The Feeder Feed: Yes, another XPGF and The Eyes have it

At the Met in NYC you will see a Madonna and Child with Sts Philip and Agnes.


Herein is our little Savior with His Christological Goldfinch.



Those of you who are new here may wonder what in creation I am jabbering about. Just ask. The veteran readers will bring you up to speed.

BONUS: About that groovy necklace on our Lord. Red coral in this period often symbolizes the Passion to come. It resembles blood. But this element is also realistic: pieces of coral were strung about baby’s neck to help with teething.

In the meantime, I have posted before about the beautiful and recently restored Madonna and Child of Filippino Lippi.


Today I noticed, and I should have seen this before, how strikingly similar their eyes are, not just the harmony of the angles of their heads and gaze.



“Sure, Father,” you will say. “Painters tend to do eyes the same.”

Yes. But these could be mirror images.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Interesting how the Baby Jesus is pointing to the goldfinch while looking at His mother – it reminds one of the words of Simeon:

    And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother:
    “Behold this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel,
    and for a sign that is spoken against
    and a sword will pierce through your own soul also,
    that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed”.

    Luke 2:34-35

  2. TimG says:

    The state bird for Iowa is the American gold finch, we had one nest in an oak tree in our front yard this past summer and it certainly gives me pause to reflect on your insights to the images and relationship to Christ. God bless you!

  3. Priam1184 says:

    You’re right Father the eyes could be almost exactly the same, and yes Lippi knew exactly what he was doing there. Artists once upon a time paid such great attention to small details like that and used them to tell a story (in this case the greatest story ever told) on canvas. Alas, that is not the spirit of our own time.

  4. Vecchio di Londra says:

    I agree, they’re strikingly similar.
    By contrast, the fixed, intent gaze of the Virgin Mother sometimes depicts her with partly closed eyelids, almost as if in a rapt meditation. Two paintings I saw last week: and
    (Close-up facility at the right of the webpages)

  5. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Sorry: I meant to write “the fixed, intent gaze of the Virgin Mother is sometimes depicted with partly closed eyelids”

  6. NoraLee9 says:

    When I saw the borscht juxtaposed with the Chinese soup, I knew you were about our area. Oh Father, we are so blessed when you drop in.

  7. gracie says:

    I’m at the Met a lot in order to familiarize my granddaughter with the religious art works there. The majority of the paintings are in the 600 section, a group of about 30 rooms. Separate from the paintings themselves, what I see are people wandering through the rooms looking uncertain and even bewildered as to how to respond to these pictures. My impression is that many of them are so ignorant of Christianity that they don’t even recognize most of the figures or story lines anymore: they know these paintings have a relevance that they don’t get. It doesn’t help that the Met explains only the technical aspects of the works on their audio guides but then I guess they figure it’s not their job. Forty years ago they wouldn’t have had to, of course; most people knew the Bible stories but today it’s only a minority of museum goers who seem to. It would be a real service if someone knowledgeable in both religion and art could produce an audio guide providing the viewer with story lines of the religious paintings/sculptures as well as commenting on the artistic merits of the pieces. An online video version would be just super, too.

    Now let’s see . . . whom do we know that is qualified to do this? . . . Hmmmm . . . It has to be someone who knows the Catholic faith inside and out and also knows about hummingbirds and finches and red coral . . .

  8. danhorse says:

    Love the Fra Lippi painting. Both Jesus and Our Lady always gazing at, and directing us to, the very same thing. Thanks for posting the beautiful images, Father.

  9. lsclerkin says:

    Ok, everyone,
    This is one of the gazillion reasons I love our Faith.
    I don’t know about the goldfinch.
    Please, can anyone post some links so I can learn?
    As I try to do a Google search to try to find info to catch me up ?
    I just love love love things like this. And here is one more wonderful thing I’ve not heard of.

  10. Suburbanbanshee says:

    There are a bunch of stories, but one is that the goldfinch eats thorns and thistles. There’s even an old story that a goldfinch helpfully tried to eat the thorns off Christ’s crown of thorns, trying so hard that he cut himself on the thorns; and that’s why the European goldfinch has red marks on his head. So Baby Jesus is often shown holding (or clutching hard, as babies are prone to do) a goldfinch or looking at one; he’s a symbol of both the Passion and of the little creatures loving Jesus for coming to save fallen Creation.

  11. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Isclerkin – try the posts on these pages of Fr Z’s blog (including ‘older posts’)

    Also: (particularly the final section)

    Hope that helps!

  12. Supertradmum says:

    Jesus would have looked like His Mother…and perhaps had “her eyes”.

  13. Giuseppe says:

    Correct. He might have inherited a number of characteristics from her.
    This painting shows that Jesus didn’t somehow just pop up onto earth.
    He was the natural-born son of Mary, the new Eve.

  14. Mr. Green says:

    And presumably it also shows that Mary looked at the world through Jesus’s eyes.

  15. Mariana2 says:

    Oh, he knew exactly what he was doing, the eyes are wonderful!

  16. lsclerkin says:

    Vecchio di Londra

    Thank you thank you !
    It helps!
    I am learning.
    And am smiling from ear to ear :)

Comments are closed.