Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Madonna in the Garden - Standing in a Flowery Mead Attr to Master of Flémalle or Robert Campin (1375-1444)

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. 
Attributed to Master of Flémalle or Robert Campin (1375-1444)  Virgin and Child  She stands on a bed of wildflowers. The spot is sealed off from the remainder of the landscape by a architectural or textile image instead of the more traditional fence or hedge of the hortus conclusus.

A Mead is a medieval garden designed to imitate a small meadow or sometimes a larger, natural meadow. A Flowery Mead is a medieval term for a lawn rich in wild flowers. A flowery mead is often one of the essential components of a medieval garden. The flowery mead depicted is seldom within a distinct, geometric, larger garden. Albertus Magnus (c 1200-1280), a German Dominican friar & a Catholic bishop, was a great admirer of lawns & flowery meads "For the sight is in now way so pleasantly refreshed as by fine and close grass kept short." Most writers recommend digging out the original 'waste' plants, killing the seeds in the soil by flooding with boiling water, then laying out the lawn with curves laid in and pounded well. Another writer recommended mowing them 2x a year; lawn mowing would have been done with scythes or primitive shears.