Friday at the Met

Today my friends and I spent the afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. It was an odd day of frustrated plans. We’d intended to first visit the Neue Galerie, which is right down the street, (we all wanted to see Klimt’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer”) but when we got there, they had a line half a block long and a thirty minute wait to get in. Two of us have some mobility issues and that wasn’t happening so we just spent the day at the Met instead, which is certainly no hardship! We’d intended to stop in at the Met to view the Bosch painting “Adoration of the Magi,” to study its color and composition, but when we got to the Flemish gallery, we discovered that this particular painting is currently on loan in Europe. That was ok though. There were certainly plenty of other lovely pieces of art to look at. I ended up finding several pieces to study that I might otherwise never have discovered.

The first (and my favorite of everything I’ve seen today) is by A. Isenbrant : “Christ Crowned with Thorns (Ecce Homo), and the Mourning Virgin.” I occasionally paint icons of Mary so I have a particular love and fascinating with Medieval and Renaissance images of Her. This painting moves me intensely. I stood for a very long time looking at it, and kept returning to that gallery to study it again.

Adriaen Isenbrant (Netherlandish, active by 1510–died 1551 Bruges) Christ Crowned with Thorns (Ecce Homo), and the Mourning Virgin, ca. 1530–40 Oil on canvas, transferred from wood; 41 1/2 x 36 1/2 in. (105.4 x 92.7 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1904 (04.32)

Her face is absolutely lovely, with perfect symmetry. The only brightness in the painting comes from the luminescence around her face. It draws the eye, even more than the somber and tortured image of her son. She becomes the focal point of the viewer’s contemplation.

The second image that caught my attention is “Adoration of the Magi” by Justus of Ghent. Again, it was the figure of the Madonna that I found captivating. Her face is so gaunt, so weary, and yet beautifully serene. She’s also in red, which seems unusual to me.

justus of ghent

In both paintings, it’s the power of Mary’s face that compels my gaze. I want to try to do charcoal studies of each. I just find them both so mesmerizing.

Then there was this:

gerard david

Both of these are by Gerard David, but the one to which I’m referring is on the right: “St. Francis Receiving the Stigmata,” or as I like to call it “Jazz Hands!” It’s totally friggin’ awesome.

This visit has given me a lot to study and a lot to aim for in my art. I left the museum with my eyes full. I’ll be thinking about these pieces for a long time.