Art for Christmas cards anyone?

st-mark-preaching-in-alexandria-gentile-and-giovanni-bellini

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.

St Mark preaching in Alexandria by Gentile and Giovanni Bellini

‘St Mark Preaching in Alexandria’ by Gentile and Giovanni Bellini. Oil painting circa 1504-07. 3.47m x 7.7m Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan.

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.

imagined-egyptians-bellini

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.

Madonna and Child with Saints, San Domenico Triptych

St Peter part of the Madonna and Child with Saints, San Domenico Triptych. Carlo Crivelli 1482 Tempera and oil on wood. Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan.

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.

Simone da Corbetta part of Madonna and Child

Part of medieval painting – Madonna and Child (not shown), St. Catherine, St. Ursula, St. George and the donor Théodorico da Coira by Simone da Corbetta. 1382 Fresco transferred to canvas (235cm x 297cm) now at the Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan.

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!

Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan

The Virgin Mary in Heaven – detail of relief in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan.

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About agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.
This entry was posted in Art History, Visual Culture as Inspiration and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Art for Christmas cards anyone?

  1. 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…

    • agnesashe says:

      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.

  2. I do like grumpy St. Peter. What an expression.

  3. Denis1950 says:

    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.

  4. agnesashe says:

    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.

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