Friday, September 19, 2014

Madonna and Child (Marianne Stokes)

Madonna and Child
Marianne Stokes (1855-1927)

In the foreground, we see the Blessed Virgin, seated, clad in a simple yet finely woven white linen tunic. The horizontal hem of the modest neckline is faintly decorated with tiny black stitches. A royal blue mantle, equally fine, drapes her shoulders. Her long, gracile neck is exposed to us, fading seamlessly at the nape into her shiny, carefully combed auburn hair, which falls behind her, out of sight. Her delicately featured face is nearly in profile, her gentle gaze cast toward the ground. Her hazel eyes seem unfocused, as though she is lost in thought. Her ruby lips contrast with her flawless alabaster skin, indicating the fullness of her youth. The solid gold halo surrounding her head is interrupted only by that of the sleeping infant Christ she holds in her hands. His eyes closed, His hand placed under His cheek, He rests His head upon the Blessed Virgin's shoulder.

In the immediate background, we see a low white garden wall and part of a stone column. Beside the column and immediately behind the Blessed Virgin hangs a flat curtain of olive green cloth, through which can be seen part of the landscape. The curtain hangs undisturbed, indicating calm weather. To the left of the pair, we see a single stem bearing seven Easter lilies, five in full bloom, two yet to open. Just behind the lilies, perched upon the retaining wall, is a pale red but shiny apple.

In the distant background, we see a smattering of tall, thin cypress trees, receding into the distance as we approach a large body of water, probably the Sea of Galilee. On the edge of the sea we see the faint impression of a city - presumably Capernaum - with the walls of its buildings reflecting the light of the low-lying sun in warm, earthen tones. Behind the city's skyline stand pale blue mountains which fade into the clear afternoon sky.

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