Art Analysis: The Mérode Altarpiece

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The Mérode Altarpiece While the Mérode Altarpiece is definitely not the most aesthetically beautiful piece of art I have been introduced to this summer, it is my favorite for many reasons. After looking deeper into the painting and learning of the symbolism and background of it, I began to find myself really interested in it. I became interested enough in this painting to do some research on it outside of the class. While there are many common characteristics held by the painting, they are not my main reason to enjoy it. The painting features intriguing symbolism and a lot of possible background to it that contribute to what makes me enjoy it the most. I will start with a basic description of the artwork. The Mérode Altarpiece is a triptych, or three part panel. In the left panel we see two people who are believed to be the donors for the artwork; the center panel shows the Annunciation; and the right panel shows Joseph at a work table. Interestingly enough the figure of the female donor and the figure present behind the …show more content…
The majority of the symbolism is religious symbolism due to the religious nature of the scene depicted. Joseph appears to be making a mouse trap, and this likely symbolizes the trap and defeat of the devil. A scroll and a book in front of Mary are said to represent the Old and New Testaments respectively. The lilies in the vase symbolize Mary’s virginity. The sixteen-sided table may represent the sixteen main Hebrew prophets. An interesting detail in the painting is that the décor and characteristics of the house present in the center panel seem to depict a house modern to the time it was painted and not what the house would look like in ancient times. This allowed the viewers to relate better to the painting and the scene within it. There are many other interesting and subtle details, but I will not list them all

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