Friday, August 18, 2017

Saint Rose of Lima, The First American Saint

Claudio Coello, St. Rose of Lima
Spanish, 1683
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado
In 1492 Columbus “sailed the ocean blue”, as everyone used to know.  Sailing west from Spain his three small ships bumped into the islands of the Caribbean.  They went ashore, met people whom they thought resembled the people of India, took some samples and sailed home again, thus becoming the first European ships to clearly record the existence of lands to the west of Europe and Africa and make it home again.1   

Three more voyages by Columbus followed, during which the immensity of the find became obvious.  More and more people and nations set sail, eager to carve out new territories for themselves to turn to profit and within 150 years there were little colonies scattered up and down the coasts and penetrating the interiors of what was now known as North, South and Central America.  But, the first country to do this and thus to gain the largest land area was Spain, whose queen in 1492, Isabella of Castille, had backed Columbus’ first voyage.  Spain held this huge section of the earth (with the exception of Brazil, which was claimed by the Portuguese) for more or less 300 years, losing colony after colony throughout the 19th century.

The earliest Spanish colonies were on the Caribbean Islands, especially Cuba, Santo Domingo and Puerto Rico.  From there they moved out to Mexico and the lands to the west, south and north.  In the United States we don’t think about this part of our country’s history too much, but the states of Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California and the territory of Puerto Rico are areas originally explored and settled by Spain and held for many years by that country. 




The richest of Spain’s colonies was probably Peru, center of the great Inca Empire (as Mexico had been the center of the Aztecs) and source of gold.  The Incas were defeated by Pizarro in 1532, just 40 years after the first contact and the viceroyalty of Peru was established.  In 1535 the Spanish viceregal capital was established in Lima to break administrative ties with the old Inca capital of Cuzco. 


Bartolome Esteban Murillo, St. Rose of Lima
Spanish, c. 1660
Madrid, Museo Lazaro Galdiano
Fifty-one years later, in 1586, a baby girl was born in Lima to Gaspar Flores, a Spanish-born arquebusier who came to Peru via Puerto Rico and his Peruvian-born wife, Maria de Oliva y Herrera.  The baby was baptized with the name, Isabel.  She was so pretty that she was nicknamed Rose because her nursemaid compared her to a rose.  It seems astonishing that, a mere 50 years from the founding of Lima, she was to grow up in what amounted to a very European environment.  She was confirmed in 1597, when she took the name Rose as her confirmation name.  From then on she was known primarily as Rosa Flores. 2

Harry Clarke, Saint Rose of Lima Burning Her Hands\
in Penance
Irish, c. 1925
Ballinasloe (Galway, IE), Church of St. Michael


During her teenage years she became aware of Saint Catherine of Siena, one of the most well-known of medieval female saints, whose austerities and works of reparational penance and prayer were widely known.3 Rose took Catherine as her model and from this point, modeled her own life very closely on that of Catherine.  She too undertook austerities and penances that to our modern eyes seem wild:  eating little, abstaining from meat, sleeping little, punishing her body with scourging, holding her hands in the fire, wearing a crown of silver thorns with sharp spikes pointed inward, while placing roses in the spaces between the thorns on the outside.  

She aspired to become a nun, but her father refused his consent.  So, she withdrew, as Catherine of Siena had done before her, to her own room in the family home, which she left only to go to church or to care for the sick poor.  She continued to contribute to her family income and to provide for the poor by her embroidery, which suggests she was very good at it. 

Anonymous, Saint Rose of Lima with
the Christ Child
Colombian, 18th Century
Puerto Rico, Private Collection





She pledged herself to perpetual virginity and, to turn away any suitors which her beauty (something agreed upon by all the sources) attracted, she rubbed pepper and dirt into her skin.  Eventually her father relented in his opposition to her vocation to the extent of allowing her to become a Third Order Dominican, again following the example of St. Catherine of Siena.  After this she always wore the black and white habit of a lay Dominican woman, which many misinterpret as that of a nun. 
Anonymous, Saint Rose of Lima with Child Jesus
Peruvian  (Cuzco School), c. 1680-1700
Lima, Museo de Arte de Lima












Finally, at age 31, in 1617, she died, worn out like her model by her exertions.  By that time, however, she was well-known in Peru for her saintliness and her funeral was hugely attended.  Her canonization came relatively quickly, as she was declared a saint in 1671, only 54 years after her death.  She was the first person born in the Americas to be proclaimed among the saints and is the Patron of Peru, as well as the rest of the Americas, North, South and Central. 




