Monday, December 24, 2012

MWA X: Lotto's Nativity

What better way to celebrate the holidays then with another beautiful Monthly Work of Art. This is The Nativity (image: NGA) by the Venetian Renaissance painter Lorenzo Lotto (ca. 1480-ca. 1557). This oil on panel work is dated to 1523. Lotto is seen by some art historians as a proto-Mannerist, and this is evident in the way that he contorts the bodies, especially that of the Christ child. The shimmering blue/pink of Mary's garments and her elongated body are other signs of early Mannerism at work. You'll notice, however, something strange in the picture, and I don't mean the naked flying babies at the top. In the upper left there's a crucifix. Its presence is clearly anachronistic (Jesus was just born in the picture), but it serves to foreshadow for the viewer his eventual death and the establishment of the Christian faith. My memories of growing up in the Catholic Church were that they always put more weight on his death and resurrection. Personally, I preferred the stories of his birth. So in that spirit I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.

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