings with green budding branches. Men & women made garlands & wreaths of Flowers & Greens. Early communities prepared a May basket by filling it with flowers & goodwill & then giving it to someone in need of healing & caring. Women in early cultures formed wreaths of freshly picked flowers to wear in the hair to radiate joy & beauty. Early groups often danced the Maypole to feel the balancing of the Divine Female & Male within.

In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. Roman Catholic traditions of adoring statues of Mary with garlands of flowers on May 1 have Roman Pagan roots. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), & Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name. On May 1, early cultures followed a pastoral tradition of turning sheep, cows, other livestock out to pasture. In early Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter & Summer were enacted at this time. Maypoles in Spain sometimes were topped with a male effigy which was later burned. In Germany, Fir trees were cut on May Eve by young unmarried men, branches removed, decorated, put up in village square, & guarded all night until dance occurred on May Day. In England , permanent Maypoles sometimes were erected on village greens. In some villages, there also were smaller Maypoles in the yards of households.

Fire was a common accompaniment to many May celebrations. Celebrants marked the holiday by lighting fires, dancing, feasting & often performing fertility rites. Many built a bonfire & then moved through it or danced clockwise around it. Livestock was driven around a Beltane fire or between 2 fires for purification & fertility blessings. In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places. In later times, Christian priests kindled their spring fires in fields near the church after performing a Christian church service. Branches & twigs often were carried around these fire 3 times, then hung over hearths to bless homes.  Risk-takers made a wish for good luck before jumping a bonfire or the flame of a candle. Some believed during May the veil between the human & supernatural worlds is at its thinnest, making them potent days for magic. Beltane may refer to the “fires of Bel,” in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus. Some pagans believed fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Madonna from the 800s

800s Madonna and Child Book of Kells folio 7v  Trinity College, Dublin

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, April 25, 2018

1300s -1400s Hunting for SPRINGTIME Love

Images of April from 14C-15C Manuscripts  The Hague, MMW, 10 F 33.  Surely looks like a potential mating ritual.

Centuries of Celebrating Spring

May Day, usually the 1st of May, celebrates the onset of summer, the height of Spring, & the flowering of life. The ancient European festival of spring, Beltane, features a goddess which manifests as the May Queen & Flora. A god also emerges as the May King & Jack in the Green. In ancient European festivals of spring, Beltane, the dance around the Maypole represents their unity with the pole itself being the God & the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Mayday is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.

Some festival celebrants believed that on May Eve, you could bless your garden in by making love there with your partner. Union with the land was a May 1 focus, often with actual mating outside on other lands to bless fields, herds, home. Revellers welcomed May at dawn with singing & dancing. Later communities celebtated with Morris Dancers & more formal pageants featuring Jack-in-Green& a May Queen to awaken the fertility in the Land.

In ancient springtimes, gathering & exchanging of Flowers & Greens was common on May Eve. Merrymakers decorated homes, barns, & other buildings with green budding branches. Men & women made garlands & wreaths of Flowers & Greens. Early communities prepared a May basket by filling it with flowers & goodwill & then giving it to someone in need of healing & caring. Women in early cultures formed wreaths of freshly picked flowers to wear in the hair to radiate joy & beauty. Early groups often danced the Maypole to feel the balancing of the Divine Female & Male within.

In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. Roman Catholic traditions of adoring statues of Mary with garlands of flowers on May 1 have Roman Pagan roots. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), & Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name. On May 1, early cultures followed a pastoral tradition of turning sheep, cows, other livestock out to pasture. In early Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter & Summer were enacted at this time. Maypoles in Spain sometimes were topped with a male effigy which was later burned. In Germany, Fir trees were cut on May Eve by young unmarried men, branches removed, decorated, put up in village square, & guarded all night until dance occurred on May Day. In England , permanent Maypoles sometimes were erected on village greens. In some villages, there also were smaller Maypoles in the yards of households.

Fire was a common accompaniment to many May celebrations. Celebrants marked the holiday by lighting fires, dancing, feasting & often performing fertility rites. Many built a bonfire & then moved through it or danced clockwise around it. Livestock was driven around a Beltane fire or between 2 fires for purification & fertility blessings. In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places. In later times, Christian priests kindled their spring fires in fields near the church after performing a Christian church service. Branches & twigs often were carried around these fire 3 times, then hung over hearths to bless homes.  Risk-takers made a wish for good luck before jumping a bonfire or the flame of a candle. Some believed during May the veil between the human & supernatural worlds is at its thinnest, making them potent days for magic. Beltane may refer to the “fires of Bel,” in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus. Some pagans believed fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna

Antoniazzo Romano (c 1452-c 1512) Virgin and Child with Donor Detail.  Romano, born Antonio di Benedetto Aquilo degli Aquili (c. 1430-c 1510) was an Italian Early Renaissance painter, the leading figure of the Roman school during the 15C.  In the 1470s, he worked on the decoration of the Vatican Palace where his figures acquired gentler expressions though retaining traditional Medieval features.