Saint Rose in Art

I had not expected to find many representations of Saint Rose in art.  My reasoning was partly that, due to her canonization at the end of the 17th century, there had been little time for an iconography to form before the kind of distinctive iconography I deal with in this blog became a thing of the past.  This opinion was backed up by my personal recollections.  All the images of Saint Rose that I had seen up to this point belonged to the soppy “holy card” images of the first half of the 20th century.  I was surprised, therefore, to find that both assumptions were wrong and that, while not huge, there is a substantial group of images, some fine and all respectable, that do homage to her.

One element that distinguishes Saint Rose from all other female Dominican saints are the roses that recall her name. She is usually shown with a crown of roses, representing the crown of spiky silver covered with roses that she wore in life.  Or, she may be holding a rose or ruses.  Another element is the image of the Infant Jesus.  Like Saint Anthony of Padua, she is often shown holding Him or playing with Him.  Further, again like her model Saint Catherine of Siena, she is often shown making a mystical marriage, taking the Infant Jesus as her spouse. In addition, she frequently, but not always, wears a very large rosary around her neck.

The images divide into groups illustrating certain themes.  Among them are:

Saint Rose as One of a Group of Saints Celebrating Some Aspect of Catholic Faith

Giovanni Ceffis, Saints Pius V, Rose of Lima
and Other Dominicans
Italian, 1592
Verona, Basilica of Santa Anastasia
Gaspar de Crayer, The Virgin Offering the Rosary to
St. Dominic  in the Presence of Other Saints
Flemish, 1641
Valenciennes, Musee des Beaux-Arts



























Francois Spierre, Saints Francis Borgia, Luis Beltran, Cajectan, Rose of Lima and Philip Benizi
French, 1671
London, British Museum
These five saints were canonized on the same day, April 12, 1671

Anonymous Copy after Luca Giordano, Madonna of the
Rosary with Domincan Saints
Spanish, 18th Century
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado
St. Rose is at the right side of the picture, almost in
the middle.  She is standing behind the figure of the
Blessed Virgin Mary, looking upward and wearing a
crown of roses.
Gregorio de'Ferrari, Saints Rose of Lima, Vincent Ferrer
and Luis Beltran
Italian, c. 1700
Taggia, Church of San Domenico,
Chapel of St. Catherine of Alexandria































Luca Giordano, Madonna and Child with
Dominican Saints
Italian, c. 1700
Naples, Church of Santa Maria della Sanita
Anonymous Apulian Artist (possibly Ferdinando Sanfelice)
Saint Nicholas Appearing to Saints Anthony of Padua
and Rose of Lima
Italian, c. 1743
Nardo, Church of Santa Maria della Purita




























Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, The Virgin and Child Appearing to Dominican Saints
Italian, 1747-1748
Venice, Santa Maria del Rosario

Saint Rose with the Madonna and Child

Jose Antolinez, St. Rose of Lima Before the
Madonna and Child
Spanish, c. 1650
Budapest, Szépmûvészeti Múzeum
Gaspar de Crayer, Sketch of the Virgin and Child
Crowning Saint Rose of Lima
Flemish, c. 1660-1669
Edinburgh, National Galleries of Scotland


























Anonymous Peruvian Alabaster Carver, Saint Rose of Lima
Kneeling Before Christ, the Virgin and St. Joseph
Peruvian, c. 1675-1700
London, Victoria and Albert Museum
Nicolas Correa, Mystic Marriage of Saint Rose of Lima
Mexican, 1691
Mexico City, Museo Nacional de Arte


