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post #21 of 33 (permalink) Old 03-21-2006, 04:29 PM
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RE: the Miracle of the Lactation

Like olly Parton said to the Panzertruppen: "Tanks for the mammaries!"

"Someday you will die somehow and something's gonna steal your carbon."
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post #22 of 33 (permalink) Old 03-21-2006, 04:47 PM
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RE: the Miracle of the Lactation

^^^^^^

That'll be Olly 'DD' Parton will it?
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post #23 of 33 (permalink) Old 03-21-2006, 05:28 PM
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RE: the Miracle of the Lactation

How'bout some 'ole caritas romana for among ye?







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post #24 of 33 (permalink) Old 03-21-2006, 09:19 PM Thread Starter
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RE: the Miracle of the Lactation

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30-98 - 3/21/2006 6:28 PM

How'bout some 'ole caritas romana for among ye?







those are jus plain scandalous!

mine were a little vulgar, but i just love yours[:)] whos work are they?
theyre the same subject, but is it biblical?

tell me tell me

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post #25 of 33 (permalink) Old 03-21-2006, 11:01 PM
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RE: the Miracle of the Lactation

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iNeon - 3/21/2006 11:19 PM

Quote:
30-98 - 3/21/2006 6:28 PM

How'bout some 'ole caritas romana for among ye?







those are jus plain scandalous!

mine were a little vulgar, but i just love yours[:)] whos work are they?
theyre the same subject, but is it biblical?

tell me tell me
Looks like someone saw "The Hills Have Eyes"...

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post #26 of 33 (permalink) Old 03-22-2006, 02:51 AM
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RE: the Miracle of the Lactation

The Female Breast as a Source of Charity: Artistic Depictions of Caritas Romana



Golda Balass

Dr. Golda Balass is lecturer in the Department of Art History, Tel Aviv University.



In many of his works in the present exhibition Boaz Tal conducts a dialogue with central, familiar images from the history of art, such as scenes of the PietÃ* (cat. 11), the Annunciation (cat. 16) and the Judgement of Paris (cat. 13). One of these images is the female breast, an image charged with multiple layers of meaning; in some of the works it is exposed in lactation scenes where the woman does not suckle an infant but rather a man (the artist, cat. 27). Vis-a-vis these works we are prompted to consider the link between the breast and maternal devotion, on the one hand, and the sensual and erotic, on the other.



In many works of art throughout history female breasts have been featured conspicuously and in the nude. The symbolic meaning ascribed to the breast was usually associated with fertility and nourishment, both spiritual and physical, and in the wider sense – with life. Artemis of Ephesus is a well-known example of an ancient fertility goddess. Many-breasted, she symbolizes the female nourishing power and fertility, and may stand for Mother Earth or Nature itself. The breast as a source of life and infant nourishment recurs in ancient visual depictions and myths, such as Hera nursing the infant Heracles, thereby not only saving his life but also granting him immortality.1 The best-known of these myths is probably the story of Rome’s founding, associated with the she-wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus.2



Representations of infant nursing are also found in Christian art in various contexts. The most prominent examples are those of the Virgin Mary suckling the Christ Child (Virgo Lactans) (ill. 1). The theme was especially popular in fourteenth-century Tuscan painting and sculpture.3 These depictions highlight the Virgin’s role as Mother of the Messiah, and in a wider sense – as intercessor for humanity (Maria Mediatrix). In Catholicism, Mary is regarded as the primary intercessor with Christ, an advocate for the Christian souls and a coredemptrix, first and foremost by virtue of her being Mother of the Messiah. To reinforce her rightful place as advocate for mankind, she is often depicted in art exposing her breast and pointing at it, as if saying "it is from me that the son of God suckled." The Virgin Mary was the mother who nursed not only her son, but also, through him, all of humanity (Mater Omnium, Nutrix Omnium). Thus, the breast and breast-feeding acquired moral qualities, becoming an expression of charity. The tension that could have occurred between the religious and the erotic does not take place in these works for two reasons: First, except for the bare breast, Mary is portrayed attired in a garment that covers most parts of her body so that the other breast does not protrude under the garment; second, the exposed breast does not appear as a natural organ belonging to the body, but rather as an appendage, often conch-shaped.



