Monday, November 1

Botticelli: Madonna with Child and Madonna of the Book

Right: Madonna of the Book: ca 1483

The Madonna del Libro is a design that is extremely gentle and beautiful; it is a small vertical format panel painting. Mary and the Child are sitting in a corner of the room in front of the window, and her hand is resting on an open book. Some words are visible, showing that this is a Book of Hours, the Home beatae Mariae. As a symbol of his future Passion, the Christ Child is holding the three nails of the Cross and the crown of thorns.
Botticelli created the additions to the scene with a great deal of loving detail, and the ensemble of boxes and a lavish fruit bowl is very much like a still-life. The parchment pages of the book, the materials and the transparent veils have an incredibly tangible quality to them. Another refinement of Botticelli's painting is the gold filigree with which he decorated the robes and objects. The use of expensive gold paint was a result of a contractual agreement made with the clients, which laid down the price of the painting.

Left: Madonna and Child, 1478

There is a strict symmetrical structure to the composition with its life- size figures, and the finely toned down colors are very charming.
Surrounded by eight wingless angels, Mary is breastfeeding her Child. There is direct eye contact with the observer, involving him in the intimate scene. The angels are holding lilies, the sign of Mary's purity, and are engaged in antiphonal singing: while some of them are calmly waiting to start, the others are singing and reverently looking at a hymn book.

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