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, April 24, 2018

17C Flora - Jan Brueghel II, (1601-1678) & Abraham Govaerts (1581-1642)

Jan Brueghel II, (1601-1678) and Abraham Govaerts (1581-1642) Flora Seated in a Wooded Landscape Surrounded by Flowers

Here, Flora, the ancient Italian goddess of flowers, is draped in luxurious cream & scarlet robes & contrasting with the blue landscape behind her. Set in a secluded wooded clearing filled with an astonishing variety of wild flowers, the classical subject matter blends with Flemish realism in the 2 rustic huts depicted on the hill at the right.

Flora is framed by flowers. At her left side, rests a myriad of luscious pink roses, narcissi, buttercups, violas, primroses & poppies; while on her other side, tulips & bluebells mingle together. Nestled in the lush grass next to a wicker basket overflowing with blooms are 2 small rabbits. Throughout the ages the rabbit has been a symbol of fertility & lust. Perhaps these rabbits allude to the licentious nature of Flora’s ancient Roman festival, the Floralia which was held in April & included theatrical entertainment featuring naked women. 


Both Ovid & Lucretius describe the goddess Flora in their works. Lucretius, in his explanation of the origins of nature, De Rerum Natura, describes how Flora followed in the footsteps of Zephyr (the east wind) in the spring time, strewing his way with blossoms.1  Ovid, from whom Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) later drew inspiration for his Primavera (Uffizi Gallery, Florence), tells of Flora fleeing from Zephyr: "When he at length embraced her, flowers spilled from her lips; & she was transformed into Flora."


Abraham Govaerts’ paintings typically incorporate mythological or biblical subjects within a mannerist landscape. Figures, in this case flowers, were often added by other artists.  Brueghel II & Govaerts frequently collaborated on works, particularly those with mythological subject matter. Govaerts arranged the landscape, & Jan Brueghel II painted the flowers. The tradition of lush flower painting was established by Brueghel II’s father, Jan Brueghel I (1568-1625).


¹ Lucretius, De Rerum Natura V.736-739.
² Ovid, Fasti V.193-214. 
See original article plus more information here. 

Morning Madonna


José de Paez. (Mexican artist, 1720-1795) Nuestra Señora de Refugio 1780. He was known as a great artist of religious pieces with special preference on Marian devotions, and as one of the most prolific artists from New Spain.

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, April 23, 2018

SPRING 16-18C Children with Flowers - real & symbolic

1580s Attributed to Adriaen van der Linde  c.1560-1609

During the Renaissance 1400-1700, nature was viewed as a reflection of the divine, & flowers often were seen as reflections of Christian morals. During the Medieval period 5C - 15C, many gardens were created with spiritual & religious symbolism in mind. An intricate & almost clandestine language based on flower symbolism developed, & flowers in paintings sometimes became associated with emotion, morals, & ideology.
Symbolic & Religious Meaning of Flowers
Red Carnation = romantic love.
Daisy = innocence.
Hyacinth = prudence & peace of mind.
Iris = the Virgin Mary.
Lily = purity, virginity, & justice.
Rose = the Virgin Mary & love.
Sunflower = divine love, & devotion.
Tulip = nobility.
Violet = modesty & humility.

1582 Daniël van den Queborn (Dutch artist, 1552–1602)  Louise Juliana of Orange-Nassau aged c. 6

1600-20 English School. Girl with a Rose, Unknown Artist

1611 Frans Pourbus, Jr. (1569-1622) Queen Henrietta Maria as a child

1619 Unknown artist Four Children of Sir Thomas Lucy III and Alice Spencer (Robert, Richard, Constance and Margaret)


1600s Dutch School, early 17C. Portrait of a Young Girl

1620s Unknown artist, portrait of a Young Boy, Henry France or Wales


1623 Paulus Moreelse Girl 1623 National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin


1620-30s Cornelis de Vos (Flemish artist, 1585-1651) Artist's Daughter


1621 Cornelis de Vos (Flemish artist, 1585-1651) Magdalena de Vos with an Orange & a Rose


1635 Jacob Gerritsz Cuyp (Dutch artist, 1594-1650) Three Children of Sebastiaan Francken and Jacobmijna van Casteren


1638 Willem van der Vliet (Dutch artist, c 1584-1642) Portrait of a Child


1647 Pierre Mignard (French artist, 1612-1695) The Children of the duc de Bouillon


1650 Jan Mytens (Dutch artist, c.1614-1670) Portrait of an Unknown Young Girl Seated on the Ground with a Basket of Roses