Jacques Eubert Van der Burcht, Landscape with the
Virgin and Child and Saint Rose of Lima
Flemish, c. 1700-1714
Lille, Church of Saint Maurice


Luca Giordano, Vision of Saint Rose of Lima
Italian, c. 1700
Naples, Chiesa della Pieta dei Turchini

Saint Rose Alone with the Christ Child

Cornelis Schut, Saint Rose of Lima
Flemish, c. 1650-1685
Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional de Espana
Richard van Orley, Saint Rose of Lima
Flemish, c. 1690
Brussels, Royal Library of Belgium




Blas Ametler Rotlan, Saint Rose of Lima (after Murillo)
Spanish, c. 1800-1840
Madrid Biblioteca Nacional de Espana


Saint Rose By Herself

Juan Rodriguez Juarez, Saint Rose of Lima
Mexican, c. 1710
Philadelphia, Museum of Art
Anonymous, St. Rose of Lima
Spanish, Portuguese or Brazilian,19th Century
Salvador (BZ), Museu de Arte da Bahia























Saint Rose Attacked by Demons

Cornelis Galle, St. Rose of Lima Attacked
by a Demon in the Form of a Dog
from Vita et historia S. Rosae
Flemish,1672
Providence (RI), John Carter Brown Library
Cristobal de Villalpando, Saint Rose Tempted by the Devil
Mexican, c. 1695-1697
Mexico City, Metropolitan Cathedral
Capilla de San Felipe de Jesús

























Saint Rose As a Witness to the Christian Faith

Anonymous Apulian Artist, Entombment of Christ with Saint Rose of Lima
Italian, c. 1743
Nardo, Church of San Domenico

Death of Saint Rose


Melchiore Caffa, Funerary Monument of St. Rose of Lima
Maltese, 1665
Lima,  Church of San Domingo
Melchiore Caffa, Reduced, Gilded Copy of the Monument of St. Rose of Lima
Maltese, 1665
Private Collection
Caffa was sufficiently sure of popular interest in Europe that he prepared several reduced copies of the monument for Saint Rose which he was commissioned to produce for the church of San Domingo in Lima for sale in Europe.
Teofilo Castillo, Funeral of Saint Rose
Peruvian, 1918
Lima, Museo de Arte de Lima
Presumably this picture was painted to commemorate the 300 anniversary of her death in 1617.

As can be seen from the above, works of art depicting Saint Rose are, by no means, confined solely to the Spanish-speaking world, although some of the finest come from there.  But, it must be remembered that the world of New Spain and Peru was never cut off from the European world.  At the center of the Empire Spain was a two-way door, opening in both directions, with the Catholic faith as one of the main hinges.  Images traveled out from Europe and in from the far-flung Empire.  

The close relationships within Europe between what seem today to be very distinct countries also account for much interaction.  Spain and its monarchs were at the center of a web of relationships that may seem stange to us today, after two centuries of nationalism.  Spain ruled not only the Iberian peninsula but was, in addition, the ruler of the Low Countries.  Initially Spain ruled the entire area before the Dutch Republic broke away, and ruled what is now Belgium for much longer.  For a time, Spain also ruled Naples and southern Italy.  In addition, the ruling families of Spain and of the Austro-Hungarian Empire were closely related, through a series of intermarriages.  And, finally, through another set of intermarriages across several generations the royal Spanish Habsburgs were related to the French Bourbons.  

Philippine Ivory Carver, Saint Rose of Lima
Hispano-Phillipine, Late 17th Century
Pivate Collection
Thus, images originating in Spain could travel within Europe as well as within the Americas and into the Far East, through Spain’s colony of the Philippines.  And, further, the Catholic culture of Europe could spread them into regions somewhat removed from these main lines, such as Germany.  Hence Saint Rose’s iconography was able to spread around the entire world, as the examples to the left and below demonstrate.

