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Art for meditation - October 2021

Sagrada Familia del pajarito

Image © website Museo Nacional del Prado

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (Seville, Spain 1617 – 1682), The Holy Family with a Little Bird, around 1650, oil on canvas, 144 cm x 188 cm, Madrid, Spain, Prado Museum.

Month of October.

Contemplating this painting always brings great joy, because the painter favoured the simple, everyday dimension of the life of Jesus' family. They had finally returned to Nazareth, as evidenced by the carpenter's tools on the right side of the scene.

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Art for Mediatation - September 2021

fuga egittoAlbrecht Altdorfer, Ruhe auf der Flucht nach Ägypten, 1510, Cat. No. 638B

© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie / Jörg-P. Anders

Link: https://we.tl/t-xo1zjQWcfQ

Albrecht Altdorfer (Regensburg, Germany 1480 – 1538), Rest on the Flight into Egypt, 1510, oil on lime wood panel, 58.2 cm x 39.3 cm, Berlin, Germany, Gemäldegalerie.

Month of September. 

This small painting is above all a painter’s act of faith and devotion. This can be seen in the inscription with which he signed the work, in the bottom left corner, on the round base of the fountain's basin: ‘The painter Albert Altdorfer of Regensburg has consecrated this gift for his salvation to you, Holy Mary, with a faithful heart.’ I am moved by his desire to put his talent for painting at the service of his salvation. And he does it in a commendable way with a small but very elaborate work.

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Art for meditation - August 2021

Sacra famiglia Mantegna

© Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden - Photo by Elke Estel/Hans-Peter Klut

Andrea Mantegna (Isola di Carturo, Italy 1431 – Mantua, Italy 1506), Holy Family, 1495-1500, egg tempera and linseed oil on canvas, 75 cm x 61.5 cm, Dresden, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister. Inv. Gal.-Nr. 51

Month of August.

This work of art by the great Mantuan painter was almost certainly made for private devotion. We know little about the painting's history, but if we stare at it and contemplate it, before this work we can read into the folds of its meaning and listen to the emotions it arouses in us.

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Art for Meditation - July 2021

Rembrandt. La fuite en Egypte. D.Couineau

© Tours, musée des Beaux-Arts, cliché Dominique Couineau

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, (Leiden, Netherlands 1606 – Amsterdam, Netherlands 1669), The flight into Egypt, 1627, oil on wood, 26 cm x 24 cm, Tours, France, Musée des Beaux-Arts, gift by Mme Benjamin Chaussemiche, 1950. Inv. 1950-13-1

Month of July

This representation of the flight of Jesus’ family into Egypt is truly unique. The first thing that strikes us is the small size of the painting. This suggests that the young painter, still in his early twenties, must have painted it for a client - whether lay or religious - who wanted to keep the work in his home for private devotion.

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Art for meditation - June 2021

Strigel Bernhard Museo tedesco Norimberga

Bernhard Strigel, (Memmingen, Germany 1460 – 1528), Holy Family, 1505-1506, oil on fir wood, 78 cm x 55 cm, Nuremberg, Germany, Germanisches National Museum

Month of June.

The panel, along with nine others, all of them in Nuremberg, was part of the altarpiece of the chapel dedicated to St. Anne in the parish church of Mindelheim, Germany. The chapel was the burial place of the Rechberg and Frundsberg families, who asked the painter to depict the family of Jesus and his ancestors.

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Art for Mediatation - May 2021

Sacra famiglia

Master of the Saint Bartholomew Altarpiece (active in Cologne, Germany from 1470 to 1510 approximately), Holy Family, around 1495-1500, mixed technique on oak wood, 26 cm x 19,9 cm, Frankfurt, Germany, Städel Museum.

Month of May.

We do not know the name of the painter who painted this exquisite scene. He takes his name from a triptych - now in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, Germany - depicting St Bartholomew and 6 other saints, originally placed in the Carthusian monastery in Cologne, as evidenced by the depiction of a Carthusian monk kneeling in the middle, next to St Bartholomew, then moved to the church of St Columba, in Cologne, at the behest of a wealthy city merchant.

