The Roots of Motherhood

The themes examined in these art pieces focuses heavily on the bond between mother and son. The exhibition gallery consists of paintings made during the Renaissance era (1300's - 1600's). Motherhood is represented by important figures in mythology Venus "the goddess of love," and her son Cupid,  "The god of desire". Venus and Cupid are typically nude, symbolizing purity and love. The paintings of Cupid and his mother incorporate two of the most renowned religions, Catholic and Christianity.

Another essential relationship of motherhood is exemplified in the relationship of The Virgin Mary with Jesus Christ. These paintings include a repeating pattern of formal elements that will be further discussed for each art piece in the gallery. 

"Amor," derived from the Latin dialect signifies "Love," which also points directly to Cupids purpose in life. Repeatedly, Cupid is seen pulling on his mother’s garments in search for attention. Cupid has obtained an arrow in his hand but has not yet developed far enough to achieve his bow, this suggests that he is still in a very early age and has not established his full character. The most renowned element in this picture is the colors. The dark background gives emphasis to Venus and Cupid and makes the other colors look brighter and more appealing to the eye.
This image represents the various ways Cupid cries out for attention. In this image he has taken honey from a honeycomb, which resulted in him being stung by a bee. Typically, Venus and Cupid are shown in front of nature with distant scenery as a background. This demonstrates the healthy relationship mother and son share. Visual inspirations rely heavily on color and contrast making Venus and Cupid stand out from the darkened background.
5 years down the line, Lucas Cranach re-painted Cupid and Venus with minimum changes. In Venus with Cupid stealing honey, Venus teaches Cupid the lesson that the pain caused by the bees can be closely related to the pain he inflicts on those who his arrows puncture. It shows how sweet things (honey/love) can bring pain and suffering to an individual. This painting’s elements is easily compared to the one Lucas created 5 years prior.
Venus and Cupid are demonstrating the importance of closeness and attachment. This clearly proves the significance that motherly love is ideal for the growth of a healthy relationship. Contrast in color is definite in this painting, which holds a black background to pronounce the colors of the skin, and emphasis in depth.
Images of the Virgin Mary were particularly important in this era, due to the fact that Christianity was becoming the most prominent religion. Breastfeeding signifies the importance of health, connection, and nurturing that the mother is dedicated to take on since she gave birth to the chosen one. In comparison to Venus and Cupid paintings, The Virgin suckling the Infant Christ, also uses similar techniques in the way color and contrast accentuates the act of Jesus Christ being cherished. Texture is the only differentiation of that seen in Cupid and Venus paintings, also, it brings life to the portrait.
The Holy Family shows the act of the Virgin Mary frolicking with her infant “Christ.” She is dangling a veil over Christ while he’s extending his arms to reach out for it. In the back stands Joseph who is slightly diluted in contrast, resembling how he is not a prominent role depicted in the painting. The dark background re-emphasizes the repeating elements throughout the gallery. The colors/textures of the bed and child holds elements that make the painting more realistic and shows the perception of depth.
Madonna with child separates itself from the rest of the images displayed in this gallery, although it still holds true to the connotations that this gallery puts forth. Madonna, commonly referred to the Virgin Mary is dressed in a ceremonial dress while holding Christ close to her in her arms. Color and contrast are vibrant in this painting; gold demonstrates the weight that this ceremony has on the Christian belief. Proportions are truly important to show the influence that the others have in this depiction by making Madonna and Christ stand out amongst the other individuals taking part in this observance.
In Madonna in the Meadow, contains an intriguing background that differs from the shared paintings of the Virgin Mary and Christ. This scene shows a special moment in Christ’s life while he plays in the meadow with St. John the Baptist. The elements of proportion greatly enhance the sense of depth by showing the family up-close and the scenery afar.
The Madonna and Child, represents the beauty of the Virgin Mary and shows her inner grace as her and Christ share a moment looking into each others eyes. Parmigianino uses gold to reinforce her beauty and elegance. Shadows are perfectly made to show depth, which ultimately makes the characters stand out. Texture is prominent in this painting due to the oil on panel, and makes Christ and the Virgin Mary more lifelike.
In the Portrait of Maria Salviati de' Medici with Giulia de' Medici the principles of motherhood can be found even without the biological mother being around. Still in mourning clothing this painting depicts how motherhood prevails even with a caretaker taking the position of the mother. Maria Salviati takes the child under her wing so that she does not need to suffer with the truth of life and pain. The painting incorporates elements of color and contrast by making the child and mother stand out from the background. Since the child takes on the more important role in this picture she is clearly more illuminated than the mother.
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This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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