Another example of a nursing figure appearing in art in a moral-Christian context is the symbolic figure of Charity (Caritas) – the most important of the three Theological Virtues, alongside Faith and Hope. This female figure began to appear as part of a new iconography in Italian art in the first half of the fourteenth century, depicted as nursing two children – perhaps under the influence of Maria Lactans. At times, the figure of Charity was portrayed as bare-breasted, usually flanked by two – at times more – infants.4



Whereas nursing a child is a natural act generally devoid of erotic connotations or messages, works such as Boaz Tal’s, portraying a woman suckling an adult male, are necessarily charged with sexual associations, evoking complex, ambivalent responses in the viewer. In Christian art there are depictions of the Virgin Mary giving of her breast milk to elder men. In portrayals of the vision of St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), for instance, he turns to Mary asking her to prove that she is indeed the Mother of God, and the proof she provides is a stream of milk from her breast. Thus she also rewards him for the many writings he dedicated to her. In Murillo’s painting (c. 1650, ill. 2), St. Bernard is seen kneeling, receiving a jet of milk into his open mouth.5 Mary does not nurse him directly since such a depiction might have distracted the viewer from the vision’s religious meaning.



In secular art there are depictions of a woman nourishing an old man. These originate in a Roman literary source dating from c. 30. In Facta et dicta memorabilia, Valerius Maximus recounts the story of Pero, a young woman who nursed her father, Cimon, imprisoned and condemned to starvation. Her devotion persuades the authorities to release her father, and thus she saves his life. Valerius goes on to describe the strong impact made by a painting depicting the theme: “People stop in amazement and cannot take their eyes off the scene…. In those mute figures they feel they are looking on real and living bodies. This must be the effect on the mind too when the still more effective picture made by words prompts it to recall events of old as though they had just happened.�6



The story of Pero’s devotion to her father, often called Caritas Romana, was popular in ancient Roman art, while depictions of the scene in medieval art are extremely rare. In the Renaissance, and mainly in the Baroque, artists exhibited renewed interest in the pagan story, which is manifested in a large number of works. After the eighteenth century the number of works portraying this theme diminished considerably.7



The prevalent iconography of Caritas Romana features Pero with a bare breast, nursing her imprisoned father. The classical writers and the visual images from various periods, particularly those accompanied by a text, were emphatic as to the moral significance of the theme; at the same time, it obviously embodied an erotic potential as well. One may assume that the patrons and artists, including Boaz Tal, were well-aware of this duality and the possibility of highlighting either aspect, in keeping with the circumstances.



In the Roman period the theme of Caritas Romana was portrayed in numerous frescoes and terracotta paintings.8 The popularity of the theme during this period may be accounted for by a mural from Pompeii, whose physical condition unfortunately is quite bad. The episode takes place in a closed dark space, possibly a prison, according to the barred window in the top right-hand corner. A ray of light penetrates through this window, illuminating the only two figures in the room. Cimon kneels on the ground before Pero who is seated in frontal position, softly looking at her father. She holds out her breast, directing it towards his mouth, and he suckles. The moral lesson of the theme in the Pompeii paintings is elucidated by an accompanying inscription presenting it as an “example of virtue� (exemplum virtutis).9 It is important to note that Pompeii was discovered only in the mid-eighteenth century, thus these works cannot be considered as a source of inspiration for later artists.



One of the few medieval depictions of Caritas Romana is found in a manuscript of writings by Solinus dating from the thirteenth century.10 Pero is portrayed outside a fort-like prison, and Cimon, who does not look old enough to be her father, projects his torso through the prison bars in order to suckle from her breast. Pero is decorously attired, her gaze is rigid, and in fact, the image contains no erotic connotations whatsoever.



