Throughout all his career, Rafael had been excellenting in painting women. A major part of his pictures have been given the title “Madonna”, 29 of these “Madonna” titled pictures are known to be belonged to Rafael himself for sure(while others have been produced in his workshop but it’s hard to confirm they were his). When observing part of his pictures, many of the women can be seen as “religious icons”, as they have become to be known as objects with mystical powers. One of the changes I appreciate in Rafael’s work, is the conceptual change Rafael has lead about the image of the “Saint Madonna”. The “Madonna Image” had been changed from a woman covered with sanctity, to a more modern image. An image in which the Madonna is a real woman, young and modest, lacking all arrogance.
During the time, Rafael’s paintings have been through evolution. Baby Jesus lost his cloths, changed his side from “side”to “front”. I suspect that it is shown in order to emphasize Jesus was uncircumcised (in contrast to the New Testament. Apart from this religious purpose, presenting the genitals, are catching the viewer’s attention.
It seems that it reached a point that artists started creating pictures which included “hidden from view” genitals, in order to catch the precious attention. Sounds imaginary? Well. . .
Madonna As Jesus’ Mother
Madonna represents Jesus’ mother, by portraying the image of her as Rafael comprehended. But the way Rafael comprehended Madonna was not static. We may not know what influenced the change in the way Rafael comprehended Madonna, but this change took Madonna from a passive and almost inanimate character to taking an active rule.
The actual figure of Jesus’ mother is not very much known to archeologists. Jesus did not write a single word, also his close company (which consisted mostly of illiterate people). The stories about Jesus’ family have developed largely, even larger than the myth covering the story of Jesus himself. Comparing the stories about his family indicates that much of the information is not true. The image of Jesus’ mother had the perfect conditions to evolve.
The Public’s World View Reflects And Changes Rafael’s Art
The image of the Madonna, as portrayed in Rafael’s pictures, has been threw some changes. Rafael. Being not only a painter but an artist and theoretician, Rafael changed the “Madonna” in his pictures drastically throughout the years.
If we are to observe the first pictures which belonged to this subject, we may describe the “Madonna” as inert woman, almost not functioning. Her “job” in the picture, is just… to be. Nothing more than being. In a great contrast, when observing the latter pictures, the Madonna is a dominant figure, which has a major rule in restraining Yohanan (John). The Madonna figure receives is presented with much more “human” traits. A figure with opinion, a figure who does not accept John.
Well… What’s the reason for that change?
At first, pictures of Madonna were artistic figures only. While the time passed – they became mystical icons. Figures which were comprehended as having mystical powers. In order to make it a figure for every house, that before going to the kitchen in the morning, people will go praying Maria, the Madonna had to fit more tangible rule – the human rule.
By the way, this was not a time which the mystical icons were received without criticism. Quite the opposite – this was the beginning of a time in which people started to question that kind of rituals.
So How Does It Effect The Pictures?
The number of characters in the pictures is growing, and the relations between the characters is completely different. At first, the characters are “fitting” to each other, but as the picture proceeds, the relations are getting complicated. There are conflicts between characters. The most interesting conflict is the one between Jesus and his mother. The first “perfect mother-child relationship” is transformed into a complex one. Jesus is trying to escape his mother, to achieve his own ambitions. You may ask yourself why is the boy naked. I believe that this nudity is used to emphasize the closeness between Jesus and his mother.
In part of the pictures, you may find Maria holding a book. There is a story that tells that Jesus “read” the book and found his “destiny”, and decided to fulfill it – raising a conflict with his mother.
Another major conflict is between Yohanan(John) and Jesus’mother. By the final pictures, Madonna is trying to stop Jesus from cooperating with Yohanan(John), whose group symbolized homosexuality (an unaccepted thing for a family like Jesus had).