Thursday, April 30, 2009

May: The Month of Mary

May Magnificat

May is Mary's month, and I
Muse at that and wonder why;
Her feasts follow reason,
Dated due to season -

Candlemas, Lady Day;
But the Lady Month, May
Why fasten that upon her,
With a feasting in her honour?

. . . . . . . .

Ask of her, that mighty mother:
Her reply puts this other
Question: What is Spring? -
Growth in every thing -

. . . . . . . .

All things rising, all things sizing
Mary sees, sympathizing
With that world of good,
Nature's motherhood.

Their magnifying of each its kind
With delight calls to mind
How she did in her stored
Magnify the Lord.

Well but there was more than this:
Spring's universal bliss
Much, had much to say
To offering Mary May.

. . . . . . . .

This ecstacy all through mothering earth
Tells Mary her mirth till Christ's birth
To remember and exultation
In God who was her salvation.

Gerard Manley Hopkins (28 July 1844 – 8 June 1889),

Paul Gauguin (French, 1848–1903)
TitleIa Orana Maria (Hail Mary)
Oil on canvas
44 3/4 x 34 1/2 in. (113.7 x 87.6 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The Gallery Label for this picture states:

"Before embarking on a series of pictures inspired by Polynesian religious beliefs, Gauguin devoted this, his first major Tahitian canvas, to a Christian theme, describing it in a letter of March 1892: "An angel with yellow wings reveals Mary and Jesus, both Tahitians, to two Tahitian women, nudes dressed in pareus, a sort of cotton cloth printed with flowers that can be draped from the waist. Very somber, mountainous background and flowering trees . . . a dark violet path and an emerald green foreground, with bananas on the left. I'm rather happy with it."

Gauguin based much of the composition on a photograph he owned of a bas-relief in the Javanese temple of Borobudur.

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) (Greek, 1541–1614)
The Virgin Mary ("Mater Dolorosa"), 1590s
Oil on canvas; 20 1/2 x 14 1/8 in. (52 x 36 cm)
Musées des Beaux-Arts de Strasbourg

Plaque with the Virgin Mary as a Personification of the Church, carved 800–875
Overall 8 11/16 x 5 11/16 x 5/16 in. (22 x 14.5 x 0.8 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The Gallery Label states:

“The spindles in Mary's right hand often appear in depictions of the Annunciation, as she receives the news that she will bear the Christ Child. The military appearance of her costume and the cross-topped scepter she holds suggest that she should also be understood here as a personification of the Church Triumphant. The curious juxtaposition of the figure of Mary as the Virgin Mother of Christ and as the Church is unique to this ivory plaque. "

Lorenzo Monaco (c.1370-1425)
Coronation of the Virgin
15th century
Tempera, gold-leaf on panel, integral frame gabled top
Height: 195 cm; width: 154.7 cm
The Courtauld Gallery, London