Captivating Art

We subscribe to a magazine called ITN – International Travel Network.  The articles, reviews and critques are by ordinary folks who travel.  Sometimes the editors request participation.  One recent request was this:  “In the course of your travels, what work of art took you by surprise in that it affected you deeply in some way?” 

I immediately thought of a painting I’d seen on our last trip to Germany.  I sent in a description.  After a few weeks, an editor e-mailed and asked me to add my personal feelings about the painting.  It was difficult to express, which was why I had not included my feelings in the first submission.  I thought about it for a few days and finally replied to the editor.  Here is what was printed in the August 2011 issue of ITN:

After taking a class in German paintings of the era 1350-1530, I looked for Stefan Lochner’s “Madonna of the Roser Bower” in the Wallraf-Richartz Museum when I visited Cologne in September 2009. 

It is a small picture, for private meditation.  A sweet-faced Virgin Mary holds the baby Jesus.  Mary and the baby are surrounded by a rose arbor, and angels offer them roses and apples.  The roses likely allude to love and to Mary as a “rose without thorns.”

A quartet of angels at Mary’s feet is playing nusical instruments.  In the top corners, two angels pull the curtains back from the surrounding golden sky, temporarily revealing the vision below.  God the Father looks over the garden, and the Holy Spriit hovers below Him.

When I look at this painting, I simply stop, and a feeling of deep peacefulness comes over me.  I want to enter the garden to absorb Mary’s serenity and innocence.  I want to abandon my cynicism and believe that salvation is possible.

 

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