While at the Art Institute of Chicago, I was jarred, and a bit delighted, to see this macabre thing on the wall facing Hopper’s Nighthawks:
Ivan Albright was commissioned to paint this for MGM’s production of Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (released 1945). Apparently, he painted it over the production period in order to reflect the lead character’s changes.
A closer look:
It’s by no means an appealing painting, but I do like that it’s seen as more than a “mere” movie prop–in fact, it has a long history of exhibitions (including stints in Italy and Germany) as representative of American art. As Albright’s Dorian Gray signifies two mediums–painting and film–it certainly fulfills that role.
Seen in Amsterdam: I enjoy this work deeply. Mary, engrossed in her book, ignores the laughing, squirming baby who seems to all but scream “pay attention to me, mama!”
This terracotta Virgin and Child (c. 1500 -1525) was formerly attributed to the Master of the Unruly Children (what a wonderful title); it’s now attributed to Giovanni Francesco Rustici.
From the Rijksmuseum website:
The nude infant Jesus playfully draws his mother’s attention by pulling her bodice open. Mary’s bare breast [behind the book] refers to her role as ‘Virgo lactans’, the suckling virgin. The role of her divine motherhood became popular through Saint Bernard of Clairvaux’s wondrous vision in which he received a drop of milk from the Virgin’s breast.
In Florence, you can easily sate your appetite for art and beauty simply walking the streets–the public art and the architecture are wondrous. But are you really, truly going to Florence and not see the Uffizi? The Accademia? Santa Croce? Ad inf.? To be sure, the cost of entry to these, and other, places can add up–unless you have a Firenze Card. The card gives you access to 72 museums in 72 hours for 72 Euros (about $76 as of writing). The card’s biggest benefit? No queuing or reservations–and that priority access itself is worth the price of the card. To be honest, I generally avoid buying visitor cards like this as it makes me feel restricted and rushed. My dad actually talked me into getting the card on my last visit, and I certainly do not regret it. So, if you’re heading for Florence in the near future, and if you feel that the public displays and the building facades don’t quite quench your desire, I absolutely recommend the Firenze Card.
Here’s my traveling companion, by the way, measuring up my own card.
Note: My endorsement is totally voluntary and it’s intended as advice only.