- Find a way to celebrate Christmas inspired by artwork seen in the museum
I figured the most literal way to be inspired would be by visiting the Medieval art galleries, which are filled to the brim with images of the Nativity and Baby Jesus.
As I wandered from baby to baby, I was struck by a pattern. Can you spot it?
There always seems to be a symbol associated with the Child: be it a bird, a piece of fruit, or coral.
Take this Virgin and Child from mid-13th century Northern Italy:
According to the 150th Anniversary Guide of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, there is some ambiguity over what fruit the Infant is holding. It could be an apple (the fruit of Original Sin in the Garden of Eden) or a pomegranate (a symbol of the Passion).
And this Sienese Madonna of Humility from around 1400:
Here, the Child is clutching a goldfinch, a bird that eats thistles and thorns. This alludes to the crown of thorns in the Passion.
And this Virgin and Child:
Note the coral necklace. Coral, due to its resemblance of blood vessels. has long been associated with Christ's Blood of Redemption.
How bittersweet, seeing images of a newborn and his mother, surrounded by symbols of the child's future grisly death. But, according to the Christian faith, this horrific death brings glorious salvation. Talk about sorrow mingled with joy!
So, to bring it back to the challenge for my visit, how was I going to be inspired to celebrate Christmas based on these artworks?
Simple, I thought. I'll make Christmas tree ornaments based on these symbols of the man of the hour, or, rather, the baby of the hour. I already have bird ornaments, won last year at a Jingle Belles concert in Paris. So, I decided to make a pomegranate and coral to add to my Christmas tree.
I adapted this project to make my ornaments. Here are the results!
Address: 1380 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montréal ∣ Métro: Station Peel or Station Guy-Concordia (Green Line) ∣ Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm, major exhibition open until 9pm on Wednesday
NOTE: The MMFA is free this December (except the main temporary exhibition)!