Madonna Of The Grapes

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The Blanton Museum of Art recently acquired a new, ivory sculpture to its permanent collection. A gift from Kurt Dolnier and Alessandra Manning-Dolnier, the petite sculpture, Madonna of the Grapes, is just four and a half inches tall on its own and seven inches when including its pedestal. The sculpture was named for the grapes that are held in the Virgin’s hands. Aside from the medium and subject matter, there is few information on this work. This essay compiles a broad set of information consisting of iconography, date and composition, place of origin, and artists related to this work.

Examining the iconography in this sculpture, there are two details to note. The first is the grapes in the Virgin’s hand. The grapes represent …show more content…

Her robes sweep over her to accent the child’s struggle to free himself from his mother, and in contrast only her determined maternal grasp prevents him from stepping down and away from her. Yet another similarity is the Madonna’s sad yet knowing expression of the fate of her child. Michelangelo’s sculpture was created in the early 16th century by commission in the late 15th century by a Flemish merchant by the name of Mouscron. So, there is the possibility of the work dating to this time period or later. However, the ivory statues of the 16th century were more similar to those of the 15th century than the Blanton sculpture. Moving on to the 17th century, while there are not any sculptures with the same composition aside from the Bruges Madonna, the style of the ivory sculptures during this century are the most similar to that of the Madonna of the Grapes. The rendering of the drapery is much more natural along with the plumpness of the infant and the expression of the Madonna. For example, the drapery in the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception (Fig. 16), completed by an Anonymous artist in the late 17th century, falls naturally over the Virgin’s head and down her body, and her facial expression reflects the same serenity seen the Madonna of the Grapes. Another example is a Child awakening (Fig. 19), done by an unknown Netherlandish sculptor in the mid-17th …show more content…

Although it is not unprecedented to assume that the work is Italian because it drew from influences of Michelangelo, there are not any comparable Italian sculptures in terms of style from the 17th century. In addition, the Bruges Madonna was given to the Church of Notre-Dame in Bruges and “with the exception of its confiscation in the wars, the Madonna remained [there].” There are no known print reproductions of the Bruges Madonna that could have been circulating, so it is likely that a the artist who created the Blanton sculpture was a Flemish artist or an artist who came to Flanders and saw the Bruges Madonna in person and was influenced by it. While “ivory carving became extremely popular throughout the whole of the seventeenth and succeeding centuries,” it was especially in Flanders and Germany as productions in Italy declined. It is difficult to distinguish Flemish and German carvers, but comparing the two styles, there are two noticeable differences. For instance, German sculptors produced “extremely complicated baroque or rococo ornament,” (Figs. 17 & 18) which varies from the more muted and subdued details of Flemish carvers. German sculptors were influenced by Italian Classicism, while many northern artists, such as those in Flanders, adhered more to realistic detail within more classical and balanced forms (Fig. 16). For this reason, it is

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that the blanton museum of art recently acquired a new, ivory sculpture to its permanent collection.
  • Analyzes the iconography in the madonna's serene, yet melancholic expression, and the serpent just under the infant’s foot.
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