A Brief History of Modesty

Walking through the Louvre the other day, I was struck by how different the Greek and Roman sculpture exhibits are from those of the medieval period.  In the latter, chastity and motherhood are celebrated instead of the purely sensual.

Virgin of the Annunciation (?) – D’apres Mino da Fiesole (?) Papiano, Palagio fiorentino, 1429 – Florence, 1483 (Courtesy of the Louvre R.F.588)

The symbols and representational artwork of natural religion have remained constant through the ages.  They may be expressed spectacularly in Greek sculpture or Renaissance art, or they may be depicted crudely on primitive tribal masks or on MTV, but they draw from the same well.

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