Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ouroboros II: Doppelgängers or tricks of light and space?

We recently got a link from the New Moon Rites of Passage blog to Two Black Madonnas of Paris (Courting the Ancient Feminine Part II: Paris by "Kindle", about her visit to Notre Dame de Bonne Délivrance in Neuilly-sur-Seine).

Strange thing is that Kindle says "You may notice that the photo I took of this Black Madonna is NOT the same statue as the Black Madonna in the blog where I’d found her first. Similar, but not the same. Another mystery never to be solved."

I say "strange" because I think it is the same statue, merely a different angle!  I left a comment to clear up the mystery, but it's true that the lips in my shot seem to be redder.  Also, the niche behind her in my photo is decorated with war medals, whereas Kindle's is not.  This doesn't seem too mysterious to me, these things change depending on the season, but Kindle's right, it is kind of curious.

What do you think?

My initial photo of Notre Dame de Bonne Délivrance.
Kindle's photo.
A previously unpublished shot at a similar angle to that of Kindle's.

I think that the different angles distort the appearance of the statue and that the color differences are due to a different quality of camera.  Mine being a pretty cheap model that I'd given up for dead after my son tried to use it underwater....and obviously started working again.  Maybe it just brings out the colors in a wonky fashion as a result of its mishap, as one can see in the background color and the architectural elements.

I'd say the medals were ex-votos on temporary display (or had been permanent and then removed for some reason by the time Kindle took her photo).  Unless it's merely a camera issue, is it possible that the nuns she watches over had applied some makeup for the occasion?  I actually doubt that explanation, but I know that some Marian statues get a change of clothes according to the liturgical season, as a Google images search for Notre Dame de la Daurade demonstrates.

According to Virgin Mary Statues' 'Fashion' Displayed in Museum:

"Clothes were cut for all kinds of statues – from great icons in sanctuaries and the mannequins used in religious processions, down to the tiny statues of Mary worshiped in convents and household chapels," said Maximilien Durand, the show's curator and director of the Lyon Fabric Museum. "They were dressed like real women, like fashion icons, with real hair, wigs, even make-up." 

So while I still doubt Mary's got lipstick on, it wouldn't be entirely without precedent.

Of course, judging by reactions to a 2012 incident in Brooklyn, this old practice probably didn't include making up the Mother and Child to look like members of KISS....

Gene "The Virgin" Simmons and Paul "Baby Jesus" Stanley


  1. Yes, I think they are the same. It looks like the other blogger responded to your comment on her/his blog and has come to the same conclusion.

    This is actually a really well done statue. Funny to see how I hold my young child exactly the same way--i.e., it doesn't appear to be the most comfortable position (puts too much strain the bicep, as opposed to resting the child lower and on the hip), but it works well because it makes the legs more mobile.

    Whoever made this statue knew something real about the mechanics of carrying a child because this is not how a mother and child would pose -- it is how they would walk.

    Thanks for the posting!

  2. Yes, good point. I carried my kids the same way as well. I found this statue very endearing, tender if you will.


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