Saturday, December 17, 2016

Discover what 3 classic paintings secretly say about the meaning of Christmas

By William Newton
“The Annunciation” by the Flemish painter Jan Van Eyck (c. 1390-1441)
Countless works of art depict the birth of Jesus. When looking at this art, it’s easy to focus on the representations of people and settings that we can overlook the appearance of text in these images. So let’s consider three works by three Old Master painters that depict three important moments in the story of Christ’s birth, and just so happen to feature some text as well. “The Annunciation” by the Flemish painter Jan Van Eyck (c. 1390-1441), which was painted sometime between 1434-36. If you look closely, coming out of the mouth of Gabriel, almost like a medieval cartoon bubble, we can see tiny gold letters that read, “Ave gratia plena,” Latin for “Hail, full of grace.” These are just a few examples of how text can play an important role in art. [link]

The Adoration of the Shepherds” by Philippe de Champaigne (1602-1674), which stands well over eight feet tall. The presence of the text in this painting, then, not only reminds us of what is going on in this scene, but also creates an additional reason for happiness, as the celestial participants celebrate the Nativity.
Finally, let’s take a look at the “Adoration of the Magi” by Gentile da Fabriano (c. 1370-1427). If you look closely at the figures of Mary and Joseph, you‘ll notice what appears to be text inside of their respective haloes.