Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Joyful Mysteries, The Second Joyful Mystery, The Visitation Part V – The Magnificat

The Visitation and the Naming of John the Baptist
from an Evangeliary
German (Hildesheim), c.1015
Hildesheim, Dom-Museum
“And Mary said:
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever."

Luke 1:46-55, Excerpt from the Gospel for the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, May 31st

We have just looked at a series of iconographical motifs associated with the Visitation, the meeting between the newly pregnant Virgin Mary and her older, previously barren but now near-term, relative Elizabeth.  We have seen that artists have presented motifs from simple greeting, to the kneeling Elizabeth acknowledging the Presence of the Savior within her cousin, to gestures of blessing and finally to showing us the two unborn babies interacting.  These are the primary ways in which artists have portrayed the event.  Much less frequent has been their presentation of the response to the events of the Visitation on the part of Mary, expressed in the great hymn of the Magnificat

For these purposes I will not get into a discussion of the origins of the Magnificat.  For our purposes it is immaterial whether they are the actual words of Mary, expressed to the Evangelist Luke, or whether they are an early Marian hymn inserted into the Gospel account.  For the artist it really doesn’t matter.  It is the words and their association with Mary at the moment of the Visitation that matter.
The Annunciation and The Visitation
from a Psalter
English (London), First Quarter of the 13th Century
London, British Library
MS Landsdowne 420, fol. 7




I have found only a handful of images that specifically indicate the Magnificat.  Two come from the Middle Ages, one from the eighteenth century and one from the nineteenth century.  There are, no doubt, more but I have not yet uncovered them.  This seems odd in view of the fact that the Magnificat is one of the best known prayers of the church, recited every evening at Vespers/Evening Prayer/Evensong and both recited or sung at other times as well and set by significant composers from the middle ages through Arvo Pärt. 


In the two medieval examples, the moment is made clear through the addition of banderols held by Mary or by Mary and Elizabeth, on which texts are written.  Those held by Mary in both examples contain the opening word or words of the prayer “Magnificat anima mea Dominum et exultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo.” (My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”)  The banderol held by Elizabeth in the later image contains the words of her greeting “Benedicta tu inter mulieres et benedictus fructus ventris tui et unde hoc mihi ut veniat mater Domini mei ad me” (“Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb and how is it that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?”). 

In the two paintings from the later time periods things are not quite as clear cut.  We need to know a bit about the story to understand what is happening.  In the Maulbertsch picture Mary has climbed the stairs to the home of Elizabeth and Zechariah, who are seen receiving her.  Spectators and servants look on and angels wheel about overhead.  Bathed in a celestial glow, Mary lifts her hands ecstatically and we can almost here her proclamation “Magnificat anima mea Dominum!”
 
Franz Anton Maulbertsch, The Visitation
Austrian, 1771-1777
Vac, Cathedral
James Tissot, The Magnificat
French, 1886-1894
New York, Brooklyn Museum







In the nineteenth-century image by James Tissot things are much quieter. Tissot had painted a straightforward picture of the Visitation, in the simple greeting form. Here, however, we see no heavenly host or crowd of spectators, just a young woman standing with eyes closed and hands uplifted in prayer being watched by an old woman and old man.  

The expression of astonishment on the face of the old woman suggests that something unusual has happened.  Reading between the lines, as it were, we can conclude that this is an image of the moment during the Visitation when Mary responds.  But we are the ones who have to draw the conclusion.  Tissot does not help us with supernatural fireworks.  Such is the difference between the modern period and what has gone before.
















See also:  The Simple Greeting
                 The Kneeling Elizabeth
                 Acts of Blessing
                 Visible Babies

© M. Duffy, 2017

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.



The Joyful Mysteries, The Second Joyful Mystery, The Visitation Part IV – Visible Babies

Anonymous, The Visitation With Visible Children
Czech, 1430
Prague, National Gallery of Prague
“Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
"Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled."

