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The Sketchiest Baby Jesus in the History of Ever

With over 300,000 square feet devoted to the display of art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston has a lot to see, and the curators often seem to go out of their way to hide the good stuff. 

Case in point: Tucked away upstairs in the Audrey Jones Beck Building, in the Carol Clark Tatkon Gallery, is the museum’s crown jewel, a must-see for every one of the MFAH’s 2.5 million yearly visitors.

That’s right, I’m talking about Joos van Cleve’s The Holy Family, which features the sketchiest baby Jesus in the history of ever.

Just look at Him.

Now I’m sure we’ve all seen plenty of versions of Madonna col Bambino; every city’s fine arts museum is required to have at least ten of these suckers. But I ask, have you ever seen a sketchier Bambino?

Just look at Him.

Mary’s boob is nothing new. Sure, this one is nice, even if it’s probably way fairer than hers would’ve been in the real world. Van Cleve worked in Antwerp, so he might’ve only known Low Country breasts. But we’re getting distracted. We’re not here to talk about people crafting gods in their own image. Xenopanes figured that out 2,500 years ago. We’re here to talk about the sketchiest baby Jesus in the history of ever.

Just look at Him. Hand on tit. Grabbing a little bit of her bling. Head cocked toward us. He’s making direct eye contact, just like you wouldn’t want a friend to do in an orgy. His lips are parted with a smirk that says “Awwww, yeah.”

This baby Jesus is a fucking player.

Even Joseph knows something is up. Stepdaddy is hanging out in the back, looking all old, lest we think he could actually get it up for Mary, who has to be a virgin forever in our minds. He’s glancing askew at the Son, wondering just what that little Dude is up to. “Is He feeling up my wife and gloating about it? That little Kid has got some nerve.”

Yep. The sketchiest baby Jesus in the history of ever.

This painting is not without formal and thematic problems. Mary’s fingers are all crazy looking and the perspective is off, as you’d expect from something painted in the early 1500s. That perfectly bound book in Joseph’s hand is clearly a gift from a time traveler. And the red flower in Mary’s hand is nowhere near as cool as this one. But none of that matters, because that baby Jesus is so sketchy, so cocky, so damn lewd, that there’s no way any visit to the MFAH would be complete without stopping by to check Him out.

Baby Jesus, you’re the Man.

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26 Responses

  1. Asshole

    Actually the sentiment of the Baby Jesus is disconnected from the moral code of the time, therefore it re-enforces his status as wholly separate from the sentient world of goo.

  2. bruce

    Moral code of the time? Didn’t ‘the church’ invent right and wrong? There was a good reason those monkey researchers hid the fact that monkey mothers were eating their own infants and their neighbor’s infants too. Not nice behavior doesn’t film well or fill coffers. Oh wait!! I forgot all about the porn industry. Scratch that line of thought altogether.

  3. bruce

    no mention of the knife and half ‘grapefruit’ that almost exactly mirrors Mary’s boob. (I’m afraid to even Google the image of Jesus’ boy parts for fear of laughing until I cry.)

  4. Trungpa Ricochet

    VATICAN CITY–When freelance writer David Farley first visited Calcata, Italy, five years back, he figured it would make for a colourful article for a travel magazine.

    But Calcata’s most remarkable attraction – and the subject of a book that Farley is now writing – turned out to be something no longer there: the supposed foreskin of Jesus Christ.

    For more than four centuries, the “Holy Prepuce” had been the city’s treasure, kept behind bronze doors over the altar in the Church of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. It was displayed every year on Jan. 1, the Feast of the Holy Circumcision.

    At one time, pilgrims who came to venerate it were rewarded with an indulgence that cut 10 years from purgatory.

    To believers in Jesus’ Resurrection, Farley notes, the foreskin is “one of the only conceivable parts of his body that he could have left on earth.”

    Legend holds that the Emperor Charlemagne received the object from an angel, then gave it to Pope Leo III in the year 800. It supposedly remained in the papal collection until the early 16th century, when a looting German soldier brought it to Calcata.

