Monday, August 03, 2009

Symbolism in Art

This painting, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, painted in 1849, is titled the Girlhood of the Virgin Mary, and shows Mary being educated by her mother, Saint Anne. St. Anne is teaching Mary to embroider a white lily on a red panel. The angel is holding up a lily which Mary is copying to her panel. The books represent her virtues and charity, and the lily her purity and innocence. The white dove outside the window with the halo is the Holy Spirit. The red robe hanging on the wall will belong to Jesus, and Saint Joachim tends to the vine, representing the vine-dresser in Our Lord's parable. The vine represents the sacrifice of Christ's life for our salvation.

If you look at the trellis in the centre of the painting, you can clearly see a cross formed. In the forefront of the painting, there is a seven leafed palm and a rose stem with seven thorns. The seven leaves of the palm represent the divinity of Christ, and the seven thorns of the rose, the seven sorrows of Mary. The cord that binds them together fortells the Passion of Christ and unites the Passion of Jesus to the Sorrows of Mary.

It gives a whole new outlook into a painting when all the symbolism is brought to light, doesn't it?


Anita Moore said...

That picture certainly is worth a thousand words!

Shirley said...

Catholic culture is full of symbolism. Is your new header the death of Mary?

paramedicgirl said...

Yes, the new header is the death of Mary, in keeping with her Feast of the Assumption this month. Notice the Apostles do not touch Mary; rather, they are holding the linen of her bedding. Mary was pure and sinless, and this shows the respect the Apostles had for her. It is also possible that God would not allow human hands to touch her; either way, the artist shows her purity by this representation.