Madonna_Edvard Munch

This lithograph, Madonna, by the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863-1944) is in sharp contrast to da Vinci’s Madonna of the Rocks (c. 1483), painted more than 400 years earlier (see blog 86). One shows the Madonna in a sacred light, the other displays her as sexulised and profane, a femme fatale. It illustrates the hugh change that took place in the latter half of the 19th c. with the birth of the Modernist movement, as well as pointing to Munch’s troubled relationship with women.

The translation is from the original Gaelic in the CLAR publication Tro Chloich na Sùla.

Madonna (Lithograph) 1895-1902
(by Edvard Munch)

As far as black is from white,
As far as good is from scorn,
So far is this from the painting of the virgin
Who Da Vinci captured powerfully,

In the tender painting of the Madonna of the Rocks
And the two innocent babes;
Everything sacred as it ought to be
And putting evil to flight.

But here there is the femme fatale,
Not holy but meretricious,
Love and death in a hollow image
Which sends a shiver through the gentle.

Sex and death united,
And an evil foetus at the side
Like a little devil threatening death,
The cold hollow eyes of a demon,

The promise of a new age:
‘A new depravity will be born’;
Humanity will lose its form,
Everything will become contemptible.

And a red frame with sperm
Surrounds the femme fatale –
The flood of demons to come,
A devilish century, what a prediction!

A, you yourself were never married,
Women made you very anxious;
Your soul was greatly troubled,
Your children were your paintings, heartfelt.

Copyright 2014
Maoilios Caimbeul