1660s Nicolaes Maes (Dutch artist, 1634-1693) Two Young Girls


1660 Peter Lely (English artist, 1618-1680) Winston & Arabella children of Sir Winston Churchill


1663 Jan Albertsz. Rotius (Dutch artist, 1624-1666) Portrait of a Young Girl with Carnations


1670 before Attributed to Italian Sebastiano Giuliense called Sebastiano II


1695 Unknown artist, Mary Myddelton (1688–1747) and Sir William Myddelton (1694–1718) as Children


1700s Bartholomew Dandridge (Englsih artist, 1691-c.1754) The Ballard Children


1723 Alexis Simon Belle (French artist, 1674–1734) Mariana Victoria of Spain (1718-1734) with Spring flowers in a garden by a fountain near a statue.


1730 Gerardus Duyckinck (Colonial American artist, 1695-1746) Girl in Blue Dress

1730s Charles Bridges (Colonial American artist, 1670-1747) Girls of the Grymes Family


1750 John Singleton Copley (American, artist, 1738–1815) Elizabeth Greenleaf


1755 John Singleton Copley (American artist, 1738-1815). The Gore Children


1772 Carl-Ludwig Christinek (Belarus artist, 1732–1792) Sisters

Morning Madonna

Madonna and Child by Tytus Czyżewski (1882-1932), a Polish artist mainly based in Paris, designed this illustration based on  traditional Christmas woodcuts for his book of carols. The artist was a painter, poet, playwright, co-founder of the Polish Expressionist group the Formists.

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, April 22, 2018

SPRING Flowers from a 1560 Wall Mural

1560 April Flowers Mural in Sta. Maria del Castello Mesocco, Kanton Graubünden, Switzerland. Gentleman on horseback holds Spring flowers in his hand.

Centuries of Celebrating Spring

May Day, usually the 1st of May, celebrates the onset of summer, the height of Spring, & the flowering of life. The ancient European festival of spring, Beltane, features a goddess which manifests as the May Queen & Flora. A god also emerges as the May King & Jack in the Green. In ancient European festivals of spring, Beltane, the dance around the Maypole represents their unity with the pole itself being the God & the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Mayday is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.

Some festival celebrants believed that on May Eve, you could bless your garden in by making love there with your partner. Union with the land was a May 1 focus, often with actual mating outside on other lands to bless fields, herds, home. Revellers welcomed May at dawn with singing & dancing. Later communities celebtated with Morris Dancers & more formal pageants featuring Jack-in-Green& a May Queen to awaken the fertility in the Land.

In ancient springtimes, gathering & exchanging of Flowers & Greens was common on May Eve. Merrymakers decorated homes, barns, & other buildings with green budding branches. Men & women made garlands & wreaths of Flowers & Greens. Early communities prepared a May basket by filling it with flowers & goodwill & then giving it to someone in need of healing & caring. Women in early cultures formed wreaths of freshly picked flowers to wear in the hair to radiate joy & beauty. Early groups often danced the Maypole to feel the balancing of the Divine Female & Male within.

In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. Roman Catholic traditions of adoring statues of Mary with garlands of flowers on May 1 have Roman Pagan roots. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), & Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name. On May 1, early cultures followed a pastoral tradition of turning sheep, cows, other livestock out to pasture. In early Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter & Summer were enacted at this time. Maypoles in Spain sometimes were topped with a male effigy which was later burned. In Germany, Fir trees were cut on May Eve by young unmarried men, branches removed, decorated, put up in village square, & guarded all night until dance occurred on May Day. In England , permanent Maypoles sometimes were erected on village greens. In some villages, there also were smaller Maypoles in the yards of households.