    At one point in the Middle Ages, Farley says, there were as many as 18 putative Holy Foreskins in various monasteries and towns in Europe, most of them in France.

    By the 20th century, all but one had quietly disappeared.

    The specimen in Calcata finally vanished in 1983,

    Silence is in fact the church’s official policy on the subject, Farley says. He speaks of Vatican decrees from 1900 and 1954 that he says threaten excommunication of anyone who writes or speaks the relic’s name, in order to discourage “irreverent curiosity.”

    But even if the Holy Prepuce is not gone for good, Farley thinks it’s unlikely to be held up again as an object of veneration.

    “I think most people would agree that it won’t do the church any good to get publicity” of that kind, he said.

    “Most people still snicker about it.”

  5. Asshole

    Of course you’re not going to catch a film like Black Snake Moan in theaters. Why would you? You have to save your pennies for the summertime, when the sequels are dumped out into the alley for you to gnaw on. Then, after you have enjoyed your effete pirate adventure or racist motorcycle comedy, you can check out the new PDA covers at the Verizon store, hit Chili’s for a few discount margaritas, and head home in time to watch “Cold Case,” which you shrewdly TiVoed. If you play your cards right, there won’t be a single time this season that you are left out of a water-cooler conversation or made to ponder the meaning of a Leno joke. Movies like Black Snake and The Lookout will soon be made extinct, of course, as will unironic T-shirts and fistfighting. But in your cozy, simple world, not unlike a dog’s, those things will barely register. As long as you can still sneak a half-caf latte into Shrek 4, you and Hollywood have an understanding.

  6. bruce

    Dog’s world’s are anything but simple. But how would you know? Most cat people I know are hopeless snobs in need of no one. Maybe that person is tired of being disappointed . I known I am. I like being somewhat ‘needed’.
    Off to buy ‘Vita’ extra hot horse radish, garlic and free range eggs for breakfast tomorrow. Maybe(very probably) you aren’t speaking to me. But I always take it that way. I drink at home. You know that.

    I wouldn’t live in New York for all the rice in China.

  7. bruce

    Dog’s worlds are anything but simple. But how would you know? Most of the cat people I know are hopeless snobs in need of no one. Maybe that person is tired of being disappointed. I known I am. I like being needed.
    Off to buy ‘Vita’ extra hot horseradish, fresh garlic and free range eggs for breakfast tomorrow. Maybe you aren’t actually speaking to me. But I always take it that way. But you know that.

    I wouldn’t live in New York for all the tea either

  8. bruce

    Oh Roy,
    Any chance you want to ‘interpret’ that knife and the severed fruit?
    I’m betting not.
    (Please call someone, most likely some underpaid assistant to someone who should know, but who won’t answer your phone calls) at the museum and please, please let US ALL know.

  9. bruce

    “After a conviction, convicts often become prisoners.”
    Who are they kidding? We’re (all of us) prisoners long before that.
    I think that knife and cut fruit means babies are a pain in the ass, no matter who the father is.

    (I wish you wouldn’t block my emails. We could say all this in private.)

  10. bruce

    Someone blocked them. I haven’t been able to talk too you in over a year. Try as i might. They all get bounced back to me saying you no longer want to talk to me. Not that I blame you.

  11. bruce

    to you
    They told me you blocked me. (again, not that I blame you.) But that knife cut deep.
    You didn’t block me?
    Don’t lie. I can’t stand a liar. A cheat and a thief, maybe, but not a liar.

  12. bruce

    One day Horton the elephant hears a tiny voice calling from a clover flower drifting on the wind, and realises that the flower contains a speck of dust, which in turn contains an entire civilisation, whose most brilliant but derided scientist is trying to communicate with the outside world. Unfortunately Horton’s jungle companions deem him as mad as the Who scientist, and shun him, threatening both his existence and that of the Whos.

    (I’m not entirely above kicking the living shit out of your overweight alter ego if he did this. We weigh about the same now.)

  13. bruce

    OK. He didn’t. It was all my fault.
    I can’t seem to help but screwing things up.
    Wishful thinking, some would say.

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