Name: La Sainte Parente by Simon De Chalons
Title: La Sainte Parente
Artist: Simon De Chalons
Shape/Size: 188×268 Centimeters
Subject: As the name suggests, the saint parent, St Anne is depicted holding Christ with St Mary in the descriptive backdrop.
Location of Painting: Old Avignon in Muse’e Calvet.
Description and analysis:
The painting in all its ancient touch describes magnificently the appraisal of Jesus Christ as an infant in the tender care of St Anne under the subtle vigilance of St Mary on her right side. The entire look of the painting looks like as if it were a dedication to the ‘child’ because there are six other children of similar ages scattered in other places occupying the frontal areas in the painting. This is significant because the artists idea was to depict children in all their innocence and in full description which would be possible only if they are clearly in the front of the work. The Painting has been presented in the country side during a lovely day among the green foliage. It tends to give the viewer the idea that this event was a planned one. Something like an outing. Also note that the painting at its base shows baskets and a cradle for Christ which give you the impression again that the event was preplanned.
Presentation of the figures: All the figures seem to be engaged in something or the other except St Mary who has a satisfied, holy and deep gaze in her eyes and stares out intensely yet with subtlety at a point of no contact. There are two points to be carefully noted here. Most of the men except one have been grouped together and most of the women have been put together. This to some degree clearly establishes De Challons’s Orthodox believes.
Two, all men are engaged in deep conversation while the women tend to the children.
This establishes two things. Firstly that the De Challon was orthodox and secondly a reflection of the society of that era which clearly demanded this attitude.
Dress: Colours are subtle, beige and sky blue. Very typical of the era in which the painting was made and also a reflection that De Challons was heavily influenced by Michelangelo and his works. The dressing is depicted in such a way that the painting is made devoid of any sensual element whatsoever. Full sleeved robes in women are clear indications that the painter had this factor in mind while the making of this work, as the motive for the painting was Christianity which should be orthodox.
Pose: Every bit of posture in this painting has been so beautifully done that they can only speak one thing which is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is at the rough Center of this painting with St Anne. The men in the background are discussing Christ and his miraculous birth it seems clear. Jesus Christ is shown interacting with another child his age as he stands slightly bent on his birth cradle. This is to show that he was divine with prophetic intelligence even at his age that he deems fit to touch and bless someone his own age. The Male figure on the right side to St Mary is shown pointing at Christ in his conversation with his other male companion.
Expression: Divine, subtle, patient and intelligent
Gesture: The most important observation here is the use of hands everywhere in the painting. St Anne’s right hand that cover both Christ and the other child next to him almost like a protective maternal umbrella and her left hand that rests gently on his back for his protection, Jesus Christ’s hands that extend to the child next to him almost in a way of affection and blessing, The man in the backdrop who points this left fore finger at Jesus in a way of miraculous expression and the other men whose hands are held in an expression of contempt, acceptance and thought over the birth of Christ.
Period and style:
The Period/Style is clearly from the times of Michelangelo. This is shown in the colours used, the morphology of the depicted characters, the expression and the fact that the painting has a theme which is Christ. The style is definitely idealized and not original in the real sense. Arrangement is orderly because the artist has equally covered all quadrants of the painting and distributed characters everywhere. Form Morphology as earlier noted is very much idealized on the works of Michelangelo and hence like all his paintings is anatomically perfect, without any exaggerations and very proportionate.
Organization as earlier noted is efficient and well covered. Christ is roughly at the center.
It is the typical ‘crown’ pattern of pictorial arrangement of characters if carefully noted. Lighting is depictive of daylight. Not very bright, hence somewhere just after dawn.
Space: Degree of illusionism seems low on content. The intuitive use of ideas, form and structure are clear. It leaves the viewer many things to grasp and discuss. Afterthought is high after the painting has been viewed.
Lighting: The degree of luminosity depicted is very even. One thing to be noted here is that the use of the blue sky in the background is to give the viewer the idea that it is daytime. This is obvious but what is more interesting is that if all the bits and traces of just the sky were to be covered with something, the rest of the scene which is the women would look like a night scene which throws us into a thought if the scene depicted is really dawn as earlier mentioned or an approaching dusk.
Figures are not clearly ‘served’ to the eyes of the viewer because the use of colours/light is sometimes not even in or around them.
Expression: The emotional content of the painting is scaled at moderate without expression of intense grief or joy. It is more or less distributed at warmth and maternal joy. Some backdrop characters seem less joyous and more in deep thought and conversation.
Drama content is on the higher side with the men in candid positions and the women in constant vigilance of the children.
Form and content:
The painting works exactly in the way it was perhaps intended to work while it was made. The message it gives is definitely the birth of Christ and also tends to give the opinion that his birth was a divine miracle and it should and will remain that way. No questions asked. It teaches us that children are God’s gift to mankind and should be valued and respected. What better example of a child to be valued than Jesus Christ? Isn’t it?
Personally speaking the most striking aspect of this painting in my eyes is the position of Christ as he tenderly yet firmly addresses the other child. This is special because, even to an untrained onlooker who has no inkling of knowledge about the painting, has no idea about Christianity and its history or has no opinion whatsoever, it clearly establishes the fact that this child depicted in the painting is in some way divine and that he is the subject of discussion through out this painting. What first drew my attention to the painting was definitely the mood of the painting and the variety of colours used which were classy.
And the only thing I find irritating is the incompletely done character on the extreme left of Christ. He looks irritating to my eye and the color used on him is lighter and less clear. He is also not completely done according to me. His presence disrupts the mood of the painting and removes the constant sense of serenity of the work as a whole.