I was struck by this painting today.
Obviously the central focus is the baby swallow. But there is no much more to it if you enlarge it and look at the detailing the back. For instance, notice how to the left of the baby's head is a hidden shepherd by the water, possibly John the Baptist. He is on the right side of the baby like a shepherd guide for the baby, at the level of the baby's brain (signifying knowledge) and he is resting directly underneath and propping up another tower. Then on the other side there is a boat with sail indicating travel and towers in far right distance signifying the Magdalene which means tower. One in particular seems to stand out alone and it is situated just above her left shoulder by the boat with the sail and the laurel both Cathar symbols. And so I have good reason to ponder if this is a portrayal of Mary Magdalene and not Mother Mary.
I also ran it by some of my sisters and a brother in France. Thanks to everyone who commented.
This is what else came up -
Birds are messengers and the swallow represents the resurrection in art as they reappear each year, and because of this they also represent time. Swallows are generally symbols of the feminine and in In Latin and latin languages the word Swallow is Feminine. (ie. Une Hirondelle). In art they are painted with the Madonna or Mother - and so this therefore symbolises the return or resurrection of feminine. To confirm this notice that the baby is holding the black bird in his left hand and the bird is facing towards his mother. Swallow is a migratory bird that feeds while flying (the word itself 'swallow' literally means to pass feed or drink) so in this way here if the swallow represents the food, then the swallow shows that the food is the Mother.
The swallow was also a symbol for the Mother Isis and in fact Isis was said to at times transform into a Swallow and fly about Osiris awaiting the return of the sun.
The Swallow is very positive in that a swallow nest near or on a house is also a sign of Good Luck. Swallows are generally used to represent Luck, Freedom, Happiness, Fertility, Loyalty, Fidelity, Purity, Endurance. They also announces Spring and are markers of the Spring Equinox, which is again about rebirth and resurrection, and the same time as the Celandine plant which is a plant used to get rid of warts. There is an old myth that 'Swallow babies are born blind. Once the Swallow feeds them Celandine, the babies can see'. Thus celandine represents truth and knowledge and being clear of any fakery or deception.
The baby thus holds clear true Knowledge his left hand on the side of the feminine against his mother’s heart and there is a lovely light above the swallows head on her heart in the blue dress. She can bring in the radiant healing and she is the cure.
The tail is shaped like a V of Victory, like the Peace hand sign. Each footprint is also shaped like the V sign. Interestingly her hand makes the shape of a V and her little finger is slightly pointing down to make a mini V too. There is the laurel tree protruding up to heaven from behind MM left shoulder. Laurel represents victory just like the swallow's tail shape.
There is much more to look at. For instance, I love her red cloak set against the fertile greens. It is definitely a fertile and happy painting and I do find it incredibly beautiful.