Museums and Art

"Stuppach Madonna", Matthias Grunewald - description of the painting

Stuppach Madonna - Matthias Grunewald. 150 x 186 cm

Despite the fact that only 10 paintings and 25 drawings survived from the artist’s entire creative heritage, we can safely say that he was one of the most talented and richly gifted masters of his time.

The Stuppach Madonna is a work that has been attributed for many centuries to the authorship of another brilliant master, Peter Paul Rubens. This alone speaks of the high skill of Grunewald. The picture is striking in its thorough elaboration and abundance of details, so it needs to be considered for a long time and carefully.

The central image is the Mother of God with the baby Christ on her knees. Despite the traditional character of the image, it is so different from the canonical types that it is immediately remembered forever. Firstly, there is no sorrow in the picture. The baby laughs, playing with his mother, which is completely unusual for this type of image. Christ is usually strict and even harsh on them, as an adult, and his mother seems to foresee the hard fate of his son. Here, the opposite is true - the Mother of God looks with tenderness at her baby, who plays with an object in her hand.

By the general impression, composition, color and features of the picture, it seems to be written by one of the masters of the Italian Renaissance, and not by a German. In the canvas you can find many parallels with the works of Italians, for example, Madonna’s face and hair resemble Venus Sandro Botticelli, and the landscape in the background is a characteristic feature for many portraits of that period, in particular, the works of Leonardo da Vinci.

The golden-haired Virgin Mary and curly blond Jesus are in the compositional center of the canvas. Their skin is so dazzlingly white that it simply shines against the backdrop of a colorful landscape and the rich, lush robes of the Madonna.

In the foreground are many different objects, including a golden-colored vase with a pen full of fresh flowers. Among them are roses and two large branches of white lilies - a symbol of the purity and innocence of the Mother of God.

The background is a lot of architectural and landscape details. The church, towering behind the tree, under which the Madonna sits, is a cathedral, for which this canvas was written to order. The background is the urban landscape, with typical half-timbered houses typical of the late Middle Ages and an abundance of various services and facilities. Even though the picture is quite large, it fit incredibly many different elements and details. The glowing halo above Mary's head with Jesus is impressive, framed by a rainbow. And if you peer into the sky, you can see that God the Father and his hosts of angels are watching the idyllic picture.

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