Masaccio's Madonna:
The Page Three Girl
The underpainting of many Renaissance paintings is green, which gobbles up the pink, so the face of Masacccio's Madonna has taken on the green hue of a ghost. She holds the tough little Messiah on her knee, while he reaches out to seize a bunch of purple grapes. She is sitting on a bishop's throne of marble, from behind which peeping perspective angels peer at us. There is no more maternal Madonna.
What is maternal? Practical, perhaps? You can see that she could get angry with this child, and you can imagine her boxing its ears. She is not one of Rapael's or Botticelli's Parisian models, more a Page Three Girl with a green face, who has to work hard at some other job. In spite of the mistreatment, her son could grow up a treat. Even though her husband Joseph is not his father and is not in the picture. Is this a one-parent family that contradicts all of the unattainable ideals?
--- From Chroma
Derek Jarman
©2010, University of Minnesota Press
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