Images of the Virgin Mary: a fleet-footed online tour of the collections

The present series, to which a new text will be added every two weeks, takes what may seem a rather contemporary approach: works of art are presented from the point of view of the person portrayed—the Virgin Mary.
We would like to provide a gentle note of reminder: sympathetic identification with the protagonist was the original purpose of precious votive paintings, long before such works came to be exhibited in museums in the 19th century.

Pleasant and lovely

Tilmann Riemenschneider, Virgin with Child, c. 1500, KHM, Inv. no. KK 8899

I miss the great, broad nave, my entourage, now absent, that was assembled on our altar, the frequent scent of frankincense and the warm candlelight, the sunshine cast through the coloured windows, and the women, men, and children, who conversed, played, prayed, and conducted business at my feet.

I have been torn from my surroundings.

I saw who entered the confession boxes, and who took pains to avoid them, for I stood directly before them. Never did I fear that my son might slip from my arms. He is a well-behaved child. The fingers of his left hand gently clasp a soft fold of cloth; his right hand rests upon his knee. Elegant and harmonious does our relationship appear.

We show our affection but furtively. I do not look at him; our bond is detached from measurable time.

Can you see the crescent moon that rises beneath my feet?

John the Evangelist once had a vision of a woman heavy with child standing upon the planet, clothed in the sun—hence my golden gown—and surrounded by stars.

She struggled with both the pains of labour and the serpent who threatened to devour the newborn child.

But the child was born unharmed, and before the beast could reach him, he took possession of his divine throne.

And though I stand before you here in splendour as the queen of heaven, softly I do I fear.

I know of the agony and trials that Jesus will suffer for you. I will receive his tormented corpse in the shadow of the cross.

written by written by Cäcilia Bischoff, translated by Joshua Stein on 19.9.2017 in #Marienbilder
to top