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Sister Wendy talks about the painting Madonna of the Meadow by Giovanni Bellini—she refers to it as Bellini’s Virgin in a Meadow. She describes the virgin as a young girl, with the light gleaming on her headgear, her gown being a marvelous deep blue, and the pink underneath her gown. Then, on her lap, is a baby that looks like its dead but isn’t; it’s just very pale and asleep. She describes the sight of the baby as “shocking”, and further says that this is the response Bellini intends for everyone who views the painting. This was how Christ was laid on his mother’s lap when He diedand was taken down from the cross. She says that the picture foreshadows it and reminds us of it. Sister Wendy adds that if you look deep enough, you will begin to see all sorts of meaningful details. For instance, behind the virgin, a snake is fighting with a great white bird. She describes this as aggressive. She also describes two men, both doing “dead-end jobs” in endless labor and monotony. Behind them there is a great castle, protecting itself with its walls. Sister Wendy says that in this world, the virgin not so much in the meadow as on it, like she’s a blue marquee. She says that all the little details and the great figure are unified by light.

In my opinion, the baby is dead to represent Christ when he died. Also, I think that the two men resemble the way of life of most average to low-income citizens at the time. Other than those two points, I agree with Sister Wendy’s opinion and interpretation of the painting.

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Sister Wendy also looks at the Renaissance painting of Bacchus and Ariadne by Titian. She views the painting as the work of a young Titian at his most wonderful. She describes the story of the painting as follows: Theseus saved Ariadne from her father. They fled together, andspent the night on theisland of Naxos. When she woke up, however, she saw the white sail of her lover on the horizon. Theseus had abandoned her. In that moment of intense despair and anguish, she heard the sound of music and, as portrayed by the painting, Bacchus cameout of the forest, leaping out of his chariot in her rescue. He had come withhis entire train of surreal, otherworldly creatures, all of which are portrayed. In her world, Ariadne was being betrayed. But in this other world, a miracle was happening. Sister Wendy says that Ariadne doesn’t show any emotion, that she’s too staggered. She adds that the painting is all about the moment when we are saved from utter miseryto joy; she elaborates further by giving an example of a person who is hopelessly in debt winning the lottery. She says that Titian felt a certain sort of empathy as shown in the way Bacchus leaps from the chariot. And he doesn’t just rescue her; he also twirls his fingers and makes her a crown of stars. She concludes that Titian saves us by taking us into the magical world he inhabits.

I think that Ariadne, when she sees Bacchus, shows surprise and maybe even shock, as the god himself, his chariot and his procession arefantastical, especially as they show up just when she has been abandoned and needs to be rescued. 

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