“Stuppachskaya Madonna”, Matthias Grunewald – overview of the painting

“Stuppachskaya Madonna”, Matthias Grunewald – overview of the painting
"Stuppachskaya Madonna", Matthias Grunewald - overview of the painting - 1

  • Posted by Matthias Grunewald
  • Museum: Parish Church of the Ascension of Our Lady, Stuppah
  • Year: 1517-1519

Overview of the painting :

Stuppach Madonna – Matthias Grunewald. 1517-1519. Wood, tempera. 150 x 186 cm

   Despite the fact that of the artist’s entire creative heritage, only 10 paintings and 25 drawings reached us, it can be safely stated that he was one of the most talented and richly gifted masters of his time.

   The Stuppa Madonna is a work that has been attributed to the authorship of another brilliant master, Peter Paul Rubens, for many centuries. This alone speaks of Grunewald’s high skill. The picture is striking in the thorough elaboration and abundance of details, so you need to consider it for a long time and carefully.

   The central image is Our Lady with the baby Christ on his lap. Despite the traditionality of the image, it is so different from canonical types that it is immediately remembered forever. Firstly, there is no grief in the picture. The baby laughs, playing with her mother, which is completely unusual for this type of image. On them, Christ is usually strict and even severe as an adult, and his mother seems to foresee the difficult fate of his son. Here, the opposite is true – Our Lady with tenderness looks at her baby, who plays with an object in her hand.

   By all accounts, composition, coloristics and features of the picture, it seems written by one of the masters of the Italian Renaissance, and not by a German. In the canvas you can find many parallels with the work of Italians, for example, the face and hair of Madonna resemble Venus Sandro Botticelli, and the landscape in the background is a characteristic feature for many portraits of that period, in particular, the works of Leonardo da Vinci.

   The golden-haired Virgin Mary and the curly blonde Jesus are in the compositional center of the canvas. Their skin is so dazzlingly white that it just shines against the backdrop of a motley landscape and Madonna’s rich, magnificent clothes.

   In the foreground there are many different items, among which a golden vase with a pen full of fresh flowers. Among them are roses and two large branches of white lilies – a symbol of purity and innocence of Our Lady.

   The background is a lot of architectural and landscape details. The church towering behind the tree under which Madonna sits is a cathedral for which this canvas was written to order. The background is the city landscape, with phahverk houses characteristic of the late Middle Ages and an abundance of various services and facilities. Even though the picture has rather large dimensions, an incredibly many different elements and details fit on it. Impressive luminous halo over the head of Mary with Jesus, framed by a rainbow. And if you look at the sky, you can notice that God the father and the host of his angels are watching the idyllic picture.