Thursday, May 31, 2018

19C Historical depiction of an English MAYPOLE

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

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 believe 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 believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna

Marianne Stokes (Austrian born English painter, 1855–1927) Madonna and Child 1907

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 30, 2018

18C MAYPOLE

Jan Josef Horemans the Elder (Dutch artist, 1682-1759),  Spring & Dancing Around The Maypole

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 tree was 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 believe 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 believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna


Johann Friedrich Overbeck (German artist, 1789–1869) Mary and Elisabeth with John and Baby Jesus

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 29, 2018

18C Raising the MAYPOLE

Mayday Dominique Joseph Vanderburch (1722-1785) Raising the Maypole while musicians are practicing & one couple is already dancing.
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 tree was 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 believe 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 believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna

Anthony van Dyck and workshop (Flemish artist, 1599-1641) Madonna and Child c 1620

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 28, 2018

18C Villagers Making Merry with MAYPOLE in Background

18C Jan Josef Horemans II. (1714-1790) Villagers Making Merry with Maypole in Background

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 tree was 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 believe 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 believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna

Giorgio di Tomaso Schiavone (Dalmatian artist, c 1433-1504) Madonna and Child with musical angels c 1459

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 27, 2018

London 1760s MAY DAY Parade

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

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 tree was 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 believe 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 believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna

Unknown Master, German (active around 1420 in Westphalia). Virgin and Child with 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.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

18C MAYPOLE at a Country Inn

Maypole at a Country Inn by Johann Peter Neeff (1753-1796)

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 tree was 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 believe 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 believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna

Unknown Master, German (active 1460-1480 in Cologne). Sts Anne, Christopher, Gereon and Peter with the Madonna and Child 1480

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 25, 2018

MAYPOLE in the background 1767 England

1767 Printed for Robert Sayer, London. 

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 tree was 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 believe 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 believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna

Unknown Master, Spanish (first half of 15th century) Madonna and Child with Angels Playing Music

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 24, 2018

18C Cross-dressing MAY DAY Parade

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, 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 & green branches for the May Day celebration.
After becoming a source of competition between Britain's Works Guilds, the greenery became increasingly elaborate, finally covering the entire man. This figure 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.


The concept of Jack in the Green spread to other venues as well.  Isaac Mendes Belisario – Red Set Girls, and Jack-in-the-Green (1837) National Gallery of Jamaica

1863 depiction of a May Day parade featuring a Jack in the Green

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 & excesses, vanished from most local parades.

Morning Madonna

Jacob Jordaens (Flemish artist, 1593-1678) The Holy Family with an Angel

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 23, 2018

17C Romance SPRING & SUMMER Jean Leblond 1605-1666

Jean Leblond 1605-1666 The Four Seasons - Spring


Jean Leblond 1605-1666 The Four Seasons - Summer

18C MAYPOLE Dance 1741 from Vauxhall Gardens

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

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 tree was 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 believe 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 believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Morning Madonna

Master of Moulins, Madonna & Child, 1490

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 22, 2018

18C MAY DAY by Josef Frans Nollekens (Flemish-British, 1702-1748)

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

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 believe 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 believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

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.

Monday, May 21, 2018

1699 Town MAYPOLE by Salomon van Ruysdael

1669 Scene before a Maypole with Alkmaar Church in the Background by Salomon van Ruysdael (Dutch Landscape Painter, 1600-1670)
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 believe 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 believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

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.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

17C American colonist William Bradford (1590-1657) is disgusted with MAY DAY celebrations

William Bradford (1590-1657) Of Plymouth Plantation (Written 1630–50)
The Pestilent Morton and his Merry Mount
This woodcut of six boys dancing around a maypole, published in Massachusetts in 1788, is the oldest American published illustration of a country dance. 

William Bradford (c.1590 – 1657) was an English Separatist leader who grew up in Yorkshire, and later moved to Leiden, Holland, and helped found the Plymouth Colony. He was a signatory to the Mayflower Compact while aboard the Mayflower in 1620. He served as Plymouth Colony Governor 5 times covering about 30 years between 1621 and 1657. His journal, Of Plymouth Plantation, covered the period from 1620 to 1657 in Plymouth Colony.

