Bruges, Belgium, so-called Bruges-la-Morte, according to the novelist Georges Rodenbach, in reality was nothing but dead, particularly during its commercial height several hundreds years ago, when it was one of the most vibrant and presperous cities in the world. It was during those golden years, Bruges acquired one of its most valuable treasures - a marble statue of Virgin and the Child by no other than Michelangelo, a centerpiece of the great cathedral of the city - Church of Our Lady, or Onthaalkerk Onze Lieve Vrouw Brugge, which became my favorite artwork from that cathedral during my visit in 2006.
This statue was brought back to to Bruges by its merchant during Michelangelo's life time - the only one left Italy had such distinction. It was bought by Giovanni and Alessandro Moscheroni (Mouscron), from a family of wealthy cloth merchants in Bruges, for the price of 4,000 florin. This piece, belonged to the subtle and/or subdued sculptures by Michelangelo, such as Pieta, David, versus others more energetically charged with tension, such as the Bound Slaves. This Madonna was becalming, soothing and comforting, despite the sad fate awaiting on the mother and son. The child, larger than normal, was thoughtful, vulnerable yet composed and even confident, seemingly only dependent out of courtesy to his mother. Maria was serene and without much facial expression. Nothing was stirred, no one was surprised. There was a great simplicity to this marvelously modeled statue which was also deceptively simple looking. Even the sea shell canopy was very subdued and humble, rendered the throne rather homey. The mother and son were so softly sculpted and so real that one expected them to stretch and moved about from their time-imposed, several hundred years' immobility.
Madonna by Michelangelo
Source: ArtMechanic via Wikipedia
My second favorite work there was a triptych by an unknown artist, in the late-medieval fashion, with golden plate halos and golden border decorations, and in the style of Flemish Primitives, with the typical Flemish rural landscape and rigid or ornate figures in impossible contortions. The most striking aspect of these panels were the rich colors the artist(s) employed. Vivid, rich, sparkling and harmonious. Old fashioned, in a most lovely and assertive way. Unforgettable.
Deposition of the Cross; anonymous
United States public domain tag
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