Replica of “Madonna of the Rose Garden”
by Stephan Lochner 1410-1451
The hectic Christmas season is over. Cold winter months loom ahead when art will need to be done indoors and there may be more time to be creative. So why not think about Christmas season 2014. Was there a Christmas project you meant to complete this season but ran out of time? Was there a time in the season when you had a great idea for an inspiring piece that could become part of your Christmas decor year after year, but you were too overwhelmed to act on it? If so, January is a great time to plan and begin a seasonal art project.
Some years ago I longed for a poster reproduction of one of the great Madonna paintings from the past to hang above the mantel over our fireplace. I searched in stores selling painting reproductions that could be framed but there were no Madonnas. The first Christmas card I received that year had on it a reproduction of Stephan Lochner’s “Madonna of the Rose Garden.” I knew I had found my Madonna, but wondered how to reproduce it on a larger scale. The painting itself suggested the answer. Artists from northern Europe in the 1400s painted a lot of Madonnas. One thing they all had in common was an emphasis on the draping of cloth. I would reproduce this Madonna in cloth and embroidery.
This was a huge project and as I recall I started in January. I bought stretchers for a 30″ x 24″ piece and attached muslin to it so that I could sew the various cloth pieces to it that I bought at a fabric store. Using tracing paper which I gridded, I traced the design of the Christmas card and then transferred the design to 30″ x 24″ tracing paper. This way I could see where to place the various pieces of cloth and sew them down by hand. The final details I did with embroidery thread. The result is shown above. It is the first item I hang on Dec. 1 and the last I take down on January 1. I love looking at it.
When my eldest daughter was married and they had their own place, she asked me to make a Madonna for her. But being an artist, I wasn’t going to do the same Madonna all over again. So I began to look at Madonnas from northern Europe of the same time period. I found a slide of a Madonna I liked in a museum gift shop and made one for her and her husband as a Christmas gift. She liked it so well that she leaves it hanging in her home all year. Since then I have made Madonnas for two daughters and their husbands and a son and his wife each one different. Two of the Madonnas I found in art books and the last one on the internet.
The slower pace of January awaits. What new creative project will you begin?