The following is an excerpt from Br. Gabriel Torretta, O.P.’s article, “Did the Virgin Mary Tickle the Baby Jesus?” .
When you picture Mary holding the Christ-child, what do you imagine her doing? Gazing into his eyes? Nursing him? Just holding him close? Thanks to the new Picturing Mary exhibit at D.C.’s National Museum of Women in the Arts, you can add another loving mother-son activity: tickles.
This magnificent exhibit of Renaissance and Baroque depictions of Mary covers all the familiar Marian topics, from standard Madonna-and-Child images, to crucifixion scenes, to Mary’s role in Christian life, etc. Amid all that splendor the curators have tucked away two little gems, Andrea Pisano’s bas-relief Madonna and Child (1340) and the painter known only—and promisingly—as the Master of the Winking Eyes’ tempera on the same theme (c.1450). What makes these images so striking—besides the winking eyes—is that, judging from their postures, facial expressions, and hand positions,
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