The Virgin Mary has served as a centralizing figure in Christian art since the religion’s beginnings, but it took many centuries for her devotional images to humanize this pivotal historical figure as nurturer and mother of God.
The first artistic venerations of Mary date to the second century during the Apostolic Age of early Christianity. However, it was not until 431 and the convening of the Council of Ephesus that she was officially titled the "Mother of God," an act that permanently established her importance within the Church.
From that moment on, the vast majority of devotional images of the Virgin, also known as Madonna (Italian for “my lady”), depict her in the presence of the infant Jesus. These early representations tend to be rather static, depicting Mary either enthroned or worshiping the infant Jesus. It wouldn’t be until the Renaissance that Mary’s role as a mother would be fully realized.
Embodying love, tenderness and adoration of a mother for her child is rendered in all its splendor in this Italian Mannerist masterpiece by Domenico Puligo entitled Virgin and Child with the Infant St. John. This 16th-century oil on panel is bursting with wondrous color and its condition is nothing short of superb. In it, we see Mary gently embracing the two infants as only a mother can. Emotive and strikingly beautiful, Puligo’s Virgin and Child is a work of outstanding artistry and skill, rendering his work in true Mannerist fashion by evoking drama through his use of exaggerated postures and luminous colors.
The leading Mannerist artist of his time, Puligo contracted plague when he was only 35, making his paintings primarily the rare and prized possessions of museums. To find his work available for private acquisition is nothing short of extraordinary.
About M.S. Rau Antiques:
M.S. Rau Antiques has spent over 100 years earning the trust of discerning collectors worldwide. Located in the heart of New Orleans’ historic French Quarter, our peerless showroom houses one of the world’s most extensive and stunning collections of museum-quality fine art by artists such as Claude Monet and William Bouguereau, 18th- and 19th-century antiques, and breathtaking jewelry, including rare colored diamonds.