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I have a burning need to know stuff and I love asking awkward questions.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Virgin in Prayer by Sassoferrato (1609-1685)

I first saw this painting quite by accident whilst wandering through the National Gallery in London. I think it was the vibrant use of colour that first attracted my attention and once I actually stood in front of it I found that I just couldn’t take my eyes off it.

The image above doesn’t really do this breathtaking work of art justice. Over the years I have bought various representations of this painting but none of lived up to the real thing. The painting, now 350 years old, doesn’t so much reflect light as generate its own light – it’s really quite something to behold. The colours of her garments actually glow. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I remember standing there like a fool, with my mouth open in wonder at the genius of the artist. How can such a thing be made, I thought to myself.

Some of you will probably be wondering about now if I have lost my mind. I am, after all, gushing over a piece of religious art - a representation of the Virgin Mary (and you already know what I think of that story). But if religious feeling and religious myth can produce truly stunning works of art like this one, I can almost (but not quite) forgive it for everything else.

I do love art and as with anything you love it’s hard to put things in a rank order. However, if I had to place this painting in a rank it would definitely be in my top 5 paintings. I honestly can’t think of any other that has had such a profound and immediate effect on me. If you get a chance to visit London, and you like your art, then go see it in the National Gallery. I assure you that you won’t be disappointed.

17 comments:

Dave said...

I would love to know what are the other 4 in your top five?

CyberKitten said...

[snigger] I just *knew* someone would ask me that....

As I'm fairly tired I can only give you one other painting that I know is definitely in my top 5 - so much so that it might actually be my favourite painting.

It's called 'Daybreak' painted by a modern American artist called Maxfield Parish in 1922. I saw it first on the inner sleave of an album cover many years ago (I'm guessing that you remember vinyl albums) and loved it ever since.

As to the other 3.... I'd have to think about it a bit....

craziequeen said...

This doesn't come as a surprise to someone who aah'd and ohh'd with you over that magical Raphael exhibition :-)

It's not so much admiring the art as religion, but admiring the art for art's sake.

And we waxed most lyrical over Raphael's Altar Paintings, even though neither of us are big altar people..... :-)

cq

Mr. Althouse said...

That's a beautiful painting. There is true magic at work there!

~Mike

CyberKitten said...

CQ said: This doesn't come as a surprise to someone who aah'd and ohh'd with you over that magical Raphael exhibition :-)

Indeed. I had stars in my eyes all the way home after that art fest... Art for arts sake.

mr Althouse said: There is true magic at work there!

It's even more magical up close and personal. I had a similar reaction when I saw Micaelangelo's 'David' for the first time in Florence. Breathtaking.

Sadie Lou said...

I love the light on her face and you're right, the robe with all it's folds and wrinkles is stunning.

CyberKitten said...

sadie lou said: I love the light on her face and you're right, the robe with all it's folds and wrinkles is stunning.

Stunning is the word. The artist didn't seem to be painting with oil. He seemed to be painting with light itself. I've never seen a painting actually *glow* before.

craziequeen said...

Art for Art's Sake:
A slogan meaning that the beauty of the fine arts is reason enough for pursuing them — that art does not have to serve purposes taken from politics, religion, economics, and so on. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Edgar Allan Poe, and Oscar Wilde argued for the doctrine of art for art's sake.

Ars Gratia Artis, the motto of the film company Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), is a Latin version of “art for art's sake.”

cq

CyberKitten said...

CQ said: the beauty of the fine arts is reason enough for pursuing them.

Never a truer word said.

Laura said...

Religion is the patron of some of the greatest art and architecture ever accomplished.

I'll put the National Gallery on my list if I end up in London this summer...

CyberKitten said...

laura said: I'll put the National Gallery on my list if I end up in London this summer...

It's well worth a visit... and if you're into portraits... the National Portrait Gallery is just next door.

RCA said...

Have to say being a fan of the impressionist school its Monet's 'Gare St Lazare' that gets me every time - favourite art gallery in the world is probably Musee D'Orsay in Paris. On the subject of Raphael though I went to the Pantheon in Rome about 5 years ago and was awed by some of his work in there (and indeed the building itself which is a proper'pagan' temple with an open roof that was converted into a Catholic church.

Dave said...

Craziequeen instructed me to tell you to have a look at my post on this subject, and I daren't disobey. Have a look and then have a go!

CyberKitten said...

dave said: Craziequeen instructed me to tell you to have a look at my post on this subject, and I daren't disobey. Have a look and then have a go!

Yup. Saw that.... [grin]

rca said: favourite art gallery in the world is probably Musee D'Orsay in Paris.

It's a wonderful place. I was torn between that and the Louvre. Beautiful converted railway station (featured in 'A Very Long Engagement). It's a must-see for anyone visiting Paris.

Dave said...

Just curious - is there a connection between you and Craziequeen?

CyberKitten said...

dave asked: Just curious - is there a connection between you and Craziequeen?

Yes.

craziequeen said...

total....like.........
psychic connection........
dude..

[grin]

cq