Fire was a common accompaniment to many May celebrations. Celebrants marked the holiday by lighting fires, dancing, feasting & often performing fertility rites. Many built a bonfire & then moved through it or danced clockwise around it. Livestock was driven around a Beltane fire or between 2 fires for purification & fertility blessings. In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places. In later times, Christian priests kindled their spring fires in fields near the church after performing a Christian church service. Branches & twigs often were carried around these fire 3 times, then hung over hearths to bless homes.  Risk-takers made a wish for good luck before jumping a bonfire or the flame of a candle. Some believed during May the veil between the human & supernatural worlds is at its thinnest, making them potent days for magic. Beltane may refer to the “fires of Bel,” in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus. Some pagans believed fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna

Roberto Ferruzzi (Italian artist, 1854–1934) Madonna of the Streets 1887

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, April 21, 2018

SPRING Flowers from Illuminated Manuscripts

 1515 April Flowers Simon Bening (1483-1561) The Book of Hours, University of Leeds, Brotherton Collection MS9. Gentleman & two boys pick Spring branches from trees.

Centuries of Celebrating Spring

May Day, usually the 1st of May, celebrates the onset of summer, the height of Spring, & the flowering of life. The ancient European festival of spring, Beltane, features a goddess which manifests as the May Queen & Flora. A god also emerges as the May King & Jack in the Green. In ancient European festivals of spring, Beltane, the dance around the Maypole represents their unity with the pole itself being the God & the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Mayday is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.

Some festival celebrants believed that on May Eve, you could bless your garden in by making love there with your partner. Union with the land was a May 1 focus, often with actual mating outside on other lands to bless fields, herds, home. Revellers welcomed May at dawn with singing & dancing. Later communities celebtated with Morris Dancers & more formal pageants featuring Jack-in-Green& a May Queen to awaken the fertility in the Land.

In ancient springtimes, gathering & exchanging of Flowers & Greens was common on May Eve. Merrymakers decorated homes, barns, & other buildings with green budding branches. Men & women made garlands & wreaths of Flowers & Greens. Early communities prepared a May basket by filling it with flowers & goodwill & then giving it to someone in need of healing & caring. Women in early cultures formed wreaths of freshly picked flowers to wear in the hair to radiate joy & beauty. Early groups often danced the Maypole to feel the balancing of the Divine Female & Male within.

In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. Roman Catholic traditions of adoring statues of Mary with garlands of flowers on May 1 have Roman Pagan roots. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), & Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name. On May 1, early cultures followed a pastoral tradition of turning sheep, cows, other livestock out to pasture. In early Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter & Summer were enacted at this time. Maypoles in Spain sometimes were topped with a male effigy which was later burned. In Germany, Fir trees were cut on May Eve by young unmarried men, branches removed, decorated, put up in village square, & guarded all night until dance occurred on May Day. In England , permanent Maypoles sometimes were erected on village greens. In some villages, there also were smaller Maypoles in the yards of households.

Fire was a common accompaniment to many May celebrations. Celebrants marked the holiday by lighting fires, dancing, feasting & often performing fertility rites. Many built a bonfire & then moved through it or danced clockwise around it. Livestock was driven around a Beltane fire or between 2 fires for purification & fertility blessings. In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places. In later times, Christian priests kindled their spring fires in fields near the church after performing a Christian church service. Branches & twigs often were carried around these fire 3 times, then hung over hearths to bless homes.  Risk-takers made a wish for good luck before jumping a bonfire or the flame of a candle. Some believed during May the veil between the human & supernatural worlds is at its thinnest, making them potent days for magic. Beltane may refer to the “fires of Bel,” in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus. Some pagans believed fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna

Giampietrino, possibly Giovanni Pietro Rizzoli (active 1495–1549), Madonna and Child 1520s

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, April 20, 2018

SPRING Flowers from Illuminated Manuscripts

 1515 April Flowers Farmyard Scene Da Costa Hours, by Simon Bening (1483-84–1561) Belgium, Bruges, ca. Pierpont Morgan Library. M.730 Psalter-Hours of Guiluys de Boisleux Arras, France. Young man holds Spring flowers in both hands.

Centuries of Celebrating Spring

May Day, usually the 1st of May, celebrates the onset of summer, the height of Spring, & the flowering of life. The ancient European festival of spring, Beltane, features a goddess which manifests as the May Queen & Flora. A god also emerges as the May King & Jack in the Green. In ancient European festivals of spring, Beltane, the dance around the Maypole represents their unity with the pole itself being the God & the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Mayday is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.

Some festival celebrants believed that on May Eve, you could bless your garden in by making love there with your partner. Union with the land was a May 1 focus, often with actual mating outside on other lands to bless fields, herds, home. Revellers welcomed May at dawn with singing & dancing. Later communities celebtated with Morris Dancers & more formal pageants featuring Jack-in-Green& a May Queen to awaken the fertility in the Land.

