The Feeder Feed: tortured dove edition

I am at the Metropolitan Museum in NYC, before a painting by Rubens (+1640) of the Holy Family with Sts John, Elizabeth, and a dove.

Rubens has returned from some time in Italy, which affected his colors and composition, and probably the theme.


The dove in question seems to be a matter of contention which the Lord is winning. Probably to the dove’s relief, I’ll add.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Charles E Flynn says:

    Here is another good reason to be at the Met:

    Getting Personal, by Ken Johnson, about the exhibition “The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini.”

  2. Supertradmum says:

    Is there some symbolism in the fact that Christ is taking the Spirit from John? Decrease..increase? Or am I reading too much into two very young Ones playing with a dove? Just wondering…

    The colors are fantastic.

  3. Eric says:

    St. Elizabeth ain’t lookin’ too good.

  4. Finarfin says:

    I like the look of the dove. Just like real doves, they have a very gentle demeanor, as well as being easily frightened.

  5. APX says:

    How can Jesus be blonde if Mary is brunette?? Blonde hair is a recessive gene!

  6. AnAmericanMother says:

    Happens all the time. Recessive genes are masked by the dominant, so all that means is that Our Blessed Mother was a brunette (dominant) carrying the gene for blond hair (recessive). I will not speculate about the other side of the family . . . :-o

    We see the same thing in Labrador Retrievers — two Black Lab parents can have Yellow Lab puppies if each parent is carrying the (recessive) gene for the yellow coat. My Black Lab female is what we call “Tri Factored” – she carries the genes for Black, Yellow, and Chocolate, and can throw any of those or all three, depending on who she is bred to. But Yellow to Yellow gets only Yellow.

  7. Elizabeth D says:

    Naughty little Forerunner! You desire the Holy Spirit but then you pull His feathers out, though you know not what you are doing! That’s original sin for you! Our Lord, Mercy Incarnate, smiles at you anyway!

  8. Joan M says:

    It is quite possible that Jesus had blond hair as a baby, and it turned brown as he grew.

    I am one of those people who started life with blond hair, but as life progressed, my hair became dark brown, with copper highlights. My mother had dark brown hair, and my father had copper red hair.

  9. Supertradmum says:

    My son was a tow-head, now his hair is red, and I had, until recently, very dark brown, almost black, hair. Anything is possible. Jesus could have had blue eyes as well, as some Jews from the northern parts of the Middle East have blue eyes.

    Elizabeth D,

    St. John was born without Original Sin.

  10. Gail F says:

    St. Elizabeth looks SCARY!!!!

  11. irishgirl says:

    Gail F-it’s probably because St. Elizabeth was OLDER than Our Lady that she looks ‘scary’.
    Poor little dove-it looks terrified!
    I’ve never seen this painting of Rubens before….

  12. Elizabeth D says:

    Supertradmum, I believe St John Baptist was the greatest man ever born of woman, and there was a miraculous aspect, but not aware of any doctrine that he was without original sin. Am I wrong? He hurt a poor dove quite unnecessarily (no I am not really holding him accountable for what somebody painted him doing)!

  13. Elizabeth: There is a tradition that John was forgiven Original before his birth, at the moment when, at the sound of Mary’s voice and the proximity of the unborn Jesus, John stirred in his mother’s womb.

  14. digdigby says:

    There is a swirling, vibrant ‘something’ in pure Baroque that eludes me – it is as though we have lost the eyes with which to see what is there. I am not speaking of some arcane iconography. As Philip Rieff believed, the Baroque produced composite works of art that expressed an essentially unitary vision of Man as a creature of God.

  15. Elizabeth D says:

    Well all right, but I wouldn’t want to be the one to break it to the Protestants! ;-)

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