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MARIAN ART

Art is a powerful form of expression and can be used to inspire, communicate and even educate. Our lives would be dull without the gift of art, and this applies to our spiritual lives as well.

Mother Mary has inspired artworks for centuries. Marian art has not only been stunning, but has also depicted important theological truths. Therefore, the artworks can be devotional, and they can also be sources of inspiration and understanding.

Below are some examples of Marian art. There are soooooo many more pieces which could have been included, but our team hopes that this 'taster collection' sparks your desire to research further.

Marian Art: News
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Fresco in catacombs of Priscilla

Possibly the earliest known image of the Virgin Mary, dated about 150CE.

Marian Art: Image
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'Pointer of the Way' Icon

This style is associated with Mary's words at the wedding feast of Cana, "Do whatever He tells you." The mother points to her child as if to say, look at Him, not me.

Marian Art: Image
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Madonna and Child

Painted by Giovanni Bellini, c1500.
This style of artwork is devotional rather than narrative and shows Mary in a non-historical context. These paintings usually emphasize doctrinal or sentimental significance and, in this case, focuses on Mary as the Mother of God.

Marian Art: Image
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The Immaculate Conception

Painted by Diego Velazquez, 1618.

"In this loveliest of mysteries Our Lady should be painted as a beautiful young girl, 12 or 13 years old, in the flower of her youth...  She should be painted wearing a white tunic and a blue mantle... She is surrounded by the sun, an oval sun of white and ochre, which sweetly blends into the sky. Rays of light emanate from her head, around which is a ring of twelve stars. An imperial crown adorns her head, without, however, hiding the stars..." 

Marian Art: Image
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La Pieta

Marble sculpture by Michelangelo.
The scene of the Pieta shows the Virgin Mary holding the dead body of Christ after his crucifixion, death, and removal from the cross, but before he was placed in the tomb.  This is one of the key events from the life of the Virgin, known as the Seven Sorrows of Mary. In her utter sadness  and devastation, Mary seems resigned to what has happened, and becomes enveloped in graceful acceptance.

Marian Art: Image
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The Assumption

Oil painting by Italian Renaissance artist Titian, 1518.
This depicts the Catholic doctrine that the body of the Virgin Mary was "assumed" (moved physically in to Heaven) "at the end of her earthly life,"

Marian Art: Image
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The Coronation of the Virgin

Oil on wood panel by Raphael and collaborators, 1525.

The lower section depicts a scene reported by Juvenal in John Damascene's "Third Oration on the Dormition": Three days after laying Mary in the sepulcher, the Apostles "desired to venerate the body that had borne God; and they opened the little tomb. But no trace of her all-blessed body could be found; and taking the winding-sheets, which were filled with fragrance, they closed the tomb" The flowers in the painting represent the fragrance. Above, Christ crowns his mother under the aegis of the Holy Spirit.

Marian Art: Image
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Our Lady of Guadalupe

This image miraculously appeared on the cloak of a peasant named Juan Diego in 1531. It is still on display in Mexico and has continued to amaze (and baffle!) those who study it.

Marian Art: Image
Marian Art: Text
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