Friday, August 26, 2011

Meg Meets Michelangelo

It must have been around 1960 when my grandparents took me and my sister, Mary, on a trip from our home in Wisconsin to Florida. That was probably the first time I ever saw a palm tree, the Gulf of Mexico, and a replica of Michelangelo's David. We had gone to the Ringling Museum of Art at the Ringling estate in Sarasota. That day is one of those memories securely locked in my mental filing cabinet for several reasons.

The sheer size and beauty of the estate and the home called Ca' d'Zan, the House of John.  How about 36,000 square feet?

I can remember standing in this very room. The pipes of the organ were hidden behind tapestries which I thought was a fantastic idea. My grandfather and my mother gave me their love for pipe organs. One of the best gifts ever.

On the grounds of the estate is an art museum housing dozens of old masters. This is my first memory of standing in front of a massive oil painting. It just really made an impression on my little mind. Even if your children are not able to understand all that they see, the sheer beauty and size of masterpieces will not be lost on them forever. Take them!

Then out in the garden is the replica of this great sculpture by Michelangelo.
We  just thought Goliath must have been a giant. Take a look at his adversary.
Seventeen feet tall. Now that's impressive.

Ok. So Meg was spending the day with me this week, something her Aunt E used to call "family bondage."   During the course of our conversation on an entirely different subject I tapped my finger on this photo in a catalog.
 Michelangelo's Pieta.

Next to the above photo was this one.
 The Dying Slave

Which was above this.
The Florentine Pieta

As is her custom, Meg had a question/comment. "Why don't any of these people have clothes on?"
"Because," I replied, "one thing sculptors like Michelangelo wanted to do was  make a statue that showed how beautifully God had made the human body. You can even see the muscles on Jesus' belly. He was beautifully made and beautifully sculpted. Look at this sculpture, Meg. That is Nicodemus holding Jesus. Do you remember the story of Nicodemus?"

With her little index finger tapping her lip she thought and thought and dug deep into her memory. I could see the wheels spinning. "Yes! I know that story! Nicodemus is the rat who lives under a rose bush in "The Secret of Nimh."

She and I have some art museums ahead of us. And Bible stories. And organ concerts. Stay tuned for developments.

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