Friday, July 14, 2017

Madonna in the Garden - With Roses attr to Stephano da Verona 1379-1438

Illustrated manuscripts and early depictions of Biblical gardens give us a glimpse of gardens familiar & imagined during those periods. Many images of medieval gardens are allegorical or metaphorical, rather than realistic representations of specific medieval gardens. The Virgin Mary begins to appear in both contrived, formal gardens & in more natural cultural landscape images in the 1300s. 
Stephano da Verona (1379-1438) The Virgin and Child with Angels, c 1430

Here the Virgins sit within enclosed gardens lined with roses, suggesting metaphorical associations with the paradise bower of the Song of Songs. The rose is a symbol that has a rich and ancient history. In the Christian religion, like the cross, it can have paradoxical meanings. It is at once a symbol of purity and a symbol of passion, heavenly perfection and earthly passion; virginity and fertility; death and life. In Catholic symbolism, the red rose is a symbol of Martyrdom, while the white rose is a symbol of purity since the earliest years of the Church.  The Virgin Mary is called a 'rose without thorns,' because she was exempt from Original Sin. In Renaissance art, a garland of roses is often an allusion to the Rosary of the Virgin. 

The Glastonbury or Christmas Rose is both the symbol for the Mother of God and for the Infant King, who came to earth to be crowned with thorns as part of His Death whereby He renders atonement to God the Father for the sins of mankind. The Glastonbury or Christmas Rose is an exquisite flower but it also bears the sharpest of thorns, like those that were plaited into Jesus's Passion crown. This special Rose, reportedly blooms just before dawn on January 6, the Feast of Epiphany. 
Stephano da Verona (1379-1438) Madonna of the Rosary 1409