Oswald Onghers, The Virgin and Christ Child
with Saint Rose of Lima
Flemish, c. 1675
Munich, Bayerische Staatsgemaeldesammlungen




















Saint Rose of Lima with a Lamb
Peruvian, 18th Century
Moreton-in-Marsh, Oxfordshire (UK), Castleton House























Saint Rose is one of the small number of saints with two feast days.  Although she died on August 24, her feast day was initially set on August 30 in order to avoid conflict with the feast of one of the Apostles, Saint Bartholemew.  In the revision of the liturgical calendar promulgated by the Motu Proprio Mysterii Paschalis in 1969 by Pope Paul VI it was moved to August 23, “the day before her death”.  However, because August 30 was a well-established secular as well as religious date in Peru and other Latin American countries no change was made and the date of her feast is still August 30.

© M. Duffy, 2017
___________________________________________________
  1. There is, as everyone probably knows, considerable debate over who was actually the first European to “discover” the Americas.  This debate is rather silly.  It scarcely matters that the Irish, or the Scandinavians or English or French fishermen landed in America first.  We know for certain that the Scandinavians did attempt a settlement in Newfoundland (the very name implies something).  The point surely is that these small scale “discoveries” made no real impact.  The Scandinavians appeared to have stayed for a few years but found the land inhospitable and the natives fierce.  So they left.4  However, the somewhat more advanced technology of the era of Columbus meant that the natives could be more easily subdued and true settlement attempted by first, the Spanish, and then by every European power of the early modern era.  Portugal followed in Brazil, then France (in Canada), England (along the North American East coast and in the Caribbean), Holland (in what is now New York) and Sweden (in what is now Delaware and Southern New Jersey).  European internal struggles affected the colonies, so that by the time the eighteenth century dawned, the primary colonial powers were Spain, Brazil, France and England, with Spain holding what was, by far, the largest territory.
  2. See my comments on the life and iconography of Saint Catherine of Siena for comparison at http://imaginemdei.blogspot.com/2016/04/saint-catherine-of-siena-patroness-of.html
  3. Easily available biographies of Saint Rose can be found online at a number of locations.  Some sites are relatively clinical, some are sites of popular devotion to the saint, all contain tidbits of information:
Aymé, Edward. "St. Rose of Lima. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13192c.htm
The website of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology at Berkeley, which is illustrated by a series of what look like late 17th century engravings the source of which I have been unable to identify: https://www.dspt.edu/site/general/st.-rose-of-lima
A blog about Catholic saints also illustrated with the same series of as yet unidentified prints: http://saintscatholic.blogspot.com/2015/08/saint-rose-of-lima.html
The Wikipedia article, which includes links to images, some of them additional to my own list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose_of_Lima
 4.        For a brief overview of the Viking settlement and the questions it raises see:
Linden, Eugene, The Vikings: A Memorable Visit to America, Smithsonian Magazine, December 2004, available at:
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-vikings-a-memorable-visit-to-america-98090935/



Saturday, August 5, 2017

Two Exhibitions at the Opposite Ends of Scale

Visitors viewing the altarpiece of Moses and the Brazen Serpent and the Transfiguration of Jesus
by Cristobal de Villalpando currently on view in the Lehman Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo: © M. Duffy, 2017

New Yorkers are blessed this summer with two exhibitions which center around paintings of religious subjects from the seventeenth century, one at the Frick and the other at the Met.  They share a century and are both expressions of the Baroque, but they couldn’t be more different, both in scale and in tone.


At the Frick

The first show centers around a tiny painting by Rembrandt, called “Divine Encounter:  Rembrandt’sAbraham and the Angels”.  This painting measures only 6-3/8 inches by 8-3/8 inches, about the size of a trade paperback book.  But into that small space Rembrandt poured a monumental composition in miniature that includes not only Abraham and the three angels, but also a landscape, the façade of Abraham’s house and his wife, Sarah.  Typically for Rembrandt, he uses variations in lighting to help tell the story, which is drawn from Genesis 18:1-15.  Abraham is visited by the Lord, who appears as three men to whom Abraham offers refreshment and food.  The visitors predict that Sarah will become a mother in her old age. 

