|Bouguereau.—Madonna of the Angels.|
After the time of Raphael, a pretty form of Madonna in glory was occasionally painted, showing the Virgin with her babe sitting above the crescent moon. The conception appears more than once in the paintings of Albert Dürer, and later, artists of all schools adopted it. Sassoferrato's picture in the Vatican Gallery is a popular example. Tintoretto's, in Berlin, is not so well known. In the Dresden Gallery is a work, by an unknown Spanish painter of the seventeenth century, differing from the others in that the Virgin is standing, as in the oft-repeated Spanish pictures of the Immaculate Conception.
It is of pictures like this that our poet Longfellow is speaking, when he thus apostrophizes the Virgin:
"Thou peerless queen of air,
As sandals to thy feet the silver moon dost wear."
The enskied Madonna involves many technical difficulties of composition, and demands a high order of artistic imagination. It could hardly be called a frequent subject in the period of greatest artistic daring, and no modern painter has shown any adequate understanding of the subject, though there are not lacking those who have made the attempt. Bodenhausen, Defregger, Bouguereau, have all followed Raphael in representing the Queen of Heaven as a full-length figure in the sky; but their conception has not the dignity corresponding to the style of treatment.
Impatient and dissatisfied with such modern art, we turn back to the old masters with new appreciation of their great gifts.