A favorite subject for artists has been the image of Mother and Child, with painters and sculptors creating countless variations on this theme.
One particular version, the Madonna and Child, depicting the young Mary and her child Jesus, is the most popular religious image in Christianity, surpassing even the Nativity and the Crucifixion.
The works of art below suggest the variety of artistic approaches to this subject across the centuries.
(Madonna and Child, two of at least thirty such paintings
by Raffaello Sanzio, known as Raphael, 1483-1520; with
Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, one of the three
shining stars of the High Renaissance)
(Icon of the Enthroned Virgin, sixth century,
located at the Saint Catherine Monastery, Sinai,
(Madonna and Child, Western African
wood figure, nineteenth century, in the
collection of the Museum of Ethnology,
(Virgin and Child by Henri Matisse, 1869-1954, French
sculptor, printmaker, and painter)
(Madonna and Child by Henry Moore,
1896-1986, one of half a dozen such
sculptures by the English sculptor and
artist; he also created several sculptures
of the image of Mother and Child)
(Madonna with a Flower by Leonardo
da Vinci, 1452-1519, Italian artist of the
High Renaissance; this most tender and
loving of images is my very favorite)
from THE HOLY CHILD’S SONG
“And when My Mother, pretty as a church,
Takes Me upon her lap, I laugh with love,
Loving to live in her flesh, which is My house and full of light!
(Because the sky My Spirit enters in at all the windows)
O, then what songs and what incarnate joys
Dance in the brightest rays of My childish voice!
“In winter when the birds put down their flutes
And winds plays sharper than a fife upon the icy rain,
I sit in this crib,
And laugh like fire, and clap My golden hands:
To view my friends the timid beast —
Their great brown flanks, muzzles and milky breath!”
~ Thomas Merton (1915-1968), American Trappist monk, poet, and author of many essays and books