The Virgin Crowned by Christ Child with Roses

Elisabetta Sirani1663

National Museums Liverpool

National Museums Liverpool
United Kingdom

This is a nearly exact preparatory study for the painting, described in 1678 by Sirani's biographer, mentor and admirer, Carlo Cesare Malvasia as "A Blessed Virgin half figure with the Child, which is in the act of placing a crown of roses on her head, she holding him seated on a cushion on her lap for Don Mario brother of the Pope." The painting is now in the National Museum of Women in the Arts, in Washington, D.C. When the painting was first exhibited in Bologna in 1663 it sparked great publicity and spurred Vincenzo Maria Marescalchi to publish a sonnet in Sirani's honour.

Sirani's fluid and bravura brushwork is used in this study to outline swiftly in wash the Virgin's bodice, sleeves and a turban, of the type worn by Bolognese peasant women, and to reinforce the affectionate facial expressions captured in red chalk. It is possible that the word 'fata' (Italian for done) may have been scribbled on the drawing by Sirani as a means of keeping track of her extensive output in her brief but celebrated career, cut short by her death aged twenty-seven.


  • Title: The Virgin Crowned by Christ Child with Roses
  • Creator: Elisabetta Sirani
  • Creator Lifespan: 1638/1665
  • Date Created: 1663
  • Location Created: Italy, Bologna
  • Physical Dimensions: 21 cm x 16.2 cm
  • Rights: Purchased from the Trustees of the Weld Heirlooms Settlement with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund, Sir Denis Mahon and British Nuclear Fuels in 1995
  • Medium: Paper; Red chalk and grey wash

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