Beauty, Rarity, History...The M.S. Rau Antiques Blog

Bill Rau

M.S. Rau Antiques

Led by third-generation owner and published fine art expert Bill Rau, M.S. Rau Antiques has grown by leaps and bounds since his grandfather Max Rau opened the doors in 1912 to a then-small antiques store in the heart of New Orleans' historic French Quarter. Bill's extensive knowledge and reputation as a leader places him among the most respected antique experts and gallery owners today.

A New Orleans institution for over 100 years, M.S. Rau Antiques is among the premier antiques galleries in the world. Located in the heart of the French Quarter, our 25,000 square foot gallery overflows with incredible antiques by names including Tiffany & Co., Paul Revere and Fabergé. Our unparalleled selection of important, original paintings and sculpture spans the 16th through the 21st century, created by legendary artists such as Brueghel, Monet and Rockwell, and our diverse selection of exquisite jewels, including rare colored diamonds, Kashmir sapphires and Burma rubies is without equal.

Motherly Love: Renaissance Devotional Painting by Puligo

  • This exceptionally rare and exquisite panel was composed by the renowned Florentine painter Domenico Puligo.  Circa 1515.

    This exceptionally rare and exquisite panel was composed by the renowned Florentine painter Domenico Puligo. Circa 1515.

    M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans

  • His take on the Mannerist style is well suited to the Virgin and Child trope, lending a motherly tenderness to Puligo’s devotional works.

    His take on the Mannerist style is well suited to the Virgin and Child trope, lending a motherly tenderness to Puligo’s devotional works.

    M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans

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 Bouguereau18th- and 19th-century antiques, and breathtaking jewelry, including rare colored diamonds.

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