The Virgin of Sorrows (La Dolorosa)

c. 1650–1750

Dallas Museum of Art

Dallas Museum of Art

The elaborate decoration of this statue of the Virgin Mary, mother of Christ—including the painstaking estofado technique of applying gold and silver leaf on her mantle in layers over the paint—testifies to the importance of statues such as this as tools of worship for the Catholic churches in the New World. From the Renaissance onward, the Virgin Mary became a figure of special importance, particularly in her role as the Virgin of Sorrows (La Dolorosa).

The Virgin’s heaven-cast eyes, clasped hands, and mournful expression relate to the Seven Sorrows of her life: the prophecy of Simeon that Christ would be sacrificed for humanity, the Flight into Egypt, the temporary loss of Christ as a child in Jerusalem, the Road to Calvary, and the Crucifixion, Deposition, and Burial of Christ. First emphasized in 1239, the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of Mary soon spread throughout Europe and into the Spanish dominions of the New World.

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  • Title: The Virgin of Sorrows (La Dolorosa)
  • Date Created: c. 1650–1750
  • Physical Dimensions: Overall: 33 1/2 x 18 1/4 x 10 in. (85.09 x 46.35 x 25.4 cm)
  • Type: Sculpture
  • External Link: https://www.dma.org/object/artwork/4009659/
  • Medium: Wood, paint, glass, ivory, and gilding
  • Credit Line: Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Beatrice M. Haggerty