Luke 1:39-45, Excerpt from the Gospel for the Feast of the Visitation, May 31

The images which I will explore in this essay are probably, to the modern point of view, extremely odd and, perhaps a bit shocking.  We tend to think of our ancestors in previous centuries as not as smart as ourselves, with faulty understanding of anatomy and other things medical and scientific (not realizing that a. Our ancestors thought of themselves as thoroughly modern and up-to-date scientific also, and b. our own descendants of 100-200 years or more will think of us in exactly the same way, as benightedly ignorant). 

Anonymous, The Visitation with Visible Children
German, c.1440
Munich, Bayerisches Nationalmuseum
However, our ancestors had a pretty good understanding of how things worked in the practical sense, though they may not have understood them scientifically.  They knew that babies were formed somewhere in the bodies of their mothers, in the region of the stomach, and that they came out through the birth canal.  They may not have been entirely clear, perhaps, about what part of the act of procreation caused this, or exactly what came together through it, but they were pretty clear about the results.  And they had a pretty good idea of what things looked like inside, since they knew animals had a similar system for producing offspring and occasionally saw the unborn when butchering a cow or ewe that had died before giving birth.  So, they were not as naïve about this as we might think.

Still, it is often surprising to modern people that they were quite frank about the “facts of birth” when it comes to a group of images of the Visitation produced during the Middle Ages.  These surprising images show Mary and Elizabeth meeting, just as the types of Visitation images we have already looked at.  However, they show something else as well.  They show the two unborn children meeting and they show that, even as unborn babies in the wombs of their mothers, John the Baptist pays homage to his baby cousin as he would in his adult life.

Great Panagia
Russian, 1200-1240
Moscow, The State Tretyakov Galler



The ”visible baby” or “foetus” images which began to appear in the thirteenth century obviously owe their origins to a Byzantine/Russian Orthodox icon of the Virgin Mary known as the Mother of God of the Sign, also called the Panagia or Platyera images.  These Orthodox images show Mary standing in the orant position, with her hands raised in praise, with an image of the Infant Jesus in a mandorla in front of her chest.  These images signify the moment of the Incarnation, in which the Holy Spirit implants the Divine Presence within her and the body of the Infant Jesus begins to form. 
 
Icon of the Mother of God The Word Was Made Flesh
The Albazin Icon
Russian, Before 1665


















Bartolomeo Buon, Virgin and Child
with Kneeling Members  of the Guild of the Misericordia
Italian, c. 1445-1450
London, Victoria and Albert Museum









In the West, however, with its more naturalistic artistic attitude, this image was used in several ways.  It could be used similarly to its use in the East, to invoke the Blessed Virgin as a sympathic and powerful intercessor.1  













Its most frequent use was in devotional images of the Visitation where another object was in view.  In the West it appears never to have been used for the iconography of the Annunciation, as it is in the East.  We have examined the Annunciation images in great detail and those all focus on the actions of the Angel Gabriel and of the Holy Spirit and the response of Mary. 
Workshop of Robert Campin, The Annunciation
Center Panel of the Merode Altarpiece
Flemish, c. 1427-1432
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters Collection
Workshop of Robert Campin
Detail View of Central Panel of the Merode Altarpiece
Flemish, c. 1427-1432
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters Collection







The closest image we can find in the West to the Orthodox idea are those pictures of the Annunciation in which a tiny Jesus, sometimes carrying the cross, slides down a beam of light toward Mary.













In the West the iconography of Mary with a visible Child is used only for a small number of images of the Visitation, produced between the early thirteenth- and the mid-sixteenth centuries, primarily in Germanic speaking countries.  Since they are all images of the Visitation, they necessarily include the figure of St. Elizabeth, who was also pregnant, with Saint John the Baptist.  And, not surprisingly, the tiny figure of Saint John is also included, positioned like Jesus, in his mother’s stomach. 
 
Anonymous, The Visitation with Visible Children
Austrian, 1210
Nauders, Chapel of St. Leonard
In the earliest Western image I could find the babies are still shown, Eastern-style, as small figures within mandorlas on their mother’s chests, though slightly lower than typical for the Eastern images.  

