Virgin Spanking the Christ Child (1926)
By Max Ernst
The theological implications of such an image would be profound would we want to take this painting serious. Are we to believe the infant Jesus has committed a "naughty" act (Did he write on the wall with his crayons? Or was it a broken lamp from rough-housing in the living-room?) which demands a maternal spank on the behind. Perhaps this is the act of a mother who at wits end abuses her child? Surely the former as opposed to the latter considering the Virgin maintains her halo, which is more one can say about the infant Jesus. (Note the halo laying on the floor to the side of Mary.) The pinkish hue Ernst washes on the buttocks implies this isnt the first but rather the third or fourth smack the child has endured. To the side, we see peering through the window the painter himself accompanied by Andre Breton and Paul Eluard. What would Giotto have thought!