Picturing Mary: The Virgin as You’ve Rarely Seen Her

By Paul Strand

CBN News, WASHINGTON — In the New Testament, the angel Gabriel brings good news that changes the world forever, saying to the Virgin Mary in Luke 1:28, “Greetings, you who are highly favored!  The Lord is with you.”

Now, just in time for Christmas, a new exhibition in the nation’s capital brings together some of the world’s most beautiful, diverse art concentrating on Mary, the mother of Jesus.

These works of art come to the National Museum of Women in the Arts from the Vatican Museums, Musee du Louvre and the Uffizi in Florence, Italy, as well as private collections.

Many of them are on display for the first time in America.  It’s a rare chance to see in one place how Mary was portrayed by famous Renaissance and Baroque artists like Botticelli, Durer and Michelangelo.

The exhibition is titled “Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea.”

All art pieces will be on display in Washington’s National Museum of Women in the Arts till April 12. But for those who can’t make it to Washington, D.C, they can view many of the works at the National Museum of Women in the Arts website.

Monsignor Timothy Verdon, the exhibition curator and a foremost scholar on Mary, said American audiences expect to see strong and complex women in their literature, shows and films.

But they may be surprised to find that artists of the Middle Ages and Renaissance portrayed Mary and other women that way.

“There was a similar interest in the woman as a figure of courage, the woman as a figure of individuality, the woman as capable of a range of thought and of feeling perhaps never represented in a comparable way in men,” Verdon told CBN News.

Many of the works show the early joy-filled days of Mary with her newborn son. In those paintings and sculpted pieces, she’s called Madonna, which simply means “my lady.”

On the other hand, several works concentrate on that hard, harsh day when Mary had to stand by helplessly as her Jesus was slain on a cross.

Believers over the centuries have loved Mary not just because of who she is, but because of her faith and words of wisdom.

When she first appears in the Scriptures, she’s saying, “Be it unto me according to Thy will.”  Next she’s seen in worshipful abandon, saying in Luke 1:46-47, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.”

But she gives probably the best advice of all about how to relate to Jesus when she told a group of men in John 2:5, “Do whatever He tells you.”

Report via CBN News

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

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