Attributed to Master Heinrich of Constance
The Visitation with Rock Crystal Inserts
German, c.1310-1320
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art
This is also where they are located on a delicately carved wooden sculptural set dated to the fourteenth century and attributed to Heinrich of Constance, now in the Metropolitan Museum.2  Here the figures include two inserts of rock crystal which originally covered painted images of the two babies, but are now blank. 
 
Attributed to Master Heinrich of Constance
The Visitation with Rock Crystal Inserts
German, c.1310-1320
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art





















By the fifteenth century, the images of the babies had moved lower, more naturalistically adhering to the location of the womb and in that location it remained. 

Along with the move downward, the figures of the babies began to assume postures that reflected their relative positions.  No doubt inspired by the reference to his ability to move through his joyful leap mentioned in the Gospel, Saint John was most frequently shown as kneeling, his tiny hands joined in prayer, as he faces his equally tiny cousin and Lord.  Jesus is most often shown seated to standing, with His hands raised in a gesture of blessing.  Even as unborn babies each knows who he is and who his cousin is.3  It is a pious reminder that, even unborn, life is seamless.

Antependium of Woven Silk, The Visitation
with Visible Children
Alsatian, c. 1410
Frankfurt-am-Main, Museum fuer Angewandte Kunst
Anonymous Sculptor, The Visitation with Visible Children
German, c. 1420
Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseums



























Workshop of Konrad Witz, The Decree of Redemption
Swiss, c.1444
Berlin, Gemaeldegalerie der Staatliche Museen zu Berliln


Anonymous, The Visitation with Visible Children
Austrian, c. 1460
Kremsmuenster, Kremsmuenster Abbey
Friedrich Herlin, The Visitation with Visible Children
German, 1462
Noerdlingen (DE), Stadtmuseum
Here the children are not shown.  Their presence is indicated
by the use of stars, shown atop their mothers' clothing.  


























Marx Reichlich, The Visitation with Visible Children
Austrian, c. 1500
Munich, Alte Pinakothek

Hans Strueb, The Visitation with Visible Children
German, c.1505
Madrid, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

Danube School, The Visitation with Visible Children
German, c.1530-1550
Cleveland, Museum of Art
This image is rather unusual in that, although it includes both
babies, it places them outside in front of their mothers' bodies.



























Marx Weiss the Elder, The Visitation with Visible Children
German, 1563
Ueberlingen, Sankt Nikolaus

Not surprisingly this rather offbeat, pious devotional image mostly disappeared under the weight of the Reformation and the responding seriousness with which the Catholic Reform that followed looked at religious iconography.  
Anton Hitzenthaler. The Visitation with Visible Symbols for the Children
Austrian, 18th Century
Maria Bruendl, Parish Church
In this surprisingly late version of the subject, the actual figures of the children have been replaced by their monograms.

However, recently, no doubt as a response to renewed discussion on the development of the child in the womb made urgent by the debates on abortion, there has been a renewed modern interest in this particular piece of iconography. 

Bradi Barth, The Visitation with Visible children
Swiss, c. 1960-2007
  © HERBRONNEN. vzw

 
James B. Janknegt, The Visitation with Visible Children
American, 2007
  ©  James B. Jankegt
The feast of the Visitation is May 31st.

See also:  The Simple Greeting
                 The Kneeling Elizabeth
                 Acts of Blessing
                 The Magnificat

© M. Duffy, 2017

  1. Rosenau, Helen.  “A Study in the Iconography of the Incarnation”, The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, Vol. 85, No. 496 (Jul., 1944), pp. 172-179.
  2. Wixom, William. Medieval Sculpture at the Metropolitan, 800-1400, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Spring 2005, Volume LXII, Number 4, page 47.
  3. Verheyen, Egon.  “An Iconographic Note on Altdorfer's Visitation in the Cleveland Museum of Art”, The Art Bulletin, Vol. 46, No. 4 (Dec., 1964), pp. 536-539.


Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.




