Years ago I received a charity Christmas card which featured what I took to be ‘The Three Wise Men’. Last month, at the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, I saw the very large Gentile and Giovanni Bellini painting, ‘St Mark Preaching in Alexandria’. This painting had originally been started by Gentile Bellini, but following his death it was completed by his brother Giovanni. It is a fascinating Renaissance Venetians’ version of an imagined Islamic Alexandria.
Whilst photographing some of the captivating detail, displaying both the vivid imagination and skill of the Bellini brothers, I noticed three bystanders in non-Western dress. Here were my Christmas card kings.
There has also been a fashion for embossed, golden cards for Christmas. I’m not sure if this version of St Peter by Crivelli has been used yet, but the relief work depicting the keys and crosier could easily be embossed. Perhaps St Peter is looking a touch too joyless for Christmas.
A small amount of gilt and glitz is acceptable at Christmas, but I think I prefer the more muted colours of frescoes. How about this fourteenth century painting by Simone da Corbetta. It fits the bill visually and would appeal more to a 21st century sensibility with the wan-faced, tall and thin female saints.
And, finally, there’s plenty of inspirational, ornate sculptural work hidden away in churches. However, church interiors are frequently gloomy and a tripod (not popular with guides and security) is often required to capture an interesting, potential Christmas card image in focus or, maybe, not quite!
9 thoughts on “Art for Christmas cards anyone?”
Did you finally decide on a scene? Do you make your own cards? I used to years ago when I had less time – not sure why I don’t these days…
I, too, used to make my own Christmas cards many years ago, but nowadays somehow I don’t have enough time. If I was to have a go I’d definitely choose the Simone da Corbetta fresco.
I do like grumpy St. Peter. What an expression.
Can’t be easy being St. Peter, so let’s allow him to look grumpy 🙂
Yes, I guess St Peter doesn’t get a very good press, but we can appreciate his human frailty.
Yes Mr Grumpy. I would love to know if it was painted from a model or pretty much from Crivelli’s imagination. I suspect it was modelled and perhaps the man was thinking ‘come on, hurry up, I need a tea break’.
Yes, it’s such an individual face!
Fascinating images Agnes. That is one dodgy looking bloke in the 4th image. If you saw my stained glass window post 2 days ago, my wife is using a full window shot for our Christmas cards.
Yes, I saw the post. I was thinking looking at my shots of the Victorian glass at Long Melford that one of the Nativity scenes would make a good Christmas card. However, with my Art Historian’s hat on the Victorian work is quite good, but not as exquisite and sublime as the surviving medieval glass at Long Melford.