FROM MADONNA TO MADONNA
Text topic: The Body Aesthetics in Christianity
Text author: Ана Самарџић
Rare images of pregnant women in art history have resulted in insufficient theoretical representation of this topic, which has only recently begun to be studied. The reasons behind rare images of pregnancy are multiple, such as secrecy from the public eye primarily due to the fear of miscarriage, death of the mother or the new-born in childbirth (because childbirth usually took place at home or in a private space, until the early twentieth century) as well as some religious and social attitudes towards pregnant women. Also, artists could easily edit their work by removing the painted belly if necessary, especially if it was a seated figure. This paper aims to show the images of pregnant women focusing on the Christian tradition. It brings together two symbolic figures through the motif of a pregnant woman: Madonna (Mother of God in the Western Christian tradition) as the central female figure of Christianity, and Madonna as a symbol of popular culture. Preserved examples that have changed the image of a pregnant woman throughout history are analysed chronologically. The body of a pregnant woman was observed in the past mainly through the dual attitude of Christianity towards the body, which made it problematic, but Christian references can also be found in the representations of pregnant women in the art and pop culture of today, with very developed symbolism.With the development of technology and medicine, the knowledge of the female body became deeper, while social changes led to new conceptions of pregnancy which then reflected in the visual culture. The development of technology and the phenomena of mass media and the social networks have enabled women today to create their own image of pregnancy.