Saint Anne, the Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus

Unknown15th-16th centuries -

National Palace of Sintra

National Palace of Sintra
Sintra, Portugal

A high-relief sculpture with a hollowed back, representing Saint Anne, the Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus, who is depicted holding the terrestrial globe in his left hand and making a blessing gesture with his right hand. The Virgin Mary has her back to Saint Anne and is facing the Child Jesus, pointing towards him with her right hand. She is crowned, with her hair falling down her back to her waist.
This type of composition, presided over by the maternal figure of Saint Anne, and in which both the Virgin and Child are represented as children, is known in Germany as Anna Selbdritt. The cult of Saint Anne, who is considered to be a privileged mediator with the Divine Power, was extremely popular in the late Middle Ages in the western world and in Germany in particular, after Pope Sixtus IV instituted the feast of the Immaculate Conception (8 December) in 1476. This cult developed very rapidly in the late 15th century and gave rise to multiple representations of this type, although it also declined rapidly over the following century.


  • Title: Saint Anne, the Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: 15th-16th centuries -
  • Location: Southern Germany
  • Rights Information: National Palace of Sintra / Inês Ferro
  • Physical Dimensions: w36 x h99 cm
  • Photo: Escola Profissional de Imagem (EPI)-Curso de Fotografia/Rita Medori, Bárbara Lopes e Beatriz Oliveira/João Nogueira/Alexandre Santos, 2013.
  • Original Title (portuguese): Santa Ana, Maria e o Menino Jesus
  • Material(s) / Technique(s): High-relief on oak
  • Image Rights: © Palácio Nacional de Sintra / PSML
  • Type: Sculpture

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