December 24, 2003
A Happy Christmas to all my readers

I went looking for an appropriate Christmas Nativity scene with which to wish all of you the compliments of the season, and the picture I liked best from the many choices offered here was this one: Raphael's Sistine Madonna.


What got my attention was the extreme beauty of Madonna herself. She's standing like a supermodel, rather than sitting like a mumsy mum. But the most famous bit of this painting, which I swear I only noticed after I'd picked it as my favorite Mary plus Jesus painting, is right at the bottom, and features two winged child stars of a million posters and Christmas cards (scroll down!).

What's going on? Both the old gent on the left and the lady on the right appear to be aware that something may be up. The lady is looking downwards at the winged ones and the oldy is pointing at something also. Do they perhaps fear that our two grumpy little friends, perhaps because jealous about being upstaged by a mere baby for God's sake, are about to stage some kind of diversion? No doubt there is a learned explanation.

I seem to have extremely "popular" taste in paintings. Time and again, I choose the painting that everyone else likes too, but as often as not utterly unaware of its extreme popularity until after I've noticed it, and hence started to notice others noticing it also. I am to the world of paintings what those people are to classical music who say "Oooh I like that one", and it turns out to be Finlandia or Beethoven's Fifth or the Moonlight Sonata or Barber's Adagio. I'm not wrong and those are all great bits of music. I have good taste in paintings. It's just that I don't have very much.

Anyway, like I say: Happy Christmas.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 01:16 PM
Category: Painting