Friday, 6 January 2012


A little Wordle – remember Wordle? – for Epiphany...

If you don't know Wordle - check it out!

For a more spiritual celebration of the day, here's 'The Adoration of the Magi' painted in 1542 by Jacopo Bassano and now hanging in the National Gallery of Scotland...

I do love the fact that even when painting a sacred subject these Italians can't resist adding a good bottom – or, in this case (if you count man and horse), two bottoms!


Suzanne said...

I do love your typo: painting a scared subject!

Brian Sibley said...

Ooops! I was tempted to leave it as 'scared' but decided I'd better correct it!

Nyx said...

It might just me being unnecessary crude, but I do love the fact that while all of this is going on (as you had pointed out some time earlier) Joseph is cleaning the muck (and he doesn't look all that pleased about it).
Memling actually did one better. On his crucifixion altar there are two horses' backsides and one of the guards has an adorable monkey riding behind him (were I a smarter person I would know what the symbolic significance of a monkey is, since I don't I just giggle)
Here it is!

Brian Sibley said...

Nyx – Thanks for that. I think, in the context of the crucifixion, the monkey would have symbolised mischief and cunning.

You know what Auden wrote in his poem 'Musee des Beaux Arts':

"About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree..."

Anonymous said...

I loved this painting when I first saw it in person. It's a bit hard to tell since it's still a bit too small, but the infant Jesus in this painting really looks as though he's scrutinising the value of each of the gifts and wondering if he can claim some sort of tax rebate on them.

Upstairs in the National Gallery of Scotland is possibly an even better 'wrong' late medieval painting of the virgin and the infant, where Jesus has been given a rather adult long face, combed back wavy dark hair and a rather angular weird looking semi-translucent gown, so that Jesus actually looks surprisingly like the largely forgotten 1970s conservative minister Sir Keith Joseph in a pac-a-mac.

- matthew davis