Art Diary

Visualizing the Virgin Mary

7 October 2022

There are fewer than a dozen references to the Virgin Mary in the Bible, and yet visual representations of her have been central to the Christian faith for centuries. Drawing on a number of illuminated manuscripts, this show at the Getty Center in Los Angeles (11 October–8 January 2023) explores how her image evolved over the course of the Middle Ages, as medieval authors gradually fleshed out her biography to incorporate details of her childhood, adulthood and death and illustrators were called upon to realise these descriptions. The exhibition explores how Mary became a subject of popular devotion, with numerous images of Marian miracles, and the proliferation of icons (in one manuscript page included in the show, by the 15th-century Bedford Master, Saint Luke is depicting painting just such an icon). The show goes on to explore the veneration of the Virgin in the Americas, and its persistence long beyond the Middle Ages – in particular through the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, named for the location of the Marian apparitions which were thought to have occurred in Mexico City during the 16th century. The display includes the ornate panel Virgin of Guadalupe (1779) by the Mexican artist Sebastián Salcedo which depicts the Virgin Mary appearing to the peasant Juan Diego in 1531. Find out more on the Getty’s website.

Preview below | View Apollo’s Art Diary here

Saint Luke Painting an Image of the Virgin (c. 1440–50), Workshop of the Bedford Master. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Virgin of Guadalupe (1779), Sebastián Salcedo. Denver Art Museum

The Death of the Virgin and the Punishment of the Mockers (c. 1400–10), unknown artist

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