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Art for meditation - April 2021

Zurbaran Francisco Art Museum Seattleok

Francisco de Zurbarán, (Fuente de Cantos, Spain 1598 – Madrid, Spain 1664), The Flight into Egypt, 1630-35, oil on canvas, 150 cm x 159 cm, Seattle, Art Museum

Month of April.

The episode of the flight into Egypt is reported only in the Gospel of Matthew: “After they [the Magi] had left, suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, 'Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him.' So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod was dead” (Mt 2:13-15a).

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Art for Meditation - March 2021

san José marzo 2021

Domenikos Theotokopulos, known as El Greco (Candia, Greece 1541 – Toledo, Spain 1614), St. Joseph and the Christ Child, 1597-99, oil on canvas, 289 cm x 147 cm, Toledo, Spain, Chapel of Saint Joseph

19 March, Solemnity of Saint Joseph

I am sure some of you are wondering why I have not chosen a picture of the Holy Family for this month. The simple answer is that I wanted to make a special dedication to St Joseph in this month of March. In fact, this painting - which I personally find wonderful - made me think that the whole Family of Jesus is actually present. As a matter of fact, Mary is on this side of the painting, in our same position, smiling and contemplating her little Jesus who has run to embrace his father, to cling to him trustingly, to receive his affectionate caress. If a camera had existed in those days, this painting would be a picture taken by Our Lady!

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Art for Mediatation - February 2021


Martin Schongauer (Colmar, France 1440/5 – Breisach, Germany 1491), The Holy Family, 1480-90, oil on panel of red beech wood, 26.3 cm x 17.2 cm, Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum.


Martin Schongauer is most famous for his work as a copperplate engraver. He produced around 130 engravings, and the fame of his works, while he was still alive, was such that a famous painter and engraver like Albrecht Durer decided to travel from his native Nuremberg to Colmar just to meet the artist who had inspired him so much. Nevertheless, as there was no WhatsApp or TV at the time, it was only when he arrived in Colmar that he learned that Schongauer had been dead for several months.

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Tondo Doni

Michelangelo Buonarroti (Caprese, Italy 1475 – Rome, Italy 1564), Holy Family, known as “Doni Tondo”, 1506-07, oil and tempera on panel, 120 cm (diameter), Florence, Uffizi Gallery.

Let us begin this year's theme with a great work. It is the Holy Family as depicted by Michelangelo in his only painting on panel that is certainly autograph. We are at the beginning of the 16th century and Florence is home to the three greatest geniuses of the Italian Renaissance: Leonardo, Raphael and Michelangelo. The panel was painted for Agnolo Doni, a wealthy cloth merchant, a leading member of the Florentine upper middle class who married the noblewoman Maddalena Strozzi on 31 January 1504 (on that occasion Raphael painted the portraits of the couple, also on display in the Uffizi Gallery). The panel was probably commissioned on the occasion of the birth of the daughter Maria, and the choice of theme seems to be a tribute to that important family, gladdened by the arrival of their first-born.

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Year of St Joseph

Sgda Familia Rupnik 2

With the Apostolic Letter Patris corde (With a father's heart), Pope Francis reminds us of the 150th anniversary of the declaration of St. Joseph as Patron of the Church and, from December 8, 2020 to December 8, 2021, a year will be celebrated especially dedicated to him. 

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Art for Meditation - December 2020

Raffaello Sanzio, known as Raphael (Urbino, Italy 1483 – Rome, Italy 1520), Canigiani Holy Family, 1505-06, oil on poplar wood, 131 cm x 107 cm, Munich, Germany, Alte Pinakothek

27 December, Feast of the Holy Family.

As for many other works by Raphael, we know the history of this painting too. Painted for Domenico, a prominent member of the noble and rich Canigiani family, perhaps in view of his marriage to Lucrezia Frescobaldi in 1507, the work was noticed by Vasari in the Canigiani heirs' house.

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