Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Da Vinci's Madonna & Child with St. Anne, and Bach's St. Anne Prelude & Fugue

Today is the feast day of St. Anne, and what better way to celebrate than through art!  To commemorate the day, I am posting the masterpieces of two of the most prominent names in both the art world and at large: Leonardo da Vinci and Johann Sebastian Bach!

Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci presents portrays in the sketch below the Blessed Mother and the Infant Christ Child alongside St. Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin. This detail is part of a larger sketch which also portrays the infant St. John the Baptist. For this reason, I find it rather odd that the other woman is designated as St. Anne rather than St. Elizabeth, the mother of St. John. But perhaps there is a significant detail I am missing that reveals her to be St. Anne, or perhaps da Vinci himself designated her as St. Anne to avoid the confusion of future generations.

Detail of Madonna and Child with St. Anne and the Young St. John by Leonardo da Vinci
This second piece of art is Bach's Prelude and Fugue in E-flat Major, also known as the St. Anne Prelude and Fugue. The title of St. Anne comes from the melody of the same name, which appears as the fugue subject -- the principal melody upon which the piece is built -- in the second movement of this baroque masterpiece. The first movement consists of three parts and is meant to reflect the three persons of the Holy Trinity. Of course, in my opinion, listening to "Our Holy Father Bach" (in the words of French Romantic organist Charles-Marie Widor) is a perfect way to celebrate any occasion, but today especially he seems appropriate!

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