Open Arts Object: Giovanni Bellini, Madonna of the Meadow, c. 1500, National Gallery, London
What function did devotional images serve in the Renaissance?
In this short film, Leah Clark explains the role of devotional images in the Renaissance by exploring a well-known work by Giovanni Bellini. By looking closely at the painting, Leah discusses how the work can shed light on the cultural approaches to images in the Renaissance. Rather than a religious painting depicting a narrative or story from the Bible, this work functioned as a contemplative piece. Such images were used for devotion, but they were also integral to everyday life. The Madonna and Child became the most ubiquitous religious imagery in the Renaissance. Found in the home, such images would form the backdrop to the everyday activities of the family; mothers and expectant mothers could look on the Virgin as a model of piety, a good wife and mother, while children would look to Jesus as an example of good behaviour.