Reserved - 17th-Century Mannerist School, Mater Dolorosa

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A fine 17th-century depiction of the ‘Mater Dolorosa’ dressed in a red gown and holding a white cloth. The Mater Dolorosa is an image of Mary as she was while standing by the side of Jesus’ cross.

Throughout the centuries, ‘Our Lady Of Sorrows’ has taken various forms depending on cultural and religious nuances. She’s often depicted in a blue gown with seven swords - one to represent each of the ‘Seven Sorrows’ that Mary suffered.

But here, in this unusual depiction, we see her dressed in red with a single sword piercing her heart. The single sword is said to represent Simeon’s prophecy (Luke 2:22-38) that “thy own soul a sword shall pierce.”

It’s also interesting to note the 12 stars above Mary’s head that relate to the Immaculate Conception as these suggest that the painting has a Catholic heritage.

In terms of its style, it seems to be inspired by the 16th-century Mannerists, such as Andrea del Sarto (1486-1530) and El Greco (1541-1614). The Mannerists elongated and distorted the human form to heighten emotion and add further expression to their works.

Medium
Oil on canvas
Size
34” x 27½” / 87cm x 70cm
Year of creation
c. 1650
Provenance
Germany
Condition
Generally good. Craquelure throughout but the paint layer is stable under varnish following multiple restorations. The canvas has been relined in around 1850, which, coupled with the thick coarse nature of the original canvas, leads us to a date of around 1650-1700.