This piece by Gaetano Previati—originally entitled "Madonna" was exhibited at the Second Brera Triennale in 1894 as a manifesto of the new language of Symbolism, which the Ferrara-born painter discovered during his trip to France in 1892. In "Madonna dei gigli," the tone is more markedly Catholic than in the ideal and spiritual celebration of this theme evident in "Maternità" (Maternity), the controversial canvas presented by Previati at the inaugural Triennale in 1891.
The work portrays a heavenly vision of the Madonna with the Baby Jesus in a field of lilies, a traditional symbol of innocence. The Divisionist techniques are given new religious and spiritual values, inspired by the pre-Raphaelites, as can be seen in the vibrant splashes of color that surround the Virgin's head like a halo.
While the brush strokes for the lilies tend to be vertical, the Virgin's garment is rendered with a contrasting horizontal effect.


  • Title: Madonna of the Lilies
  • Creator: Gaetano Previati
  • Creator Lifespan: 1852/1920
  • Date: 1893/1894
  • Physical Location: Galleria d'Arte Moderna di Milano
  • purchase: Italy
  • Physical Dimensions: w221 x h181 cm
  • Provenance: Purchase
  • Type: painting
  • Medium: oil on canvas

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