The Joyful Mysteries, The Second Joyful Mystery, The Visitation Part III – Acts of Blessing

The Visitatin
from Hours of Louis de SavoieFrench (Savoy), 1445-1450
Paris, Bibliotheque nationaled de France
MS Latin 9473, fol. 34





“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

Luke 1:40-45


Alabaster Panel Carver, The Visitation
English, 15th Century
London, Victoria and Albert Museum









Elizabeth’s reaction and that of her unborn son to the arrival of Mary with her own unborn son is one of the most joyful moments of the Gospels.  Elizabeth and her baby, John the Baptist, know what has happened to Mary and react to the Presence of her baby, Jesus.


We have seen previously that the Visitation event has been imagined primarily as the simple meeting between the women, who affectionately and joyfully greet each other.  We have also seen that some painters chose to imagine Elizabeth kneeling in welcome and adoration to the Presence that Mary carries within her.  The next category that we will look at goes a little further.  Elizabeth places her hand on Mary’s stomach, to honor the unborn life she carries.  Mary often reciprocates by placing one of her hands on Elizabeth’s stomach or by raising her hand in a blessing directed toward the unborn John.


This motif, not surprisingly, rose rather later than some others and seemed to be used for only about 100 years, disappearing, as so many other motifs did, during the cataclysm of the Reformation and the Catholic Reform that followed it.

Boucicaut Master, The Visitation
from the Hours of Jeanne BessonnnelleFrench (Paris), 1400-1425
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 1161, fol. 55v
 
Fastolf Master, The Visitation
from the Hours of William PorterFrench (Rouen), 1415-1430
New  York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M105, fol. 92r



























Master of Marguerite d'Orleans, The Visitation
from the Hours of Marguerite d'Orleans
French (Rennes), c.1430
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 1156, fol. 58
Jacques Daret, The Visitation with a Donor
French, 1434-1435
Berlin, Gemaeldegalerie der Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Rogier van der Weyden, The Visitation
Flemish, c.1445
Leipzig, Museum der bildenden Kunste
Workshop of Rogier van der Weyden, The Nativity Polyptych
Flemish, c.1450
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters Collection
This multi-paneled polyptych shows the relation of the Visitation scene in this type of work.  Somewhat unusual in this particular work is the inclusion of the scene of Augustus learning of the birth of Jesus from the Cumean Sibyl and the imposition of the figure of the Infant Jesus in the star of the Three Magi.
Master of the Dresden Prayer Book, The Visitation and other scenes from both the Birth of Christ and of John the Baptist
from the Spinola HoursFlemish (Bruges), c. 1510-1520
Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum
MS Ludwig IX 18, fol. 109

One of the later images has some interesting side issues, as it appears in a work that is more oriented toward retrospection and memorial than are the other, more illustrative, examples.
Master of the Spec Nostra, Four Canons with Saints Augustine and Jerome with the Visitation
Dutch, c.1500
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum

This image, now in the Rijksmuseum, is known as the Four Canons with Saints Augustine and Jerome by an Open Grave, with the Visitation, and is painted by an as-yet-unidentified, presumably Dutch, painter around the year 1500.1  It is almost like two paintings of different subjects have been brought together.  In the mid-ground Mary and Elizabeth sit together on the edge of what appears to be a sunken garden.  Elizabeth places her hand on Mary’s stomach, in the same gesture we have seen in other images of this type.  In the background on the left we see into the future, where Mary sits at the base of a tree while the infant Jesus plays with a broomstick hobby horse under the care of an angel, while three other angels serenade the group.  In the right background two women walk, one facing us and one with her back to us.  Peacocks can be seen on both sides of the background.

