So, you're going to the museum, and it's great. The guards check your bag to make sure you won't, I don't know, shoot a painting. You go up some fancy escalators, you see naked statues, and then it happens. You see a super ugly medieval baby.
Why did medieval babies look like ugly middle-aged men? I mean this baby looks like he wants to tell you that a boat is just a money pit.
It might seem like medieval artists were just bad at drawing, but it turns out that babies in medieval art are actually ugly for a reason. While there were breakthroughs in anatomy and perspective that happened later in the Renaissance, ugly medieval babies were an intentional choice before that time. If somebody told you to paint like Pablo Picasso, and you gave them Norman Rockwell, you'd have screwed up. And it was the same way for medieval artists working in churches in Italy. It's because most of these babies were depictions of Jesus and Mary. They were influenced by the idea of the homunculus, which is Latin for "little man." These babies looked like Benjamin Button because philosophers believed Jesus was born perfectly formed and unchanged. The adult Jesus was represented in the baby Jesus until the Renaissance, when everything changed.
這麼看來似乎中世紀的畫家不擅長繪畫，但其實中世紀藝術裡的寶寶長得醜是有原因的。儘管之後的文藝復興時期在解剖學和透視法上有所突破，但在那之前的中世紀寶寶們是故意被畫醜的。如果有人要你畫得像畢卡索，結果你畫給他們洛科威爾，你就完了。而當時在義大利教堂工作的藝術家們也是這樣。因為那時大多數的寶寶畫像都是在描繪耶穌跟瑪利亞。他們的外貌受到 homunculus 這個詞的影響，在拉丁文這個字的意思是「小矮人」。這些寶寶看起來像班傑明·巴頓是因為哲學家相信耶穌生來就已經發育完全並且外貌永不改變。成人耶穌的外貌呈現在寶寶耶穌的臉上，一直到了文藝復興時期，一切才有所改變。
Generally, we think of the Middle Ages as lasting from around the 5th to the 15th century, and it kind of overlapped the beginning of the Renaissance in the 14th century. Renaissance probably began in Florence, Italy, but it's important to note that it unfolded over centuries and countries in a time when everything moved slowly. So, it wasn't instant beautiful babies everywhere.
Still, the change in style did happen, and it happened for a couple of reasons. Suddenly, places like Florence were getting richer, and churches weren't the only places that could afford paintings. People could get their own babies painted, and they wanted them to look like cute, chubby babies, not homunculi.
And because the Renaissance was all about classics, they looked at Greek and Roman art, which was all about idealized forms that ditched the medieval abstraction for beauty and... Okay, who put that ugly baby there?
Anyway, the point is that after the Renaissance, cherubs didn't seem out of place, and neither did cuter pictures of Baby Jesus as the Renaissance spread through Europe. And it's kinda stayed that way since.
We want babies who look like they need their cheeks pinched, not their prostates checked. We want them chubby and cute, and we want babies that fit our ideals. Because those medieval babies, they have a face that only a mother could love.
- 「搞砸」- Screw Up
If somebody told you to paint like Pablo Picasso, and you gave them Norman Rockwell, you'd have screwed up.