"They also set up a May-pole, drinking and dancing about it many days together, inviting the Indian women, for their consorts, dancing and frisking together, (like so many fairies, or furies rather.) and worse practices. As if they had anew revived and celebrated the feast of the Roman goddess Flora, or the beastly practices of the mad Bacchanalians. Morton likewise (to show his poetry) composed sundry rhymes and verses, some tending to lasciviousness, and others to the detraction and scandal of some persons, which he affixed to this idle or idol May-pole. They changed also the name of their place, and instead of calling it Mount Wollaston, they call it Merry Mount, as if this jollity would have lasted ever. But this continued not long, for after Morton was sent for England, (as follows to be declared,) shortly after came over that worthy gentleman, Mr. John Endicott, who brought over a patent under the broad seal, for the government of the Massachusetts, who visiting those parts caused that May-pole to be cut down, and rebuked them for their profaneness, and admonished them to look there should be better walking; so they now, or others, changed the name of their place again, and called it Mount Dagon."


Even John Adams wrote notes on Thomas Morton, the "Indians," & the Maypole on October 19. 1802. As did others...

Hutchinson’s History of Massachusetts Bay. Page 7. 
In 1625 one Capt. Wollaston with about 30 Persons began a Plantation near Westons. They gave it the name of Mount Wollaston. It was known by that name some years after, but at length the name was lost in that of Braintree, of which Town it is a part. The particular Hill, which caused the name of Mount is in the farm of John Quincy Esq late one of the council for the Province. No mention is made of a Patent to Wollaston. One (Thomas) Morton of Furnivals Inn was of this Company. He was not left in command, but contrived to make himself chief, changed the name of Mount Wollaston to Merry mount, Sett all the Servants free, erected a May pole, and lived a Life of dissipation untill all the Stock intended for trade was consumed. He was charged with furnishing the Indians with Guns and Ammunition, and teaching them the use of them. At length he made himself so obnoxious to the Planters in all parts, that at their general desire the People of New Plimouth Seized him by an armed force and confined him untill they had an opportunity of Sending him to England.

Prince’s New England Chronology page 152.
This year, 1625 comes over Capt. Wollaston with three or four more of Some Eminence, and a great many Servants, Provisions &c to begin a Plantation. Deputy Governor Dudley says there came 30 with Capt. Wollaston; in his Letter to the Countess of Lincoln of March 28 1631 printed in 8.vo at Boston 1696. They pitch on a place in the Massachusetts Bay Since named Braintree, on the northerly mountainous part thereof which they call Mount Wollaston, among whom is one Thomas Morton, who had been a kind of petty Fogger at Furnival’s Inn.

Prince’s Chronology page 162. Capt. Wollaston having continued at Mount Wollaston Some time, and finding Things not answer his Expectation, he carries a great part of the Servants to Virginia writes back to Mr. Rasdall one of his Chief Partners to carry another part, and appoints Mr Fitcher his Lieutenant, till he or Rasdall returns. But Rasdall being gone, Morton excites the rest to turn away B. Fitcher to seek his bread among his Neighbours, till he can get a pass to England. After this they fall to great licentiousness and [Profaneness].

Prince’s Chronology page 175. That worthy Gentleman Mr Endicot coming over for the Government of the Massachusetts, visits the People at Merry Mount, causes the Maypole to be cutt down, rebukes them for their Profaneness, admonishes them to look there be better Walking and the Name is changed to Mount Dagon. But Morton and Company, to maintain their Riot, hearing what Gain the French and Fisherman made by Selling Guns with Powder and Shot to the Natives; he beings the Same trade in those parts; teaches how to use them, employs the Indians in hunting and fowling for him wherein they become more active than any English, by their Swiftness of foot, nimbleness of Body, quick sightedness, continual Exercise and knowing the haunts of all Sorts of Game. And finding the Execution Guns will do, and the benefit thereby, become mad after them And give any price for them. Morton Sells them all he can Spare and sends to England for many more. The Neighbouring English who live Scattered in diverse places, and have no Strength in any meeting the Indians in the Woods, thus armed, are in great terror, and those in remoter places See the mischief will quickly Spread if not forthwith prevented. Besides they See they Should not keep their Servants: for Morton receives any, how vile soever; and they, with the discontented will flock to him, if this nest continues; and the other English will be in more fear of this debauched and wicked Crow, than of the Savages themselves. The chief of the Straggling Plantations therefore Piscatoway, Naumkeak, Winisimet, Wessaguscusset, Natasco and other places, meet, and agree to Solicit those of Plimouth, who are of greater Strength than all, to join and Stop this growing Mischief, by Suppressing Morton and Company before they grow to a further head. Those of Plimouth receiving their Messengers and Letters, are willing to afford our help. However, first sent a Messenger with Letters to advise him in a friendly Way to forbear those Courses. But he Scorns their advice, asks who has to do with him; declares he will trade pieces with the Indians, in despight of all &c. We send a Second time to be better Advised; for the Country cannot bear the Injury; it is against their common Safety and the Kings Proclamation. He says the Kings Proclamation is no Law, has no Penalty but his displeasure, that the King is dead and his displeasure with him; and threatens, if any come to molest him, let them look to themselves; he’ll prepare for them. Upon this they See no Way but force: and therefore obtain of the Plimouth Governor, to send Captain Standish with some aid to take him. The Captain coming, Morton arms his consorts, heats them with liquor, bars his doors, Setts his Powder and Bulletts on the table ready, the Captains Summons him to yeild, but has only Scoffs &c. At length Morton fearing We Should do some violence to the house, he and Some of his Crew came out to Shoot the Captain: At which the Captain Steps up to him, puts by his piece, takes him, enters the house, disperses the worst of the Company, leaves the more modest there, brings Morton to Plymouth: where he is kept, till a Ship going to the Isle of Shoals to England, he is sent in her to the New England Council, with a Messenger and Letters to inform against him &c: yet they do nothing to him not so much as rebuke him and he returns next year.

