Catholic Art and Symbols

The most beautiful faces of the Virgin Mary in Art

The figure of the Virgin Mary has inspired artists of all times and of all countries: they have dedicated to the Virgin Mary sculptures, frescoes, paintings, mosaics and other devotional objects.

Here you are the selection of the best Virgin Mary’s portraits according to our opinion.

Tenderness’ Madonna (1100 d.C. circa)

The Theotokos of Vladimir Madonna, also known as Tenderness’ Madonna, is one of the most venerated and famous Orthodox icons in the world and is a typical example of Byzantine iconography of the Eleusis type.
The Theotokos is considered the protector of Russia: the icon is kept in the Tret’jakov Gallery in Moscow. The Orthodox Church celebrates it on 3rd June and 26th August.

Black Madonna (1300 d.C. circa)

The Black Virgin of Częstochowa is also known as the Black Madonna. It is an icon of Byzantine medieval tradition of the Madonna and Child. Legend says that it was painted by Saint Luke who, being contemporary with the Madonna, has painted her true face. In 1382 the icon was brought to the Sanctuary of Częstochowa in Jasna Góra by Prince Ladislao of Opole. In 1430, during the wars of the Ussites, the icon was desecrated with an ax, so much so that even today the scars are visible. In the seventeenth century the black lady for the Poles represented the resistance of the Poles to foreign domination.

The Annunciation of Leonardo Da Vinci (1495 circa)

The representation made by Leonardo Da Vinci is the precise moment of the Annunciation, when Mary is interrupted in reading from the arrival of the Angel and reacts with surprise at the news of her pregnancy of divine matrix. The painter decides to depict her with her blond hair loose, crowned by an areola and dressed with extreme elegance. Despite the surprise, the woman does not appear troubled, but rather shows great dignity and composure: the “motion of the soul” is recognizable only in that left hand raised, in a gesture of wonder, defense but also of acceptance of one’s own destiny.

The Virgin Mary of Van Der Weyden (1450 circa)

The Virgin is depicted by Rogier Van der Weyden in one of the 9 panels of this monumental polyptych. She is looking towards the Christ Judge in an attitude of prayer, with a mixed expression of pride and tenderness. She is dressed in the Flemish style, with a blue dress and a white veil covering her forehead and neck: only her face comes out of the rosy skin. The figure stands out against a golden background, from which emerges with incredible vigor and monumentality.

The Virgin Mary of Antonello da Messina (1476 circa)

The figure of the Virgin is inserted in a completely black background, and in this can be seen a reference to Flemish painting. This background gives greater vigor to the subject, in contrast to extremely bright. The woman is cloaked in a cobalt blue veil, and she strikes in particular the sweet and magnetic look, as well as the suspended gesture of the hand, which almost seems to escape from the picture: perhaps she would like to talk to us, tell us the mystery you referred to Angel of God: a mystery that in the end, however, we can not know.

The Virgin Mary of Botticelli (1481 circa)

Botticelli decides to depict the Virgin as Queen of Heaven, crowned by two Angels. To exalt the grandeur of the subject, both the dimensions (the woman is represented almost to life size) and the copious use of golden paint, both in the decorative details, such as the crown and the embroidery of the garments, both in those that are characteristic of the Madonna, as the divine rays that emanates, as well as the reflections of the hair, thus intensified. The crown, in particular, is a refined masterpiece of jewelery, totally composed of stars, to recall one of the appellations given to the Virgin, or “Morning Star”.

Madonna dei Palafrenieri of Caravaggio (1605 circa)

Of the beautiful woman who lent herself as a model to this masterpiece of Caravaggio you know the name and surname, as well as the stormy history: it is Maddalena Antognetti, a courtesan well known in Rome for being a lover of many powerful. The work should have been exhibited at the high altar of the church of Sant’Anna dei Palafrenieri in the Vatican, but concretely there remained not even a month, as it was rejected by the clients for several reasons: one of them was linked, for ‘in fact, the identity of the model, as well as the audacious neckline painted in the picture, which was very little suited to the purest of all women, or the Virgin. A similar representation is nothing short of revolutionary: the Madonna is not idealized but, on the contrary, it is striking for its “popular” traits. Interesting color rendering, with the coral-colored dress that accentuates the pallor of the woman’s complexion, as well as the chiaroscuro, with the light that illuminates the right profile leaving the other in the shadows.

The Virgin Mary of Beato Angelico (1440 circa)

The Annunciation of the North Corridor is a fresco by Beato Angelico in the convent of San Marco, located on the first floor, right in front of the stairs. The work, which measures 230 × 321 cm, is of uncertain date, ranging between the years 1440 and the period after the return from the Roman residence, after 1450. It is one of the master’s most famous works and one of the best results absolutely on this subject.

The Virgin Mary of Edvard Munch (1895)

Madonna is a famous work by the Norwegian expressionist Edvard Munch, who painted five versions between 1894 and 1895, in oil on canvas. One of these has dimensions of 91 × 70.5 cm. One of the versions belongs to the Munch Museum in Oslo, while another belongs to a private one, Nelson Blitz.

The Virgin Mary of Port Lligat (1949)

One of the most representative works by the painter Salvador Dalí is the “Madonna of Port Lligat” from 1949. The work was produced by Dalì in a first version in 1949. A year later, however, the artist created a homonymous one. The first painting is made in the measure of 49 x 37.5 cm. Today it is exhibited at the Haggerty Museum of Art in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – United States of America.

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