The foreground is entirely different.  There we are confronted by four men, wearing the garb of canons regular of the Augustinian order, knee beside an open grave, two on each side.  Behind each group of two is one of the saints named in the title.  Saint Jerome, wearing his anomalous cardinal’s attire and accompanied by his lion (in this case, almost a toy lion) stands behind the two canons on the left.  Saint Augustine, in bishop’s attire and holding the offering of his heart in his right hand and his crozier in the left, stands behind the group at the right.  Between each of the groups is the open grave, inhabited by a partially decomposed body.  The gravestone, which has been rolled away on wooden rollers that are visible, bears the inscription “Requiescant in pace” (May they rest in peace), taken from the short prayer for the dead which ends “May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace.  Amen.”  The prayer is not for a specific person, but for all the dead. 
Below the grave is written two lines of Latin text.  The first is a memento mori prayer (You who pass by, behold and lament).  The second line is a form of the well-known saying “As I am you shall be, as you are I was” expressed here as “Sum quod eris quod es ipse fui pro me precor ora” (“I am what thou shall be, what thou art I have been; pray for me, I beseech thee”). 

This is a highly unusual and very thoughtful painting.  The thought seems to be that remembering the dead in prayer will assist them, as the Church teaches, to shorten their penance in Purgatory, as well as to confront the living onlooker with the need for prayer for oneself as well as for the dead, for as we are they once were and as they are we shall be.  We need preparation for the afterlife.  And the afterlife itself, salvation and the fulfillment of the promise are also presented through the presence of the image of the pregnant Mary and Elizabeth in the immediate mid-ground and the paradise garden of the background, where the Infant Jesus is free to play and where, peacocks, the image of the immortal soul stroll the gardens.

See also:  The Simple Greeting
                 The Kneeling Elizabeth
                  Visible Babies
                  The Magnificat

© M. Duffy, 2017

For a discussion with additional bibliography see:  Ubl, Matthias.  'The Office of the Dead': a New Interpretation of the Spes Nostra Painting, The Rijksmuseum Bulletin, Vol. 61, No. 4 (2013), pp. 322-337.

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, May 30, 2017

The Joyful Mysteries, The Second Joyful Mystery, The Visitation Part II – The Kneeling Elizabeth

Workshop of Goossen van der Weyden, The Visitation
Flemish, c.1516
London, National Gallery
“During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

Luke 1:39-45

Attributed to the Egerton Master, The Visitation
from the Hours of Rene of Anjou
French (Paris), c.1410
London, British Library
MS Egerton 1070, fol. 29v




Mary’s visit to her relative, Elizabeth, shortly after having given her assent to God’s request that she give birth to Jesus, is the event that we call the Visitation, the second decade of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary.  Most of us are most familiar with the central portion of Luke’s account of the visit, in which Elizabeth acknowledges Mary’s status and adds the second phrase of the Hail Mary prayer “and blessed is the fruits of your womb” to the first part, “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you”, which is the way in which the Angel Gabriel greeted Mary.  The remaining essays that will look at the iconography of the Visitation will focus on these few lines and on the ways in which artists have represented the words of the text visually.

The first variation on the simple greeting (which we looked at here) is the motif of the kneeling Elizabeth.  Although the words of Saint Luke do not indicate any kind of movement for Elizabeth, it is easy to imagine her raising her hands, or holding out her arms, or even kneeling to acknowledge “the mother of my Lord”. 

It does not seem to have been until the fourteenth century that artists began to deviate from the simple greeting motif, in which the women met as equals, generally in a standing posture.  The earliest image I have found in which Elizabeth kneels comes from around 1380, attributed to the Master of the Parement de Narbonne, an altar frontal commissioned by the King Charles V of France, now in the Louvre.  The manuscript comes from the library of that great manuscript connoisseur, the Prince Jean, Duc de Berry, the man who commissioned the famous Tres Riches Heures and many other books besides.  So, the work in question is a luxury manuscript, produced for an influential, highly cultured man at the highest levels of French (and European) society.  Jean de Berry was the son of King Jean II and brother of King Charles V of France, as well as brother to the equally famous Philip the Bold, founder of the dynasty of the Dukes of Burgundy, who ruled what became virtually a third country, poised between France and the Holy Roman Empire and including some of the most productive areas of medieval Europe, the provinces which became the current countries of Holland and Belgium. 

