120 – The Colour of Virtue

Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Maestà, c. 1335. Museo di Arte Sacra, Massa Marittima. I’m giving a talk for ARTscapades on Wednesday afternoon (at 2pm) entitled Good and Bad Government, which would be fine, apart from the fact that it has a subtitle The Lorenzetti Brothers in Siena. What was I thinking? I will have plenty of timeContinue reading “120 – The Colour of Virtue”

An Advent Calendar – 20

‘Joseph’ – Oh, Joseph! Poor Joseph! Always off to one side, half in the shadows, but with so much responsibility. Of course, the bible says next to nothing about him – apart from the fact that he was of the house of David, and was thought to be Jesus’s father. So almost everything we knowContinue reading “An Advent Calendar – 20”

An Advent Calendar – 13

‘Shepherds’ – This is the first of two days of Shepherds. Today I’m not interested in the two in the foreground – well, the foreground of this detail, anyway, they are quite a way back in the painting. Leaning over the wooden fence, we can tell they are shepherds because they are poorly dressed, withContinue reading “An Advent Calendar – 13”

An Advent Calendar – 12

‘Herod’s Men?’ – We’re quite a long way away here, looking off into the distance where the perspective makes things appear far smaller. Well, the linear perspective does. The aerial, or atmospheric, perspective makes things appear paler. The dust and mist in the air – and the air itself – knocks the light out ofContinue reading “An Advent Calendar – 12”

An Advent Calendar – 10

‘The Ass’ – Surely, I can hear you saying, surely there is biblical authority for the ass in a painting of Christ’s birth? It’s always there! How else would they have got to Bethlehem when, ‘there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed’ (Luke 2:10)? Well, it doesn’tContinue reading “An Advent Calendar – 10”

An Advent Calendar – 3

Ruins Rest assured, ruins are not mentioned in any biblical account of Christmas – but nevertheless, they are a common feature in paintings. I’ve written about them recently, as it happens, long after Christmas, when Jesus, Mary and Joseph had already returned from their flight into Egypt, and were settling down to what could haveContinue reading “An Advent Calendar – 3”