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Current time:0:00Total duration:3:27

Video transcript

Renea feat seein we're looking at a Raphael and this is the Madonna of the Goldfinch which is a really funny title this is a funny title st. John who we see here on the left is holding out a goldfinch the bird to the Christ child who stroked its head and the Goldfinch is a symbol of The Passion of Christ of Christ's suffering and so we have that idea that we often have of the foretelling of Christ's terrible future but at the same time this is a painting of two children and a mother and so it exists in several different planes because they're children doing childlike things one showing a pet to another one wanting to touch it the mother looking down protectively and even a kind of tenderness between the mother and son look at the way that Christ puts his foot on his mother's so there's that skin-to-skin moment of human contact there that's really lovely but to me Christ doesn't look like a child having fun he looks very much all-knowing I suppose if we were looking at painting from the 1300s Christ would look instead of looking like a baby he would look like a little man in order to indicate his sense of wisdom but here I think Raphael communicates that through the elegance of Christ's body look at the way he lifts his arm up strokes the Goldfinch tilts his head back he stands in this incredibly elegant contrapposto that no child would ever stand true I mean it's such a pose here and there's a beautiful foreshortening of his head of his face as he leans back but then it's a kind of energy and child likeness and that we see in John John seems so engaged look what I can show you yeah and yet it's the symbol that's really potent symbol of Christ's suffering what's so interesting is that unlike the 1300s as you mentioned before we don't have the Madonna on a throne here nature itself is the throne you know we have this verdant environment this beautiful atmospheric perspective and she sits on a rock that is divinities all around us by the time we get to to the late 15th century to the early 16th century in the high Renaissance nature itself has taken on the expression of God we don't need in a sense those kingly symbols look at how composed it is in a way that we don't even notice immediately we have a pyramid composition with Mary at the top and st. John and Christ on either side and that sense of real stability and balance that's also so much a part of the high Renaissance even as the figures are so engaged with each other and this rib dialogue that's taking place with them and there is also that sense that high Renaissance ends are right of balance of perfection of the eternal that interlocking of gestures and glances Mary looking down at John John looking at Christ Christ looking back at John all of them enclosed within the pyramid structure of Mary's body that unified composition that brings everything together and this this really lovely landscape I'm intrigued by the book Mary had been reading it she's kept her place and of course that reminds us of an earlier scene the Annunciation when Gabriel interrupts her as she's been piously reading the Bible but here she's been reading and now she's interrupted by her charges she's doing a little bit of babysitting