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.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

17C Celebration with a Maypole at Weybridge near London

This painting is a copy of a painted wooden overmantle, possibly showing the village of Weybridge c 1699-1701.

In 1571, commissioners were appointed to report on the condition of the bridge across the Wey. They stated that for some years it had been so decayed as to be "unsafe for passengers, and that it was now ruinous...if the queen (Elizabeth I of England) should be at her house at Oatlands and the waters should rise, 'as often they do,' she could not pass to her forest to hunt."  It was accordingly ordered that a new bridge – a horse-bridge like the last – should be built, wood being used for its construction, as stonework would be too costly. The expense was to be born by the queen, as the land on either side belonged to her.  In this painting, many figures in 18C costume are depicted dancing around a painted wooden maypole. The painting is alleged to show the maypole set up on near the Ship Inn with the High Street in background.  Until the late 18C, Weybridge was as a very small village with a river crossing, seed milling to make flour & nurseries which would continue to provide the major source of home-grown income for the village until the 20C.

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.

Friday, May 18, 2018

17C Elegant figures playing Musical Instruments by a MAYPOLE by Pieter Gysels (1621-1691)

17C Pieter Gysels (1621-1691) Elegant figures playing Musical Instruments around a Maypole next to a Formal Garden


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 believe 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 believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

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.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

1697 Personification of Flora, Goddess of Flowers

Luca Giordano & Andrea Belvedere, Flora, Goddess of Flowers, Ca. 1697

"In ancient mythology, there was a god & goddess for everything; anything from the generic deity above all others to love to home life...One mythology painting is from the collection of the Museo Nacional del Prado in Spain. The Goddess Flora (La Diosa Flora), Luca Giordano & Andrea Belvedere, c. 1697... 

"Luca Giordano was considered a very popular Spanish painter within the Spanish court under Charles II. While, Andrea Belvedere, who lived in Spain from c. 1694 to c. 1700 was believed to be called from his home in Naples, Italy, by Giordano himself, to paint for the Spanish court. The work is supposedly one of several collaborations between Giordano (who painted the goddess Flora & the seated women) & Belvedere (who executed all the intricate flowers)... 


"The Goddess Flora...depicts the goddess sitting on a raised throne surrounded by 4 women, with whom she shares various, colorful flowers. These are taken from a massive, overflowing cornucopia in her left arm...


"All 5 women are dressed mostly in “classical”clothing, but have touches of contemporary pieces...The maiden to Flora’s right wears a simple string of pearls around her neck; & another maiden has a pair of pearl, teardrop-shaped earrings on. Compared to the muted tones of the clothing of the 5 women, the flowers are vibrantly painted & dominate the color scheme of the whole piece...The flowers easily show us the contrasts in the styles of Giordano & Belvedere.


"The 4 women, whose dresses are of completely different colors, together as a group may, in theory, represent the “Four Seasons”. The woman on the right of Flora wears a garland of flowers in her hair & another woman, to Flora’s left, gathers a rather large bundle of flowers. They easily could represent Spring & Summer. Yet another woman is in a rust-colored dress...would be Autumn. Finally, the last woman with no flowers could be Winter.


"Paintings like this were a favorite subject of art commissioned for royalty all over the world, as a passion for the story; as much as, the use of that myth to elevate themselves as divinely-appointed rulers..." 


Posted 13th February 2013 by Christopher M. Hammel
The "Unofficial" Blog of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

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.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

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


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 believe 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 believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.