This South German wood sculpture of The Holy Kinship strikes me as absolutely wonderful. The fact that one can get so close to it, via Google AP, adds greatly to one's pleasure.
How to make sense of all the figures? It's actually fairly simple. Try these three steps:
1: Mary and Anne, her mother, are in the center with the infant Jesus. Flanking them are Anne's other two daughters, Mary Salome and Mary Cleophas, born
to two subsequent marriages.
2: Behind each woman stands her husband. In Anne's case, there are three husbands.
3: Gathered at their feet are six small boys, the cousins who became Jesus' disciples: - Mary Salome's two sons: St. James the Greater
and John the Evangelist;
- Mary Cleophas' four sons: St. James Minor, Judas
Thaddeus, Simon, and Joseph the Just. The last is riding a hobby horse and reaches up to steady himself with his mother's hand.
It is wonderful how well the artist's colors have held up over the past seven centuries, such that we can still enjoy them today.
Medieval German wood sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider has long been a favorite of mine. Even so, I was unfamiliar with this sculptured altarpiece which Riemenschneider and his workshop carved in, probably, the early 1500s. The main figures are: St. Sebastian, Emperor Henry II, and St. Stephanus. The altarpiece is in Bamberg Cathedral, Germany, where it is seen by thousands of tourists each year.
I've been doing some research on Florence, Italy, and my attention is naturally drawn again and again to the Baptistery eastern doors fashioned by Lorenzo Ghiberti in the early 1400s. The doors as a whole command one's attention. Only by examining them one by one, though, can we really appreciate their artistry, their sheer mastery. From top to bottom, and left to right, the ten scenes are as follows:
Two additional sets of photos are at Mary Ann Sullivan's site. One set provides close-ups of the facsimile doors which are today actually on the Baptistery. Another set shows the original doors.
If you become as entranced as I am by the doors, you can download and view the extraordinary 10.8 MB version of these bronze doors at Wikipedia. It shows not only the bronze plaques, but also all the surrounding figures and other decoration.
The Detroit Institute of Arts site has a wonderful zoom feature that enables you to get quite close to any given work of art. Try it on the excellent Arenburg Lamentation, ca. 1460, by an unknown Flemish master (oak with traces of polychromy).