Tuesday, April 13, 2004

In 1440, Canon Fursy de Bruille arrived in Cambrai, France, with an icon of the Virgin and Child he had received in Rome, which he had been told was a holy relic painted by St. Luke. The image [left] shows Jesus squirming in his mother's arms. Mother and child, doleful and shy, turn slightly toward us, as if they are watching or waiting for something. Many artists copied the picture. The canon gave it to the Cathedral of Cambrai, where thousands of pilgrims saw it. Modern historians are not sure who painted the Cambrai Madonna or where, but it conforms to a type, the Virgin of Tenderness, an invention of the late Byzantine era. ... As "Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557)" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art reminds us, artistic decline does not necessarily accompany political decay. NY Times/more

UPDATE: New Yorker review