A visitor to the Frick viewing  the tiny Abraham and the Angels
Photo:  © M. Duffy, 2017
In Rembrandt’s interpretation, the tent becomes a house, seen in shadow surrounded with plants and a tree, with Sarah peering from the door at the top of a small staircase.  Abraham is shown kneeling before the three, a bowl in one hand and a pitcher in the other.  The three visitors are reclining and seated in a semi-circle.  A long standing iconographic tradition, going back to the Byzantine empire, depicted the three visitors as identical angels, representing the Holy Trinity.  However, while Rembrandt does represent them as winged, his figures are not identical.  Clever use of lighting and action emphasizes their differences. 
Rembrandt van Rijn, Abraham Entertaining the Angels
Dutch, 1646
Private Collection
The figure closest to the viewer, shown with wings tucked behind his back is dressed in reddish robes and appears to have very short hair.  We cannot see his face, which is turned away from us.  Only a sliver of his profile is illuminated.  The middle figure is not so deeply in shadow, but not yet in full light either.  He is eating and his wings are unfurled, but not yet spread.  His reddish-blonde hair is chin length.  The third figure, shown in dazzling white garments in full light, appears with widespread wings and golden, shoulder length hair as he gestures toward the hidden Sarah.  It is the moment of revelation about the nature of his visitors and the moment of the promise to Abraham that Sarah will have a son.

This tiny painting is surrounded by a series of drawings and prints by Rembrandt that show other moments in the life of Abraham, and even another version of the same subject.  The exhibition is a charming and interesting exercise in Rembrandt connoisseurship and well worth the price of admission to the Frick.  It runs till August 20.

At the Met

Cristobal de Villalpando, Moses and the Brazen Serpent and the Transfiguration of Jesus
Mexican, 1683
Puebla, Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Immaculada Concepcion
The other show is also well worth the admission price at the Met, but is at the opposite end of just about every scale you can imagine.  It is “Cristobal de Villalpando:  Mexican Painter of the Baroque”.  Although it includes 11 paintings (including one loaned by my undergrad alma mater, Fordham University) the centerpiece of the exhibition is an enormous, 28-foot tall, altarpiece, lent by the Cathedral in Puebla, Mexico and exhibited for the first time in a museum.  

This huge canvas depicts two different Biblical scenes.  In the lower half we see the scene from Numbers 21:5-9 wherein the wandering Israelites are attacked in the desert by serpents, resulting in the death of many people.  At God’s instruction Moses makes a serpent of bronze which he mounts on a pole.  Anyone who has been bitten and looks at it is cured.  In the upper half we see the scene of the Transfiguration of Jesus (which happens to be the Gospel for this Sunday, August 6, 2017, the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord) in which Jesus reveals Himself in His full glory, accompanied by Moses (identified by the staff with the serpent) and Elijah on clouds as His disciples Peter, James and John look on.  

The relationship between the two scenes is made obvious by the inclusion in the Transfiguration scene of the Cross.  As the bronze serpent set upon a pole by Moses cures the snake bitten, so Jesus, when lifted up on the Cross, as He is lifted up at the Transfiguration will redeem and heal humanity.

A Change in Focus

The collections of paintings in this country were originally formed by wealthy patrons, like J. P. Morgan or Henry Clay Frick, whose tastes tended to focus on the art of Europe or of American artists who painted in the European tradition.  Their bequests and donations gave us the splendors of the Met and other large and small American museums.  However, as with every age, there were blind spots and gaps in what they provided, which our museums have been struggling to fill.  One area in which the Met was lacking for decades was in the area of later seventeenth-century French painting.  Several purchases over the last few years have filled that gap.  Another, much bigger, gap was in the area of Latin American art.  The Met has a good collection of pre-Columbian art and some modern Latin American art, but until recently very little Spanish Colonial art, leaving a large gap between the sixteenth and the twentieth centuries.  A small show called “Collecting the Arts of Mexico” , showcasing recent and not so recent acquisitions of Mexican work, has been on display in the American Wing galleries since last year,  It continues through September 4 and is worth seeing.  Now we have this splendid exhibition of the work of Villalpando which will be with us until October 15. 

