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Hortus Conclusus

garden medieval art sometimes

The term Hortus conclusus (“enclosed garden”) was taken from the Song of Solomon by medieval theologians who interpreted the reference as a prefigurative symbol of *Mary’s fruitfulness but perpetual virginity (like the “shut gate,” Porta clausa , through which only *God may enter, from the vision of *Ezekie). The symbolism was developed by numerous authors and gave rise, especially in later medieval art, to images of the *Madonna and Child seated within a lovely garden surrounded by walls or a fence. Abundant trees and flowers, especially roses and lilies may be indicated in the peaceful landscape setting. Sometimes a fountain (the “spring shut up,” “fountain sealed,” “well of living waters,” from the Song of Solomon and *angels are also represented. Mary may also be shown without the infant Jesus but accompanied in the garden by a unicorn, again a symbol of her purity . This image is sometimes conflated in late medieval art with scenes of the *Annunication; hence *Gabriel may also appear within or outside the garden enclosure.
Hoskyns, John (1566–1638) - BIOGRAPHY, MAJOR WORKS AND THEMES, CRITICAL RECEPTION [next] [back] Horsford, Anna Maria (1948–)

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