Medieval Art at St. Agnes Convent – Prague

There really are some lovely pieces here. All religious, but often with a charm and brightness that keeps them from being dreary.

Below is a lovely Madonna. The brilliant blue is pigment made from lapis lazuli. Lapis doesn’t fade, unlike some other materials, so it was used for paintings like this. But it ws as expensive as gold. The Catholic church pretty much bought it all, though, so it was available for these paintings. The gold is real, but painted on a darker burnt umber sort of background, which gives it some depth. There’s no artists’s signature. At the time this painting was done, individual artists weren’t identified. Several craftspeople generally worked on these, each doing the thing they were learning, or what they did best.

Another Madonna, different style. Very idealized, and not really quite accurate–the draping of the cloth isn’t really correct, the body of Jesus looks more like a small adult than a child, that sort of thing. As time went by, these details progressed steadily, reaching fruition in the Renaissance.

A wooden sculpture, still fresh after all these years.

A nursing Jesus. Each of the Madonnas in the museum was created in a certain style, with certain symbols that were common to each style. I don’t pretend to know what those are, I simply enjoy the charm of the pieces.

I think this is my favorite Madonna–real expression on her face, and there is such lovely movement in her body and the drapery.

Our guide pointed out that in this painting, finally, each character has its own face, recognizable differences. The painters are getting better, and it was around this time that individual painters began to be recognized.

Religious art is not really my favorite, the strictures placed upon the artists were pretty restrictive. But the Church did allow artists to practice their craft, and preserved the art for subsequent generations.


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