Brera Alterpiece and Baxandall

7:00 AM

Piero Della Francesca, Brera Altarpiece, 1472

At first glace Piero Della Francesca's Brera Alterpiece of Madonna and Child looks like an awkward family portrait including the Virgin Mary with a very large lap. For some reason there is also an egg on a string above Mary and Baby Jesus.

While reading Michael Baxandall's Painting and Experience in Fifteenth Century Italy, we learn to look at the painting with a more critical eye. Baxandall taught us to look at the stance of a the figures and where they are placed. The Angels and Saints are focused around Mary and Jesus putting the focus on the center of the painting. It is thought that St. John the Baptist and St. Francis are in the group symbolizing a momentous occasion. He would also say look at the colors. Mary is wearing her typical blue robe,and Jesus has a necklace of red beads with the foreshadowing and symbol of blood.

The egg above is thought to be a round ostrich egg. This could be symbolizing the fertility and creation. Although I enjoy looking at this painting I cannot get over how awkward and uncomfortable the people look. How can Mary balance Jesus like that? Why is the man at the bottom in a full ninty degree angle? And of course, why is there and egg on a string?

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