Depictions of our mother

For years, Mary the Mother of Christ has been a popular theme in artworks. Many statues, paintings and frescos have been created that depict Her in different ways. Each artist has a different way of looking at Our Mother and it can be shown in their artwork. Some show Mary at the young age She would have been when She conceived Jesus, while others show Mary at an older age. This gallery explores the different depictions in which Mary is shown. It will explore the different ways artists view Mary through the ages and why. (The artworks are arranged in order of the year they were created; from newest to oldest).

In the Virgin Mary of Mercy Mary is shown as a queen. She is dressed in jewels and wearing expensive clothing. A large golden crown is placed on Her head to show Her royalty. She has pearls around Her neck and big dangling earrings. Her gown is covered in red roses which is known as a sign of Mary. In her right hand Mary is holding a small staff that is often shown in the hands of a king or queen. In Her left arm She is holding Her Son, Jesus Christ who is holding the World in His hand to show that He is our Heavenly king on Earth and His Mother is our Queen. This work is very different from two of the other pieces. The pieces , Holy Family with Saints Anne, Catherine of Alexandria, and Mary Magdalene and The Man of Sorrows in the arms of the Virgin, depict Mary as an ordinary loving Mother holding Her Son. Mary is holding Her Son in the work, but She is more so shown as a Queen.
In the Madonna in Prayer, Mary is shown on Her own. Most pieces of Mary, She is shown holding Jesus as a baby or dying Jesus, being crowned Queen, or with other saints. Having Mary on Her own shows how honored She is and how important She is to people of faith. Mary has her hands folded in prayer and Her eyes are concentrated. Young Mary might be praying for the fate of Her Son or possibly praying for the souls that will come after Her. Mary is an example of how to live out faith. She is the Mother of God, but yet She still prayed. The piece itself is very simple; black and white. The simplicity of the piece suggests that Mary is human (in every way but sin).
In this sculpture, St. Mary of Victory (1716 – 1720), Mary is shown as a young mother holding her Beloved Son. Her flowing clothes and soft face give Her a gentle and tender feel. Her facial expression is warm and inviting. The golden sash that She wears in a sign of royalty. Like in the first painting, She is holding Jesus out a little showing Him to the World. She does not look at Her Child; it is as if She is offering Him to us. Her head is bent down in an act of prayer, maybe praying for us to accept Her Son. The title, St. Mary of Victory is a for shadow of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Mary knows that Her Son will be the one who saves the world from sin and will be victorious over death. Although the statue is old and warn, the beauty of Mary still stands out.
In The Madonna and Child (van Dyke, Sir Anthony) Mary is yet again shown holding her Beloved Son. However, this work is very different from the others in this gallery. Most of the artists show Mary either looking down in a prayer like fashion or Her look at Jesus, but in this work She is looking upwards. Mary looks peaceful and content. Her eyes are gazing towards Heaven as if to thank God for Her Child. Young Jesus is old enough to stand but not quite on His own. Mary has Her hands next to Him to support Him, to show us that She was Jesus main supporter His whole Life. There is a temple beside Her which suggests that they are at a temple. The brightest colors of the painting are on Mary (red and blue) making the viewers eye turn right to Her.
This painting by Nosadella from around the 1560s shows Mary holding Baby Jesus, and several important people by her side. The people at the top left of the painting are Joseph, the husband of Mary and earthly father of Jesus, and St. Anne who is Mary’s mother. Joseph is standing over Mary and Jesus as a shield of protection. Next to Mary is Mary Magdalen and Catherine Alexandria. The three women are awing over the baby as Joseph and Anne look as if they are arguing behind them. Also, off to the right side are two cherubs that look as if they are whispering to each other. This painting shows the reality of how people most likely reacted when Mary had Jesus as a Virgin. Some people, like Mary Magdalen and Catherine Alexandria were amazed by the presence of their Lord. Others gossiped about the events of young Mary’s life. Joseph had to put up with people criticizing him about having a pregnant fiancé. Mary is holding eye contact with her Son and is holding him up slightly to show Him to the others. Mary is shown young as she is believed to have been very young when she has Jesus.
This piece, Virgin Mary Crowned by Two Angels created by Albrecht Durer, is a black and white piece showing exactly what the title entails; Mary being crowned. Mary is shown as a young mother holding Her Son being crowned as Queen. She is sitting outside maybe in a garden with an old handmade fence suggesting that She was from a hardworking village. In her right hand She is holding an apple as a sign that She is the new Eve (See Genesis in the Bible). Mary’s facial expression looks as if She is worried or scared. She has a big responsibility to take on; raising the Son of God. But little Baby Jesus stretches His hand up towards Mary’s heart as if to comfort His mother. Mary is dressed in a long flowing gown. Placed on her head is a crown of roses, which are often a sign of The Blessed Mother.
In this work by Hans Memling, The Man of Sorrows in the arms of the Virgin, depicts and older Mary holding Her dying Son. Mary has bags under her eyes making Her look old and tired. Her eyes are not looking at Her bruised and beaten Son but downward in an act of prayer. Her hands are not holding Jesus up, Her right hand is on His side, comforting Him in His final hour. Mary is a lot taller than Jesus giving the feeling of a Mother standing over her son. Mary as tears streaming down Her face as She thinks of what Her beloved Son had to go through but She is not too sad because She knows what was done had to be done. This shows Mary in a very different way from Holy Family with Saints Anne, Catherine of Alexandria, and Mary Magdalene. In the other piece, Mary is shown at a very young age with Baby Jesus.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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