Villalpando was a native of Mexico City and learned his craft there.  So, although he had access to the Baroque style through his training and through works of art, especially through prints of European works, his style does represent a truly American vision.  His figures are more ethereal, more agitated and much more colorful than anything produced during the equivalent period in Europe.  His compositions are often crowded with figures and frequently are organized in an almost medieval way.  Some of his motifs appear to have been his own inventions, and his pride in them is reflected in his highly visible signatures, which often read “Cristobal de Villalpando inventor”.  As the reviewer for the New York Times suggested “the outstanding altarpiece from Puebla should be a pilgrimage site of its own this summer”1.  And so should the little painting at the Frick.

In a subsequent article I will discuss some of the other paintings by Villalpando that are included in the Met exhibition.

© M. Duffy, 2017


  1. Farago, Jason.  “From Colonial Mexico, a Towering Vision of Grace”, The New York Times, July 26, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/26/arts/design/mexico-cristobal-de-villalpando-metropolitan-museum.html

Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

2017 Saint Anne Update



Attributed to the Painter of Add.MS.15677
Anna Selbdritt
from a Book of Hours
Flemish, c.1500
Cambridge_Fitzwilliam Museum
MS Marlay Cutting G.7a

July 26th is the feast day of Saints Anne and Joachim, the parents of the Virgin Mary and the grandparents of Jesus. They, especially St. Anne, have been important saints for most of the life of the Church and frequently featured in Christian art.


Over several years I have posted various images of Saints Anne and Joachim. The number keeps growing because, as the internet becomes a more widely available tool, the number of museums and libraries that are making their collections available online keeps growing. Further, museums and libraries that made their collections available several years ago continue to release more material from their holdings as they keep adding to their online presence. Since Anne and Joachim have been important for so long, we are still only seeing the tip of the iceberg of images that probably exist.


Each year I propose to continue to add to the collection of images available through this blog as new ones become accessible. I will link these images with the essays about their iconological type which I did in 2011.


In addition, this year I came across several images that fit into none of the categories I previously suggested. I have, therefore, created a new category called "Parental Love". Like pictures that imagine the life of Jesus as a boy in His home in Nazareth, these images imagine the relationship between Mary, as a little girl, and her parents.

So, now I present the 2017 additions to the iconography of St. Anne. Each section heading is also a link to the original article which explains the iconography. Click on the section headings to learn more.

Announcing Mary's Birth


Joachim's Offering Is Rejected
Part of Altarpiece of the Virgin Mary
Dalmatian or Venetian, c. 1400
London, National Gallery 
The Angel Announces Mary's Birth to Saint Joachim
Part of Altarpiece of the Virgin
Dalmatian or Venetian, c. 1400
London, National Gallery 
The Expulsion of Saint Joachim from the Temple
Netherlandish or German, c. 1475-1500
Philadelphia, Museum of Art
Gaudenzio Ferrari, Ejection of Joachim from the Temple
Italian, c. 1500-1510
Turin, Galleria Sabauda








































Marcantonio Raimondi after Albrecht Durer
Annunciation to Saint Joachim
Italian, 1506
Philadelphia, Museum of Art
Albrecht Altdorfer, Annunciation to Saint Joachim
German, 1515
Philadelphia, Museum of Art




























Bernardino Luini, Annunciation to Saint Anne, with Saint Joachim and the Angel in the Background
Italian, c. 1520-1521
Milan, Pinacoteca di Brera


The Meeting at the Golden Gate


Meeting at the Golden Gate
Part of Altarpiece of the Virgin Mary
Dalmatian or Venetian, c. 1400
London, National Gallery
Pseudo-Jacquemart and Collaborators, Meeting at the Golden Gate
from the Grandes heures de Jean de BerryFrench (Paris), 1409
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de Paris
MS Latin 919, fol. 24
Saint Anne and Saint Joachim at the Golden Gate
German, c. 1430-1450
New  York, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Nicolas Dipre, Meeting at the Golden Gate
French, c. 1500
Paris, Musee du Louvre

Albrecht Altdorfer, Meeting at the Golden Gate
German, c. 1515
Paris, Musee du Louvre
This is one of the most emotion-charged
images of the subject that I have ever seen.

