Madonna - Austin Sungenis

A tour of the many representations of Mary and Jesus, icons of the Catholic church. "Madonna" literally means "my lady" and is used to describe paintings in which Mary is the central theme. This gallery explains the different forms and spaces used to depict Mary (with and without baby Jesus).

The Madonna of Humility is a popular depiction of Mary sitting on a cushion on the ground with the baby Jesus in her lap. This form of Mary, originated by Simone Martini, depicts Jesus holding an apple in his mouth which symbolizes original sin. Even though Mary is seen sitting on the ground, her halo represents her regal status. The winding rivers and buildings in the background give the painting vast depth and space
The adoring Madonna is another form of Mary showing her reverence to the Christ Child. Again, we see a halo on both baby Jesus and Mary to symbolize their divinity. This particular painting by Botticini uses vast depth perception in the background as seen by the mountains and plains behind Jesus and Mary
The Madonna and Child Enthroned is one of the many forms used to depict Mary and Jesus in the Medieval and High Renaissance time periods. Mary is depicted sitting on a throne with Jesus on her lap while being surrounded by angels. The Madonna Enthroned was a very popular way to represent Mary in the 14th and 15th centuries. The background arch gives the painting an almost 3D effect by lengthening the depth perception of the space where Mary and Jesus are seated
The Madonna in the Meadow, painted by the young Raphael, shows a seated Mary with baby Jesus and his cousin, John the baptist. The tuscan background of the painting gives the illusion of depth while the subjects remain the center focus of the painting. This painting uses a triangular shape to depict Mary and the two children.
The Alba Madonna, another painting by Raphael, shows Mary with baby Jesus and John the Baptist. The cross, being a more important aspect of the painting, is shown being acknowledged by everyone to show that they are aware of Jesus' fate. Mary is shown wearing robes from ancient Rome and is in a stance resembling classical sculptures.
The Virgin Hodegetria is a half length painting of Mary and the baby Jesus. The painting shows Mary's hand making a gesture to Jesus to show her acknowledgment of his divinity. The shallow space depicts Mary and Jesus standing in front of a plain gold background.
The Sistine Madonna is an oil painting showing Mary holding the baby Jesus with Saint Sixtus and Saint Barbara on either side of her. This form of Mary holding Jesus embellishes their divine nature by placing clouds and angels at their feet. The backdrop of the painting uses light colors to depict an aura of light emminating behind Mary to further embellish her regal status
The Nursing Madonna is another form of Mary that shows her breast feeding the baby Jesus. This half length picture of Mary and Jesus suggests that Mary is sitting while nursing the baby Jesus. There is much significance behind the nursing of baby Jesus since Mary's milk is considered to be as important as The Blood of Christ.
The only painting in which Mary is alone, Madonna in Prayer, shows just that: Mary reflecting in prayer. As a result of the counter-reformation, artists emphasized this form of Mary and her devotional nature to show the importance of being close to Christ through her.
The Holy Family is another sub genre of Madonna paintings that show Mary, baby Jesus, and Joseph all in one room together. This particular painting shows a more human and playful side to Jesus and Mary as Mary is shown lovingly looking down on Jesus and playing with him. The sequence of Jesus laying down, Mary standing next to him and Joseph standing behind her shows how depth can be depicted even within a small room.
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