When it comes to art, the outermost limits of my expertise are summarized by two aphorisms:
ME NOT KNOW ART BUT ME KNOW WHAT ME LIKE! – Cookie Monster
Beyond that, it’s just a smattering of stuff, much of which you will hear in this blog entry.
I mention this because last week I found this delightful bit of medieval art:
Yep! It’s a medieval snowball fight: the very best kind of snowball fight!
Comments ensued when I posted this at Ye Booke of Face:
Medieval art is wild.I am entertained by a series on “medieval artists who obviously never saw a baby before” on TikTok.
And I replied
Personally, I love all the crazy rabbits in medieval art.
Here we have a tiny 29 yo former frat dude on Mary’s lap.
When you think your mother reincarnated as a cat.
Cats and babies clearly drawn by men who never saw either.
To which I replied:
Or who are just bad at drawing.
Baby Jesus incarnated as a 45 year old man on the bowling league.
Then Anthony remarked:
In regard to the Child Jesus in icons looking either ripped or suffering from male pattern baldness, hypothetically the idea was to communicate the Divinity–“This is no normal baby, He is the Divine Wisdom/the Power of God, with a human nature.” While the iconographic tradition doesn’t really like changing from the old style (literally copying the lines/imitating the exact ways other people have done XYZ icon), people have gotten a little better at realizing, “Maybe we don’t need Old-Man-Baby-Jesus to communicate this… “
And Dan responded:
So, I am suspicious of piety being re-written into incompetent behaviors.I need to see this in contemporary discussions.Because they can’t draw cats either.
So I replied:
I’m not convinced it is incompetence. The portrayal of children as mini-adults may be a deliberate choice done for theological reasons. Iconography has its own peculiar vocabulary. The push for photo-realism in art is relatively recent in Christian art and centered in the west. Much of Christian art is more concerned with the message than with realism. Complaining of bad depictions of children in icons may be akin to saying that this is a bad representation of a *real* orca whale:
Which brings us to now and my question to readers:
I have a vague notion of hearing somewhere that there is actually a theological reason for drawing children as little adults in some iconography, but I could be wrong. If one of my readers with an art background could correct me or fill in the blanks, I’d be mighty beholden to you! Discuss below in the comboxes.