[Daily article] May 6: Saint Luke Drawing the Virgin

Saint Luke Drawing the Virgin is a large 15th-century panel painting,
oil and tempera on oak, attributed to the Early Netherlandish painter
Rogier van der Weyden and usually dated between 1435 and 1440. Housed in
the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, it shows Luke the Evangelist, patron
saint of artists, sketching the Virgin Mary as she nurses the Child
Jesus. The figures are positioned in a bourgeois interior which leads
out towards a courtyard, river, town and landscape. The enclosed garden,
illusionistic carvings of Adam and Eve on the arms of Mary’s throne, and
attributes of St Luke are amongst the painting’s iconographic symbols.
The face of Luke is accepted as van der Weyden’s self-portrait. The
painting’s historical significance rests on both the skill behind the
design and its merging of earthly and divine realms. By positioning
himself in the same space as the Madonna, and showing a painter in the
act of portrayal, Van der Weyden brings to the fore the role of artistic
creativity in 15th-century society. The panel became widely influential
with near copies by the Master of the Legend of Saint Ursula and Hugo
van der Goes.

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Today’s selected anniversaries:

1757:

English poet Christopher Smart was admitted into St Luke’s
Hospital for Lunatics in London, beginning his six-year confinement to
mental asylums.

1801:

French Revolutionary Wars: The outmanned and outgunned
HMS Speedy captured the 32-gun Spanish frigate El Gamo.

1937:

The German zeppelin Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed
during an attempt to dock at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey,
killing 36 people.

1954:

At Oxford’s Iffley Road Track, English runner Roger Bannister
became the first person to run the mile in under four minutes.

2013:

Amanda Berry escaped from the Cleveland, Ohio, home of her
captor Ariel Castro having been held there with two other women for ten
years.

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Wiktionary’s word of the day:

measly:
1. Particularly of pigs or pork: infected with larval tapeworms or
trichinae (parasitic roundworms).
2. Of a person: infected with measles.
3. Small (especially contemptibly small) in amount; miserable, paltry,
trifling.

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Wikiquote quote of the day:

  They buried my body And they thought I’d gone, But I am the
Dance, And I still go on. They cut me down And I leapt up high; I am the
life That’ll never, never die; I’ll live in you If you’ll live in me —
I am the Lord Of the Dance, said he.  
–Sydney Carter

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