Bernardino Luini, Saint Joachim and Saint Anne
Meeting at the Golden Gate
Italian, c. 1520-1521
Milan, Pinacoteca





























The Birth of Mary

Pietro Lorenzetti, Birth of the Virgin Mary
Italian, 1342
Siena, Museo dell'Opera del Duomo


Birth of Mary
Part of the Altarpiece of the Virgin
Dalmatian or Venetian, c. 1400
London, National Gallery 

Presentation of Mary in the Temple

Presentation of Mary in the Temple
Byzantine (Constantinople), 10th Century
Berlin, Skulpturensammlung und Museum fuer Byzantinische Kunst
der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin
Michael Healy, St. Anne and the Virgin Mary with Two Angels
Irish, c.1925
Dublin, National Gallery of Ireland


Parental Love  

This is the new category of pictures that I mentioned above.  In these images artists have tried to capture their imagining of what may have been the relationship between the young Mary and her older parents.  They present charming scenes that allow us to speculate that, where there is love, the relationship between small children and their parents is, in general, a constant thing, no matter the level of society and the era of history.  These images also are more likely to include, or even to focus on, the relationship of Mary with her father, Joachim.

After Abraham van Diepenbeeck, Saint Joachim and the Child Mary
Flemish, c. 1700
London, British Museum
This is one of the most charming and sensitive images of the love between parent and child that I have ever seen.  Mary's confiding look as she rushes into her father's arms and his gentle smile in response are totally disarming.  She is definitely Daddy's little girl here.

Pedro Laboria, Saint Joachim and the Virgin Mary as a Child
Spanish, 1746
Bogota, Museo del Arte Colonial
What parent, or even what casual observer, hasn't seen this scene played out many times!

Francesco Solimena, Saints Anne and Joachim with the Virgin
Italian, 18th Century
Private Collection
A late, Italian variation on the Anna Selbdritt image, as Anne wraps her cloak around Mary.


Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Saint Anne and Saint Joachim Offering the Young Mary to God the Father
Italian, c. 1750-1760
London, British Museum
As befits its serious subject, this image is more formal, part of serious reflection on Mary's destiny. 
Johann Melchior Wyrsch, Childhood of the Virgin
Swiss, 1770
Beasancon, Musee des Beaux-Arts et d'Archeologie
This image emphasizes the advanced age of the couple.  


Saint Anne as Mary's Teacher (The Education of the Virgin)

The Education of the Virgin, Saints Anne and Joachim
with a Donor
from the Salisbury PsalterEnglish (Salisbury), c. 1350-1375
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 765, fol. 7
The Education of the Virgin
from a Book of HoursFrench, c. 1450-1475
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 1175, fol. 149-150































Attributed to the Master of Saint Benedict
 The Education of the Virgin
German, c. 1510
Philadelphia, Museum of Art
Master of the Ango Hours, The Education
of the Virgin
from The Ango HoursFrench (Rouen), c. 1515
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Nouvelle acquisition latine 392, fol. 159



























Workshop of Laurent de LaHyre, The Education of the Virgin
French, c. 1640-1656
Rouen, Musee des Beaux-Arts

Juan Carreño de Miranda, Saint Anne Teaching the Virgin to Read
Spanish, 1674
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

Ramon Amadeu, Saint Anne and the Virgin as a Child
Spanish, c.1775-1780
Barcelona, Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya
Michel Healy, Saint Anne Teaching the Virgin to Read
Irish, c.1910
Dublin, National Gallery of Ireland



























Anne, the Root of the Tree of Salvation (the Anna Selbdritt)



Niccolo Alunno, Saint Anne with the Madonna and Child Enthroned
Italian, c. 1458-1461
New  York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Robert Lehman Collection
This is particularly interesting in being an early Italian version of the "bench type Anna Selbdritt" image, more typical of northern Europe.

