Are you familiar with this painting? It is entitled Madonna of the Rabbit.
Isn’t it beautiful. Paige recently found this picture on The Louvre’s website.
At first she liked it for the beauty of it and the rabbit in it. Then she started researching and learning about the symbolism in the picture. Here are some of the things she learned and passed along to me. Now I enjoy the painting so much more.
The basket has two types of fruit in it ~ apple and grapes. The apple represents the original sin; the grapes represent Jesus’ blood shed for us.
During the time of this painting it was believed that the female rabbit could reproduce without a male rabbit’s contribution. So it was a virgin rabbit and symbolized the Virgin Mary and the fact that it is white symbolized purity.
The painting is set in the Venetian countryside, the part of Italy where the artist Titian is from.
The Virgin is dressed in red and blue, the colors have come to signify the Virgin.
The other woman is a servant of sorts. She is kneeling in a servants posture but is dressed as a married woman from that era. The hint of marriage is intentional because the woman is actually Saint Catherine of Alexandria. During her life she had a vision of being married to the infant Jesus. The thing she is kneeling on is meant to be a wheel on which Saint Catherine was to be executed. She had been attempting to show an Emperor of Rome that persecuting Christians was wrong. Everyone who was sent to her in the prison to persuade her to change her mind (including the Empress) was converted to Christianity. The Emperor was furious and demanded she be put to death on the wheel however, when she touched it, it broke into pieces. She was later beheaded and has sometimes been called the Great Martyr Saint Catherine.
The wild strawberries in the bottom corner signify paradise.
The shepherd in the background is in sharp contrast with the main figures. He is supposed to represent the age of pagan gods that Christianity replaced.
Jesus is being held in a white linen. Sacred items are always to be held in this manner.
This painting is a sacra conversazione, or holy conversation. This type of painting portrayed the virgin with a saint. The Madonna is always in the center to signify her as an intercessor before God.
Some may not see this as a painting of the Virgin and Child, but in the time period in Italy it always brought to mind the Virgin when a woman was portrayed with a child.
So there you have it. A little Art Appreciation courtesy of Paige. Hope you enjoyed it and we didn’t bore you. We would love to see the original of this painting one day.