Friday, January 6, 2017

Epiphany 2017

Happy Three Kings Day!

From the annual parade sponsored by Museo del Barrio in New York.

Happy Epiphany in an ever darkening world.  Today in a world coming apart along national, ethnic, sectarian, and racial lines we remember Christ's manifestation to the Gentiles.

There are a lot of great paintings of the Visit of the Magi from the Renaissance, but my favorite of them all is this painting by Rogier Van Der Weyden, the Columba Altarpiece from around 1455.
It was painted for the family chapel of Goddert von dem Wasservass, a burgomaster of the city of Cologne in the church of Saint Columba.  The painting stood on the altar of that chapel until about 1821.  Since 1827, The Alte Pinakothek in Munich housed the painting.

Here are my photos of it from 2014, an encore presentation.

My nomination for the most beautiful of all Flemish Madonnas.

The Flemish tradition of showing the Christ Child as a frail newborn probably began with Robert Campin, Rogier's teacher.  This one is the best of them all.  The hands and feet are wonderful.

The figure of the youngest of the Magi, a tousle haired young man with magnificent clothes.
Legend says that the young Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy was the model for this figure.

The star hiding behind the roof of the stable is a real stroke of imagination.

As was the custom of the day, Rogier locates the story not in 1st century Palestine, but in the here and now; here and now for Rogier was 15th century Flanders.  He gives us a glimpse of the Flemish countryside with a town in the background.  That might also explain the striking anachronism of the small crucifix hanging in the stable.  Also, Rogier inherited that kind of heavy-handed symbolism from his teacher, Robert Campin.

My vote for the most beautiful of all Renaissance Annunciate Virgins, certainly in Flanders, and maybe Italy too.

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