Over the weekend I was introduced to the long-needed blog Ugly Renaissance Babies (thanks to Sarah Bailey Hogarty for recommending). Visiting the site, you’ll encounter some of the strangest looking babies ever. Scouring my archives of potential WTF material, I came across a photo I took at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore (@walters_museum) that I simply titled “WTF baby Jesus face, Baltimore.” I think it’s probably the ugliest Renaissance baby.
Bernardino di Mariotto, Madonna and Child, 1498-1566 (so ugly they can’t properly date it), oil on panel with pastiglia (that’s not a disease but refers to the raised brooch that the Virgin Mary wears). Walters Art Museum, Baltimore
The painting is SO ugly in fact that I couldn’t even find it on the Walter’s website! Let me qualify that statement (because I know some cheeky reader would go out and find it there). The painting didn’t come up when I searched “Bernardino di Mariotto” (that’s chill, paintings get reattributed), nor did it come up with a match when I entered “pastiglia” (how many panel paintings can you name with pastiglia in the Walters Art Museum? Answer: one, apparently). Of course, when looking for “Madonna and Child” you get 77,000 results, which I did not bother to sort through. Even a search for “goldfinch” was useless. Fortunately, I took a pic of the gallery label when I last visited Baltimore and, for what it’s worth, can confirm the painting’s provenance (past collection history): it was acquired by Henry Walters with the Massarenti collection in 1902. So there you go, you can’t hide lil’ ugly baby Jesus painting! :)
A quick note about the painter: he was inspired by Carlo Crivelli, another master of ugly Renaissance babies. Just saying…