Anna Selbdritt with Christ Stripped of His Garments
in the Background
German (Westphalian), c. 1486-1500
Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud

Master of the Saint John Panels, Anna Selbdritt with Saint Francis and  Saint Lidwina with Donors
Dutch, c. 1490-1500
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
The donors are obviously a family group.  The small figures in reddish robes kneeling in front of the enthroned figures of Saint Anne, the Virgin Mary and the Infant Jesus likely represent children of the family who died in infancy or early childhood.  In the eternal "now" of God they are joined with their living family members and with the saints in paying homage to the Holy Family, as, by extension, so are those, living and dead and yet unborn, who view this painting with the same prayerful devotion.  So, in addition to being an "Anna Selbdritt" this image also demonstrates the Communion of Saints.
Bartholomeus Zeitblom, Predella panel with Anna Selbdritt and Saints Barbara, Margaret of Antioch, Dorothy and
Mary Magdalene
German, c. 1511
Augsburg,  Staatsgalerie in der Katherinenk
Anna Selbdritt
Flemish (Mechelen), c. 1520
Philadelphia, Museum of Art

Master of the Biperach Kindred, Anna Selbdritt
German, c. 1520
Munich, Bayerisches Nationalmsueum


























Anonymous, Anna Selbdritt with Saints of the House of Habsburg
Flemish_c.1625-1628
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum

Anonymous, Anna Selbdritt
French, 17th Century
Rennes, Musee des Beaux-Arts

Saint Anne, Grandmother


Albrecht Durer, Holy Family with Saints Joachim and Anne
German, 1511
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts

Hans Baldung Grien, Saint Anne with the Christ Child, the Virgin and Saint John the Baptist
German, c. 1511
Washington, National Gallery of Art

Jacques Blanchard, Madonna and Child with Saint Anne Offering an Apple
French, c. 1625-1630
Paris, Musee du Louvre

Giovanni Battista Beinaschi, Holy Family with Saints Anne and Joachim
Italian, 1670s
Private Collection

Hendrik van Limborch, Holy Family with the Virgin's Parents
Dutch, 1718
Paris, Musee du Louvre
Saint Anne is hard to find in this picture, which has probably been darkened by aging varnish.  Her face is to be found in the dark space between Mary and her father, Joachim.   Saint Anne's hand appears just above the head of the Infant Jesus, as she tries to shield Him from being hurt by what looks like a baby-rattle in the hand of the infant Saint John the Baptist.

St. Anne in the Communion of Saints

Giovanni Piemontese, Anna Selbdritt with the Archangel Michael and Saints Catherine of Alexandria, Mary Magdalene and Francis of Assisi
Italian, 1471
Berlin, Gemaeldegalerie der Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Alvise Vivarini. Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints Louis of Toulouse, Anthony of Padua, Anne, Joachim, Francis of Assisi and Bernardino of Siena
Italian, 1480
Venice, Gallerie dell'Accademia

Andrea Previtali Baglioni, Madonna and Child with Saints Joachim and Anne
Italian, c. 1515-1520
Bergamo, Accademia Carrara

Novena Prayer to Saint Anne

"O glorious St. Ann, you are filled with compassion for those who invoke you and with love for those who suffer! Heavily burdened with the weight of my troubles, I cast myself at your feet and humbly beg of you to take the present intention which I recommend to you in your special care.

Please recommend it to your daughter, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and place it before the throne of Jesus, so that He may bring it to a happy issue. Continue to intercede for me until my request is granted. But, above all, obtain for me the grace one day to see my God face to face, and with you and Mary and all the saints to praise and bless Him for all eternity. Amen."


To view the updates from previous years see:

2014 Update



© M. Duffy, 2017