Madonna and Child 1823

Painting of the Virgin Mary holding the infant Jesus, both are gazing out at the viewer.

Julie Mihes, Madonna and Child, 1823; Museum purchase: Members’ Acquisition Fund

Many of Julie Mihes’s paintings, like this one of the Virgin Mary and infant Jesus, reflect the style of a group of early 19th-century Viennese artists known as the Brotherhood of St. Luke. Also called the Nazarenes, these artists took vows of poverty and chastity and sought to capture what they viewed as the spiritual purity of early Renaissance art. It is not known if Mihes was directly affiliated with the Nazarenes, but like them, she depicted traditional religious subjects in a formal style, with intense colors and little modeling of forms.

Mihes signed and dated this painting at the lower left with the inscription: “Julia Primisser geb. Mihes inv. & pinx. 1823,” which translates to “Julia Primisser born Mihes invented and painted this 1823.” By inscribing the painting in this way, Mihes not only claimed authorship of the image but made it clear that it was her own composition, rather than a copy. However, she did make use of traditional symbolism associated with images of the Madonna and Child such as the imaginary paradisiacal background, and Christ raising his right arm in blessing.

National Museum of Women in the Arts