The madonna of the kitchen is a term that is often used to describe the female figure who appears in many Renaissance paintings depicted as a domestic goddess. These paintings usually show her with an apron on, cooking or cleaning in the kitchen. But who was this, and what was her story? This article will explore three interpretations and discuss why she has become such an iconic figure.
The madonna of the kitchen was first mentioned in a book written by an Italian historian, Giorgio Vasari, in 1550. In his book, Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, Vasari briefly mentions a painting by Piero Della Francesca that depicts the madonna of the kitchen. While the painting itself is now lost, Vasari’s description provides insight into how it was originally envisioned.
“In a picture by Piero Della Francesca at Arezzo, in a room behind where Duke Federigo sleeps, is a most beautiful Madonna who seems to be coming out of a kitchen, with a dish in her hand, and behind her is a boy who is blowing on the fire to make it burn.”
From Vasari’s description, we can infer that it was originally intended to be a domestic scene depicting the Virgin Mary in a kitchen setting. However, over time, it has come to be associated with several interpretations.
This is is a complex and multi-faceted symbol that has been interpreted in various ways over the centuries. While its original intention was likely to depict the Virgin Mary in a domestic setting, the madonna of the kitchen has come to represent several different concepts, including motherhood, domesticity, and the ideal woman. Whatever its interpretation, it remains a popular and intriguing figure in art history.