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Virgin of Hope

From the 5h to the 28th of March

Exposición temporal

Virgen de la Esperanza

Invited work

  • Anonymous (1451-1500)
  • Tempera on panel. 142x90cm
  • Loan from the Museo del Romanticismo (Madrid)
  • In the Library room

For International Women's Day, the Museum exhibits the work, usually kept in storage, of the Virgin of Hope. This late Gothic panel shows an iconography which, like the Immaculate Conception, follows the vision described by Saint John the Evangelist of the Apocaliptic Woman. According to some historians, this iconography has its origins in eastern iconography. The representation of the Virgin expecting, known as our Lady of Hope, of the O, or Expecting, was frequent at the end of the Middle Ages, but since middle of the 16th century the Church decreed the removal of the pregnant Virgin images, considering this image inconvenient. Nonetheless, the images of the pregnant, or nursing, Mother of God were still used in Christian iconography.

In this work, the Virgin appears expecting, sitting, and with a clear indication of her pregnant state in the radiating sun on her belly. The representations of the Virgin of Hope or pregnant Virgin were widespread in the Iberian Peninsula. For example, in the Museo de San Pio V in Valencia a similar painting with the same name, attributed to Juan de Sarinena, is kept, and in the Museo del Greco itself the painting is exhibited in the room next to the one holding the "Annunciation", two sculptures of the Angel and Virgin, with her being in a clearly pregnant state.

Speaking of the technique, this painting is tempera on panel. In order to give the Virgin more mysticism, and highlight her importance, she is dressed in a golden tunic with details painted in tempera and engraved designs, reproducing the sumptuousness of the damascene frabics. Also, the pastiglia technique under the gilt, in order to give volume to iconographically significant elements , like the Virgin's halo and the sun on her belly, symbol of her divine pregnancy.

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