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May is the month of Mary, a time of new growth and a return to life fitting for the New Eve. Blessed John Henry Newman spoke of how nature itself bears witness to the joy we find in Our Lady:
Why is May chosen as the month in which we exercise a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin? The first reason is because it is the time when the earth bursts forth into its fresh foliage and its green grass after the stern frost and snow of winter, and the raw atmosphere and the wild wind and rain of the early spring. It is because the blossoms are upon the trees and the flowers are in the gardens. It is because the days have got long, and the sun rises early and sets late. For such gladness and joyousness of external Nature is a fit attendant on our devotion to her who is the Mystical Rose and the House of Gold.
Way - Mary - Beauty - Relation - Spring
One traditional way of expressing Mary’s beauty in relation to spring can be found in the Flemish tradition of garland painting. Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568-1625) produced the first image of Our Lady framed in garlands. His garland contained an opening for a set-in image painted on copper. Building upon that idea, he also collaborated with Rubens (left) on another version containing the image of Our Lady within the painting itself (with Rubens painting the figures). The garland creates a frame within the frame, while the image of Our Lady itself is portrayed as a free standing painting set within a landscape. The painting combines a still life, landscape, and figure painting. Subsequent garland paintings served to frame portraits and even mirrors, but eventually birthed a new genre used in many creative ways.
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