Deb and I visited Bruges, Belgium, in 2008 and among the many things we saw there was this serene statue in the Church of Our Lady. The sculpture, known as the Bruges Madonna, is by Michelangelo and is the only completed work by the master to find its way out of Italy. The sculpture is one of the “stars” of “The Monuments Men” movie, which Deb and I saw recently. The sculpture was stolen by the Nazis during WWII and a man gave his life in this very church trying to defend it the night it was wrapped in a mattress and secreted off to a mine hundreds of miles away from Bruges.
The thing that struck me about this beautiful work is that on the morning we visited the church, there were less than 10 of us quietly admiring it. This contrasts starkly to the most famous work by Michelangelo, the “Pieta” in St. Peter’s Basillica in Rome, which is usually surrounded by hundreds of elbowing tourists and pilgrims. Along with all of that, the “Pieta” is protected by thick, bullet-proof glass.
I would rather experience art in quiet and intimate surroundings. On this morning in the Church of Our Lady the only sounds were respectful whispers, quiet footsteps and the sputtering flames of votive candles. Mary and the baby Jesus were silent and serene.
*Based on the book The Monuments Men by Robert Edsel
Canon 5D 1/80s f/1.6 ISO400 50mm (Canon 50mm 1.2 L lens)