Monday, January 4, 2010
This is a Caravaggio--as if you couldn't guess. It's called the Madonna of the Palafrenieri or Madonna with the Serpent, but the real subject of the painting is the naked Jesus. If you click on the image to enlarge it, I think you'll get a better idea of the sensuality of Caravaggio's Christ child. The boy's skin is as luscious as life, and you can just feel the snake squirming under the bare feet of mother and son. This painting was commissioned for St. Peter's but hung there only briefly. Supposedly the depiction of such a fleshly Jesus was considered disrespectful, though it has also been suggested that the problem was that Caravaggio made St. Anne (on the left) too ugly. I love this painting. It's sad to think that if it appeared today as a new work, the artist would probably be treated like Nan Goldin.