It is possible that the large number of depictions of Caritas Romana in Baroque and Renaissance art derives from the fact that from 1470-71 Valerius Maximus’ writings began to appear in print. In the sixteenth century the theme was addressed in some thirty works, among them works by major artists such as Giulio Romano and Perino del Vaga.11 The latter’s piece at Palazzo Doria in Genoa, where Pero is seen outside the prison nursing Cimon through the bars, was described as a precedence for Caravaggio’s 1607 work Seven Acts of Mercy (ill. 3).12



On the altarpiece for Pio Monte della Misericordia in Naples, Caravaggio depicted the Seven Acts of Mercy a Catholic must observe in order to gain redemption: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, taking in the stranger, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, visiting the prisoner (Matthew 25: 31-46**35-36?), and burial of the dead – added in the thirteenth century. On the right-hand-side of the work Caravaggio portrayed a female figure nursing a man whose head protrudes out of prison bars. This detail refers to two acts of mercy: visiting the prisoner and feeding the hungry. Caravaggio employed the pagan tale of Caritas Romana, unprecedented in the Christian context of describing the seven acts of mercy. Apparently, Caravaggio was criticized neither for the use of the pagan tale, nor for the erotic depiction of the bare-breasted Pero. Moreover, documents dating from 1613 indicate that the confraternity heads of Pio Monte della Misericordia in Naples greatly valued the work and decided it must not be sold, regardless of the sum offered. Other documents from 1621 indicate that they also decided to allow no one to copy the work.13 The patrons, learned members of the aristocracy, were probably aware of the critique voiced in Rome on several of Caravaggio’s works, yet it seems they appreciated his novel approach to the presentation of religious iconography. It may be assumed that Caravaggio expected viewers to be familiar with the moral lesson of the Roman story, and thus fathom its inclusion in a Christian context.



More erotic representations of Caritas Romana may be found in the numerous mid-sixteenth century engravings by German artists Barthel and Sebald Beham (ill. 4): Cimon is fettered, the upper part of Pero's body is exposed and she clings with her body to her father, planting her leg between his legs, while nursing him.14 Widely circulated, these engravings probably influenced the popularity of this theme among Baroque artists, especially in Italy and the Low Countries.15



The sensual aspects inherent in Caritas Romana seem to have appealed to Rubens who painted several versions of the theme.16 In the first version, dating from c. 1610 (ill. 5), the influence of Beham’s engravings is apparent. Although one can sense the intensity of the daughter’s compassion for her helplessly chained father, there is an erotic tension between the two figures. The starved Cimon is portrayed as a muscular man, close in age to his daughter. In an etching after Rubens’ painting dedicated to its commissioner, Carel van den Bosch, the Bishop of Bruges, there is an attempt to “tone downâ€? the erotic aspects by adding an inscription elucidating the moral underlying the story: “Now you see what real love is. The devoted child gives her milk to a father pitiably oppressed by hunger and hard chains; and this great love is said to have gained life for Cimon. Thus daughter became parent to her father.â€?17 In addition, it is possible that through Cimon’s posture, reminiscent of Christ in PietÃ* scenes, Rubens sought to evoke religious associations in the viewer. Nevertheless, one cannot disregard the erotic air emanating from the work; perhaps it was precisely the interweaving of the different aspects that so captured the Bishop of Bruges who was an art lover and a man of letters.18



In another work by Rubens dated to c. 1635 (ill. 6), Pero and Cimon are depicted in a sensual, lustful manner. Pero is succulent and her pair of lush breasts burst through her dress; this intensifies the erotic aspect, albeit the depiction clearly attests to Cimon’s great appetite. Rubens further enhanced the drama by adding two guards who peek through the prison's barred window. Pero, who knows that she is being watched, turns toward them with a pleading gaze.



The bare female breast in religious works invokes two types of tension in the viewer. First, tension between natural and cultural meanings. The bare-breasted Virgin, for instance, arouses associations that highlight her similarity to other women, while official Christianity accentuates her difference. Second, a bare breast in a religious painting creates tension between erotic attraction and a religious reading. On the other hand, it appears that artists and patrons had no dilemma presenting the female breast from a sensual, erotic viewpoint within the context of a theme with a moral lesson. The fact that the theme was classified as "exemplum virtutis� did not necessarily dictate a solemn and restrained mode of portrayal. Through the realistic depiction of the two “actors� in the Caritas Romana episode, the artists breathed life into Pero and Cimon, creating, as Valerius Maximus describes the Roman painting, figures that look like "real and living bodies [prompting] to recall events of old as though they just happened.�



Boaz Tal’s works in the current exhibition, where he himself appears as Cimon, are one link in the chain of artistic depictions on the theme of Caritas Romana. Out of the multiple “reading� options of these works, this essay has focused on two aspects: the erotic and the non-erotic.



