The 16th-century Protestant Reformation shattered the foundations of faith and art. As traditional theology was both besieged and defended, art had to adapt. Of course, a new theology needed new kinds of pictorial extrapolations. But truly, the most interesting change was hidden in plain sight. Subjects that may have looked familiar were in fact utterly new, because subversive ideas and contexts uprooted older meanings. The painting Madonna with Parrots (1533), by Hans Baldung Grien demoted the chaste protect…
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