’s And Bellini’s Paintings Of The Madonna And Child Essay, Research Paper
The subject matter of Madonna and Child was a very popular one for artists of the sixteenth century. Raphael, and Giovanni Bellini both painted numerous versions of the Madonna and Child. While both of the artists viewed the subject as a religious and highly emotional expression, their portrayal of many other aspects differed greatly. While Raphael portrayed what seems to be a loving, warm relationship between mother and child, a lifelike Christ child, and serenity within his paintings, Bellini portrayed a relationship that seems distant relationship between mother and child, a deathlike image of the Christ child and a sense of depression and uneasiness within his works.
Differences between the views of the artists on the portrayal of Madonna and Child can clearly be seen through the artists’ use of color, backgrounds in which the figures are placed, the poses of the figures, and their relationships to one another. These differences can all be seen in many of the works by Bellini and Raphael, specifically, “The Small Cowper Madonna”, and “Maddona Del Granduca” by Raphael and “Greek Madonna” and “Madonna of the Meadow” by Bellini. The subject of Madonna and Child is one that is highly emotional. Raphael and Bellini portray the Virgin and Child in two very different emotional states. Raphael, in his paintings, “The Small Cowper Madonna” and “Madonna Del Granduca”, illustrates a very intense feeling of love between the Virgin and Child and a feeling of content with the love that the mother and child share. In both The Small Cowper Madonna and Madonna Del Granduca , the Virgin is looking at her son with an expression that seems very tranquil. She is almost smiling yet at the same time praying, in The Small Cowper Madonna . She seems to be totally engrossed with her child. At the same time, the Child seems totally comfortable with his mother. He looks out at the viewer with a visionary, yet amiable gaze, showing his carefree, comfortable state of mind, as any happy toddler would have. In both “The Small Cowper Madonna” and “Madonna Del Granduca”, the Virgin holds her child very close to her body and the Child holds onto his mother in return. The two figures seem totally at ease with one another.
Bellini’s depiction, on the other hand, is a very different one from Raphael’s. Bellini, in his “Madonna of the Meadows” and “Greek Madonna”, shows a mother who does not seem to be very blithe. In “Madonna of the Meadows”, the Virgin seems to be praying. The expression on her face seems to be one of discontent, perhaps even concern. Her eyes do not seem to be focused on her child. The painting portrays a sort of double image. Unequivocal is the poignant lyricism of the landscape, and its rarefied and intensely limpid presence. An indefinitely serene light pervades the sky and against the sky s deep blue transparency there are golden weightless trees and neat graceful buildings. The air is devoid of sounds or disturbance while in the background other attributes referring to her are added: the fortress on the hill, the doorway, the well, the clouds which could symbolize the humanity of Christ and divine mysteries, and the struggle between the pelican and the snake. The distance between the Virgin and Child is expressed even more strongly in the “Greek Madonna”. The Virgin has a despondent look on her face. She is looking in the direction of her child but almost seems to be looking through him. In both paintings, the Virgin does not hold her child close to her body as a mother would naturally do to her child, rather she is just close enough to his body that she could support it. In “Madonna of the Meadow”, the Child’s body lays on his mother’s skirt, while the Virgin has no contact with him at all; her hands do not support the Child and the Child does not grab onto his mother. In “The Greek Madonna”, though the Virgin does hold her child, she does not cradle him in a loving way, rather, she supports his body, though he does not touch her in any way. The relationship between the Virgin and Child depicted by Bellini in the two paintings portrays a peculiar and subtle tension that binds the Virgin and Child.
Aside from their different expressions of emotions in their works on Madonna and Child, Bellini and Raphael also differ in their depiction of the Christ-child. Raphael portrays an animated child. In Raphael’s “Small Cowper Madonna” and in his “Madonna Del Granduca”, the Christ-child is depicted as a chubby baby with rosy cheeks and wide eyes, the way most healthy children appear. In both paintings, the Child has turned his head, and has linked his arms around his mother, giving an image of movement in the child. His gesture is a very natural one; each body part looks comfortable and well supported. The vision portrayed can be comparable to any portrait of a child of his age. The depiction does not foreshadow any tragedy for the future. Bellini depicts the Christ-child in a very different way than Raphael. In “Madonna of the Meadow” and “Greek Madonna” the Child is portrayed in a most lethargic manner. In “Madonna of the Meadow”, the child lies in the virgin’s lap, rigid and motionless. His right arm holds his heart in a way that can be reminding of a heart attack victim grabbing onto his heart as he dies. The Child’s eyes are closed and the expression on his face is blank. He has very little color in his cheeks, as he lacks the same color over the rest of his body. His head tilted to one side looks almost as though it is falling. In “Greek Madonna”, the Child looks as though he is falling and only the arms of the Virgin support him. His facial expression is a troubled one. His arms hang limp, though he does grasp an apple in his right hand, and his legs do not seem to support him. His head, like in “Madonna of the Meadows” is falling to one side, as if he cannot support it. His body is thin and elongated, appearing longer than most children would.
Perhaps the distinction that could be made between Bellini’s and Raphael’s works is the level of passiveness that the Child is portraying. Bellini’s paintings of the Child foretell the tragic future for which the Christ-child will live to experience. Although both artists viewed the subject of Madonna and the Child as a highly emotional expression, they each portrayed their contrasting views in their paintings. Raphael s paintings portrayed a loving, warm relationship between mother and child while Bellini s work portrayed the distant relationship and a deathlike image of the Christ child.