Notes

1. In another version of the story, the event takes place once Heracles’s earthly activity is concluded and he is accepted on Mount Olympus as a man worthy of marrying Hebe, Hera’s daughter.



2. In ancient Egypt there are numerous depictions of Isis nursing her son (Isis Lactans), see: V. Tran Tam Tinh, Isis Lactans, Leiden 1973.



3. M. R. Miles, “The Virgin’s One Bare Breast: Nudity, Gender, and Religious Meaning in Tuscan Early Renaissance Culture,� in The Expanding Discourse: Feminism and Art History, eds. N. Broude and M. D. Garrard, New York 1992, p. 27.

On the Byzantine origin of the Virgo Lactans image, see: V. Lazareff, “Studies in the Iconology of the Virgin,� Art Bulletin, XX, 1938, pp. 35-36; A. Cutler, “The Cult of the Galaktotrophousa in Byzantium and Italy,� Jahrbuch der osterreichischen Byzantinistik, XXXVII, 1987, pp. 335-350.



4. R. Freyhan, “The Evolution of the Caritas Figure in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Century,� Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, XI, 1948, pp. 83-85; J. Hall, Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art, New York 1974, s.v. “Charity� p. 64.



5. On this work and works by other artists on the same theme, see: Bartolome Esteban Murillo 1617-1682 (exh. cat.), Royal Academy of Arts, London 1983, pp. 164-165.

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post #27 of 33 (permalink) Old 03-22-2006, 08:19 AM Thread Starter
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RE: the Miracle of the Lactation

i like the idea that the secular imagery(and just about all the rest as well) was just appropriated for christianity's use.

its sort of like the christians were the first duchamps, huh?

maybe ill go with the secular theme and see if anyone knows the difference between a devotional image and a 'history' painting?

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post #28 of 33 (permalink) Old 03-22-2006, 08:26 AM
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RE: the Miracle of the Lactation

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iNeon - 3/22/2006 10:19 AM

i like the idea that the secular imagery(and just about all the rest as well) was just appropriated for christianity's use.

its sort of like the christians were the first duchamps, huh?

maybe ill go with the secular theme and see if anyone knows the difference between a devotional image and a 'history' painting?
Good idea,but maybe give yourself a refresher on Van Der Weyden,Bosch,Breughel the elder,Lucas Cranach,Teniers,Rubens and latterly Henry Fuseli,best of luck in your creative endeavour.
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post #29 of 33 (permalink) Old 03-22-2006, 08:42 AM Thread Starter
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RE: the Miracle of the Lactation

im in northern renaissance history this term-- its the soul reason such antiquated images have been floating in my head since i heard of the assignment.

ive really always wanted to make an altar. first it was a simple, humble mexican-catholic style one with painted tin retablos and devotions, then it was politically charged, now its a self portrait.

i suppose its not really an altarpiece if itll never be hung in a chapel or used during services. but i do have a family friend that is pastor of his church. i'd be willing to bet he'd let me sneak it into the church and snap some photographs to place the object within the desired context.

theyre a black baptist congregation, so i am not sure they will wholly understand that it is not an image meant for shock value, baptists arent the most understanding(nor smartest of all christian sects) so i may have issues with that part.

we'll see in a little bit if he will let me paint on 3/4 masonite panel, or if i have to paint it on canvas and invent a whole freaking system of mouldings, panels and hinges. if he lets me use panel, then its all goood-- just paint the images, simply frame them and hinge them, but if the panels have to be canvas, seems like itll just be a canvas[:)]

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post #30 of 33 (permalink) Old 03-22-2006, 10:52 AM
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RE: the Miracle of the Lactation

Since you're studying renaissance you're familiar with the triptych,the most common folding altarpiece in use from the middle ages on,3 hinged panels or frames,some were very elaborate,some simple,do a search and check it out,3 panels might give you some added dimension and effect,masonite's a good medium,make sure you coat it first with some good sizing,you using oils?
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