Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea

  • Sandro Botticelli (Alessandro Filipepi), Madonna and Child (Madonna col Bambino), also called Madonna of the Book (Madonna del Libro) (detail), 1480–81; Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan; inv. 443
    Sandro Botticelli (Alessandro Filipepi), Madonna and Child (Madonna col Bambino), also called Madonna of the Book (Madonna del Libro) (detail), 1480–81; Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan; inv. 443 Sandro Botticelli (Alessandro Filipepi), Madonna and Child (Madonna col Bambino), also called Madonna of the Book (Madonna del Libro) (detail), 1480–81; Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan; inv. 443
  • Elisabetta Sirani, Virgin and Child (detail), 1663; Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; Conservation funds generously provided by the Southern California State Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts
    Elisabetta Sirani, Virgin and Child (detail), 1663; Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; Conservation funds generously provided by the Southern California State Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts Elisabetta Sirani, Virgin and Child (detail), 1663; Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; Conservation funds generously provided by the Southern California State Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts
  • Fra Filippo Lippi, Madonna and Child (Madonna col Bambino) (detail), ca. 1466–69; Provincia di Firenze, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence
    Fra Filippo Lippi, Madonna and Child (Madonna col Bambino) (detail), ca. 1466–69; Provincia di Firenze, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence Fra Filippo Lippi, Madonna and Child (Madonna col Bambino) (detail), ca. 1466–69; Provincia di Firenze, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea on view December 5, 2014–April 12, 2015.

Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea explores the concept of womanhood represented by the Virgin Mary as well as the social and sacred functions her image has served through time. This landmark exhibition organized by the National Museum of Women in the Arts brings together more than 60 Renaissance- and Baroque-era masterworks from the Vatican Museums, Uffizi Gallery, and other museums, churches, and private collections in Europe and the United States.

Divided into six thematic sections, the exhibition presents images of Mary as a daughter, cousin, and wife; the mother of an infant; a bereaved parent; the protagonist in a rich life story developed through the centuries; a link between heaven and earth; and an active participant in the lives of those who revere her.

The exhibition features works made by both female and male artists. Paintings by Sofonisba Anguissola, Artemisia Gentileschi, Orsola Maddalena Caccia (an Ursuline nun who ran a bustling painting studio in her convent in northern Italy), and Elisabetta Sirani highlight the varied ways in which women artists conceptualized the subject of Mary. These artists’ works are featured alongside treasured Marian paintings, sculptures, and drawings by Fra Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Pontormo, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, and others.

Picturing Mary is part of NMWA’s ongoing program of major historical loan exhibitions that examine humanist themes related to womankind. 


A Global Icon: Mary in Context

Explore NMWA’s exclusive online exhibition, A Global Icon: Mary in Context, which delves into the global impact of Mary. A complement to the exhibition on view in the museum’s galleries, this online exhibition looks at works of Mary from around the world through detailed images and short videos.


Interactive Preview of Picturing Mary

Check out the artworks on view in Picturing Mary online in this unique web feature that explores where the artworks traveled from, what to look for on each work, and which pieces are on view in the U.S. for the first time!


Picturing Mary Videos

Watch a compiled playlist of related videos about Mary from Smarthistory, Art History at Khan Academy.

 


Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea is organized by the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., with the support of MondoMostre, Rome.

The exhibition is made possible thanks to the generous sponsorship of an anonymous donor, Jacqueline Badger Mars, and Alejandra and Enrique Segura, with additional funding provided by Barbara and Thomas Hale* Boggs, Jr., Vincent C. Burke  III, Rose and Paul Carter, Friends of Picturing Mary, The Honorable Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, and TTR Sotheby’s International Realty.

The museum is grateful for the generosity of Bertha Soto Braddock, Marcia Myers Carlucci, Betty Boyd Dettre, the Friends of Picturing Mary, Albert Halprin and Janice Obuchowski, Sue J. Henry and Carter G. Phillips, the Kappaz Family, Albert Baker Knoll, Marlene A. and Frederic V. Malek, the Mississippi State Committee of NMWA, Monica Moreno and Erwin Flores, Marjorie and Philip Odeen, John D. Reilly*,  J. Christopher and Anne N. Reyes Foundation, Shirley and Patrick Ryan, Mr. and Mrs. B. Francis Saul II, K. Alex Stewart, and the Texas State Committee of NMWA, in addition to substantial support from several anonymous donors.

The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. NMWA gratefully acknowledges its partnerships with the Embassy of Italy and The Catholic University of America. Special thanks to His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl and the Archdiocese of Washington.

Further exhibition support listings