In ancient springtimes, gathering & exchanging of Flowers & Greens was common on May Eve. Merrymakers decorated homes, barns, & other buildings with green budding branches. Men & women made garlands & wreaths of Flowers & Greens. Early communities prepared a May basket by filling it with flowers & goodwill & then giving it to someone in need of healing & caring. Women in early cultures formed wreaths of freshly picked flowers to wear in the hair to radiate joy & beauty. Early groups often danced the Maypole to feel the balancing of the Divine Female & Male within.

In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. Roman Catholic traditions of adoring statues of Mary with garlands of flowers on May 1 have Roman Pagan roots. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), & Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name. On May 1, early cultures followed a pastoral tradition of turning sheep, cows, other livestock out to pasture. In early Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter & Summer were enacted at this time. Maypoles in Spain sometimes were topped with a male effigy which was later burned. In Germany, Fir trees were cut on May Eve by young unmarried men, branches removed, decorated, put up in village square, & guarded all night until dance occurred on May Day. In England , permanent Maypoles sometimes were erected on village greens. In some villages, there also were smaller Maypoles in the yards of households.

Fire was a common accompaniment to many May celebrations. Celebrants marked the holiday by lighting fires, dancing, feasting & often performing fertility rites. Many built a bonfire & then moved through it or danced clockwise around it. Livestock was driven around a Beltane fire or between 2 fires for purification & fertility blessings. In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places. In later times, Christian priests kindled their spring fires in fields near the church after performing a Christian church service. Branches & twigs often were carried around these fire 3 times, then hung over hearths to bless homes.  Risk-takers made a wish for good luck before jumping a bonfire or the flame of a candle. Some believed during May the veil between the human & supernatural worlds is at its thinnest, making them potent days for magic. Beltane may refer to the “fires of Bel,” in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus. Some pagans believed fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna


Madonna and Child Nursing. Early Flemish School 16th century

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, April 19, 2018

SPRING Flowers from Illuminated Manuscripts

1500 April Flowers artist Jean Poyer, The Hours of Henry VIII. In a garden picking Spring flowers and making wreaths.

Centuries of Celebrating Spring

May Day, usually the 1st of May, celebrates the onset of summer, the height of Spring, & the flowering of life. The ancient European festival of spring, Beltane, features a goddess which manifests as the May Queen & Flora. A god also emerges as the May King & Jack in the Green. In ancient European festivals of spring, Beltane, the dance around the Maypole represents their unity with the pole itself being the God & the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Mayday is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.

Some festival celebrants believed that on May Eve, you could bless your garden in by making love there with your partner. Union with the land was a May 1 focus, often with actual mating outside on other lands to bless fields, herds, home. Revellers welcomed May at dawn with singing & dancing. Later communities celebtated with Morris Dancers & more formal pageants featuring Jack-in-Green& a May Queen to awaken the fertility in the Land.

In ancient springtimes, gathering & exchanging of Flowers & Greens was common on May Eve. Merrymakers decorated homes, barns, & other buildings with green budding branches. Men & women made garlands & wreaths of Flowers & Greens. Early communities prepared a May basket by filling it with flowers & goodwill & then giving it to someone in need of healing & caring. Women in early cultures formed wreaths of freshly picked flowers to wear in the hair to radiate joy & beauty. Early groups often danced the Maypole to feel the balancing of the Divine Female & Male within.

In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. Roman Catholic traditions of adoring statues of Mary with garlands of flowers on May 1 have Roman Pagan roots. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), & Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name. On May 1, early cultures followed a pastoral tradition of turning sheep, cows, other livestock out to pasture. In early Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter & Summer were enacted at this time. Maypoles in Spain sometimes were topped with a male effigy which was later burned. In Germany, Fir trees were cut on May Eve by young unmarried men, branches removed, decorated, put up in village square, & guarded all night until dance occurred on May Day. In England , permanent Maypoles sometimes were erected on village greens. In some villages, there also were smaller Maypoles in the yards of households.

Fire was a common accompaniment to many May celebrations. Celebrants marked the holiday by lighting fires, dancing, feasting & often performing fertility rites. Many built a bonfire & then moved through it or danced clockwise around it. Livestock was driven around a Beltane fire or between 2 fires for purification & fertility blessings. In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places. In later times, Christian priests kindled their spring fires in fields near the church after performing a Christian church service. Branches & twigs often were carried around these fire 3 times, then hung over hearths to bless homes.  Risk-takers made a wish for good luck before jumping a bonfire or the flame of a candle. Some believed during May the veil between the human & supernatural worlds is at its thinnest, making them potent days for magic. Beltane may refer to the “fires of Bel,” in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus. Some pagans believed fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.