The life of the Virgin and the childhood of Jesus.


There is really very little information about Mary in the Bible, which was a problem as people had a deep need to know her story. Various apocryphal gospel writers obliged,  in particular those of the Protoevangelium of James and the Pseudo-Gospel of Matthew. The latter appears to be a compilation of other apocryphal narratives. All of these sources were useful for Jacobus de Voragine's Golden Legend. In these books we are informed of her immaculate conception and birth, her presentation  at the temple, her adoption by the temple to spin the wool, her marriage to Joseph, her death and Assumption. None of this, of course, has any Biblical authority. 
    There are many art sequences showing scenes from the Life of the Virgin. Two important but contrasting series are those by Giotto in the Scrovegni chapel in Padua (c 1308) and the sequence of woodcuts by Albrecht Durer.  Images from both of these versions will be used here, alongside work by a range of artists. Many will be the work of earlier artists. This is, partly, but not entirely, due to my own enthusiasm for this period! Many narrative sequences telling the stories of the Bible or the saints were painted in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, often in fresco, with the purpose of teaching the stories to an illiterate population. As time passed, the need to tell stories in this way faded, and religious painting focussed more on devotion  than narrative. 

Joachim, Anne and the Immaculate Conception

The Birth of the Virgin

The Presentation of the Virgin at the Temple

The Betrothal of the Virgin

   The Annunciation

The Visitation

Mary's return and Trial by Bitter Water  

The Nativity

  Circumcision, Purification and Presentation

   The Flight into Egypt 

The Massacre of the Innocents

The apocryphal childhood of Christ


Christ among the Doctors

The Wedding at Cana

The death and Assumption of the Virgin

The Coronation of the Virgin


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