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THE JOYFUL COPTIC MADONNA AND THE CHILD – GENIUS OF CHRISTIAN ART

January 22, 2012

In his documentary “Art of Eternity – Painting Paradise”, the art historian and critic, Andrew Graham-Dixon, spoke about the Coptic Madonna and the Child image he saw at the Church of Saint Antony the Great, at his monastery, in the eastern desert, Egypt. He was mesmerised by its beauty. Here is a clip from his documentary that shows that part:

In the BBC4 documentary, Graham-Dixon says: “I have never seen a Madonna like that. It has an extraordinary face like the faces painted by Picasso. Everything is circular … and she is also full of joy.” Again in his website, he writes that the: “Madonna and Child (are) painted in a style of such almost abstracted power and force that it resembles nothing so much as a late Picasso (who himself looked back to the art of earlier periods for inspiration, but could never have known this particular image)”.

I tried to find a still image of this joyful Coptic Madonna and the Child, which forms part of the fascinating Coptic wall paintings from the 13th century that have recently been restored, but could not find good one. The only image that is available seems to be protected and cannot easily be reproduced.

The Joyful Coptic Madonna and the Child 2

Fortunately the Coptic artist who painted these wonderful Christian images has another painting of the Madonna and the Child – and this I could get a better image of, and enlarge it for the benefit of my readers. I call it the “Joyful Coptic Madonna and the Child 2″[i] to distinguish it from the “Joyful Coptic Madonna and the Child 1″[ii] which we have seen in Graham-Dixon’s documentary. As the reader will see, this second version differs from the first version to some degree, but it still retains the same beauty and genius of the first masterpiece. I have reproduced it above.


[i] For the position of this Joyful Coptic Madonna 2 in the historical Church of Saint Antony, see the following images:

[ii] For the position of this Joyful Coptic Madonna 1 in the historical Church, see the following images:

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