Master of the Paremont of Narbonne, The Visitation
from the Tres Belles Heures of Notre-Dame de Jean de Berry
French (Paris), c.1380
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Nouvelle acquisition latine 3093, fol. 28
In this first manuscript Mary and Elizabeth are represented as being indoors, in a room with a tiled floor, a wood beam ceiling and high windows above walls covered in cloth hangings.  An exterior door, fitted with iron hinges stands behind Mary and an open door stands behind Elizabeth.  Therefore, we are meant to read the space as a reception room in Elizabeth and Zechariah’s home.  This is carefully in keeping with the Gospel, which says that Mary “entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth” (Luke 1:40).  Elizabeth has sunk to one knee before Mary and gestures upward with open arms.  Framed between her extended hands is Mary’s left hand, which rests protectively on her stomach.  The gestures of both women, therefore, call our attention to the precious Presence taking human flesh within Mary.  This gesture of Elizabeth will be repeated in virtually all the Visitation images in which Elizabeth kneels.  Her kneeling may, therefore, be read not as honoring Mary, but in honoring the forming Jesus. 

Interestingly, this same image is part of a total page, which tells much of the Incarnation story.  The letter D below the main image contains a tiny image of the Holy Family, of Mary and Jesus with St. Joseph.  At the bottom of the page the Angel Gabriel announces the coming birth of John the Baptist to Elizabeth’s husband, Zechariah, and Mary and Joseph are seen approaching Bethlehem. 

Jacquemart de Hesdin (or the Pseudo-Jacquemart)
The Visitation
from Petites heures de Jean de Berry
French (Bourges), 1385-1390
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 18014, fol. 206








This image may have influenced another manuscript painter also working for Duc Jean de Berry.  This artist, identified as Jacquemart de Hesdin or another, related, painter known as Pseudo-Jacquemart, produced another prayer book for the duke about five years later.  In this image of the Visitation, the figures of Mary and Elizabeth are posed very similarly.  But they are set in a landscape out of doors.  A further variation is that instead of placing her left hand on her stomach, Mary holds a book in her right hand, calling our attention to her anatomy in a less obvious way, while placing her left hand around Elizabeth’s shoulders.  Elizabeth’s gesture is still one of veneration of the Holy Child within. 








From the foundation of these two pictures all the rest of the images of the kneeling Elizabeth spring.1 

The Boucicaut Master, The Visitation
from a Book of Hours
French (Paris), 1400-1425
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Additional 16997, fol. 45v

Dieric Bouts the Elder, The Visitation
from Scenes from the Life of the Virgin
Dutch, c.1445
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado



























Follower of Master of Jean Rolin, The Visitation
from a Book of Hours
French (Paris), c. 1450
The Hague, Koninklijk Bibliotheek
MS KB 74 F 1, fol. 53r

Follower of Jean Fouquet, The Visitation
from a Book of Hours
French (Tours), c. 1470
The Hague, Koninklijk Bibliotheek
MS KB 74 G28, fol. 33v



























Domenico Ghirlandaio, The Visitation
Italian, 1491
Paris, Musee du Louvre
Francesco Granacci, Scenes from the Life of Saint John the Baptist
Italian, c.1506-1507
New  York, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Jacopo Pontormo, The Visitation
Italian, 1514-1516
Florence, Church of Santissima Annunziata

Juan Correa de Vivar, The Visitation
Spanish, c.1535
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

The Visitation
from the Hours of Francois II
French, 1555
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Nouvelle acquisition latine 104, fol. 39



























Tommaso Manzuoli, The Visitation
Italian, c.1560
Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum

Peter Paul Rubens, The Visitation
Flemish, 1611-1612
Strasbourg, Musee des Beaux-Arts


























The Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is May 31st.

See also:  The Simple Greeting
                 Acts of Blessing
                 Visible Babies
                  The Magnificat

© M. Duffy, 2017

1.  For an interpretation of one of them, that by Pontormo for the atrium of the church of the Santissima Annunziata in Florence, see Wasserman, Jack.  Jacopo Pontormo's Florentine "Visitation": The Iconography, Artibus et Historiae, Vol. 16, No. 32 (1995), pp. 39-53.


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.