Inspired through Art: Mary and the Burning Bush by Nicholas Froment, 1476

Authored by Linus Meldrum in Issue #3.1 of The Catechetical Review

King René of Anjou, a fifteenth century nobleman, commissioned the French Renaissance painter, Nicholas Froment, to complete an image of the Virgin Mary for the Carmelite Church at Aix-en-Provence in southern France. The king requested that the triptych include two side panels depicting himself and his wife Jeanne de Laval, which would accompany the center panel of the Virgin. The center panel is a complex narrative that features Mary as the subject. It provides us with a rich set of visual experiences that help us to know not only who Mary is—as a literal person—but also how deeply the medieval theologians cultured encouragement toward devotion to Mary. Nicholas was commissioned to select the relationship of Mary to the Burning Bush encountered by Moses on Mount Horeb, the mountain of God in chapter three of the book of Exodus.
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The history of art also gives examples. Here in this image of Mary, present at the encounter of Moses, is an angel and God on Mount Horeb. The artist is relying on typology to make a connection between the bush, supernaturally preserved from losing its identity as a living piece of nature and Mary as the Virgin, preserved in her virginity while still being Mary, Theotokos—the bearer of God.

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This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting editor@catechetics.com

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