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Current time:0:00Total duration:3:14

Painting in central Italy

Video transcript

we're in the National Gallery in Washington looking at a lovely little frosty Phillippi of the Madonna and Child from about 1440 I suppose this just is so lovely to me the beautiful soft curves of the headdress that she's wearing framing her face there's a kind of pathos in her face the Madonna's so often shown beautiful but trouble but here her sense of fear and sadness comes across in such an incredibly tender and intimate way out the way our hand holds him back attentively yeah this is that terrible poignant moment and looks out at us too in a sort of way of saying we all know what's gonna happen we all know what this means but look at the price that I pay for this as a mother I was scorned the other thing that I see with this is so obviously the early Renaissance the lessons of the 15th century Mary becoming so much more human in the ways that we just described Christ looking so much more like a baby than he did 100 years sorry I had chubby not looking like a small man right but the artist nearly P being comfortable with the notion that here we have God this divine figure in the body of a child now he's looking down and slightly to his right which suggests the original placement of his painting and instead of that flat gold background that we would have had a hundred years earlier Libby's created this little niche for Mary to occupy so we have some sensory ates around her very classical looking and then that shadow that her body casts to the right yes so that we have a sense of real natural light coming from the left casting a shadow a sense of her convincing three dimensionality here she's not a flat ethereal figure anymore it's really interesting she has that sense of physicality and this is such an expression of 15th century in the classical architecture but also you're absolutely right in a way in which the shadow actually follows the complex contours of that architecture yeah the lesson of masaccio but on the other hand there's a kind of softness and lyrical quality to lippy that isn't in Masaccio so that this beautiful little curves around her face and down my earnestness of that veil is just good see how Olivia's Botticelli's teacher this lovely gold foreshortened halo although now that gold is disappearing and the halo is disappearing it's just sort of speckled with gold in fact all the color is almost gem like the kind of gentle radiance I love that he's on this little ledge like a window ledge sometimes that's been read as a reference to the eventual entombment but she holds him aloft from that - she protects him from it with a kind of pillow hard to remember when you're looking at a painting in the museum that it's probably been damaged or suffered some conservation efforts that may have not been as good as we might hope but I think almost 600 years old yeah and it gorgeous still is