Local Heart, Global Soul

October 25, 2013

Michelangelo’s Madonna Of Bruges Sits As Still As Stone…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In this page of my on-line diary, that details our last summer’s adventures, we are visiting the Church of Our Lady, In Bruges, Belgium.  The reason I’ve bought our Singaporean friend “Velveteen” here is because this is one of the few places outside of Italy where it’s possible to see a marble sculpture by Michelangelo.

Entitled “The Madonna of Bruges” the statue depicts Mary with the infant Jesus. Wikipedia tells me:

“Michelangelo’s depiction of the Madonna and Child differs significantly from earlier representations of the same subject, which tended to feature a pious Virgin smiling down on an infant held in her arms.

Instead, Jesus stands upright, almost unsupported, only loosely restrained by Mary’s right hand, and appears to be about to step away from his mother and into the world.

Meanwhile, Mary does not cling to her son or even look at him, but gazes down and away, as if she knows already what is to be her son’s fate. It is believed the work was originally intended for an altar piece. If this is so, then it would have been displayed facing slightly to the right and looking down.

Madonna and Child shares certain similarities with Michelangelo’s Pietà, which was completed shortly before, mainly, the chiaroscuro pattern and the movement of the drapery. The long, oval face of Mary is also reminiscent of the Pietà.

The work is also notable in that it was the only sculpture by Michelangelo to leave Italy during his lifetime. It was bought by Giovanni and Alessandro Moscheroni (Mouscron), from a family of wealthy cloth merchants in Bruges, then one of the leading commercial cities in Europe.

The sculpture was sold for 4,000 florin and was removed twice from Belgium after its initial arrival. The first was in 1794, after French Revolutionaries had conquered the Austrian Netherlands; the citizens of Bruges were ordered to ship it and several other valuable works of art to Paris. It was returned after Napoleon’s defeat. The second removal was in 1944 with the retreat of German soldiers, who smuggled the sculpture to Germany enveloped in mattresses in a Red Cross lorry.[1] It was found two years later and again returned. It now sits in the Church of Our Lady in Bruges, Belgium. After the attack on Michelangelo’s Pietà in 1972 the sculpture was placed behind bulletproof glass, and the public can only view it from 15 feet away.”

The batteries on my DSLR  camera died soon after we entered the church so I had to use my little point-and-shoot so it was very handy that Velveteen’s set of photographs came out far better and I could use them too.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph ©Velveteen) used with permission

(photograph ©Velveteen) used with permission

(photograph ©Velveteen) used with permission

(photograph ©Velveteen) used with permission

(photograph ©Velveteen) used with permission

(photograph ©Velveteen) used with permission

(photograph ©Velveteen) used with permission

(photograph ©Velveteen) used with permission


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