Museums and Art

“The meeting of Mary and Elizabeth (Visiting Mary)”, Sebastiano del Piombo - description of the painting

“The meeting of Mary and Elizabeth (Visiting Mary)”, Sebastiano del Piombo - description of the painting

Meeting of Mary and Elizabeth (Visit of Mary) - Sebastiano del Piombo. 168 x 132 cm

In his work, “The Meeting of Mary and Elizabeth,” the master addresses the Gospel of Luke, which describes the visit by the Virgin to her cousin Elizabeth. During the Annunciation, the Archangel Gabriel told Mary that the childless elderly Elizabeth was expecting a baby. Mary went to a city in Judea to visit her. Hearing Mary's greeting, Elizabeth felt the tremors of the future John the Baptist. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, she was the first to announce the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

The painting was most likely created for the altar. The general color of the canvas refers us to the Venetian school of painting. Sebastiano del Piombo uses bright, rich colors. In the background we see a typical Italian landscape of the 16th century, reminiscent of the work of Giorgione.

It is no coincidence that the colors of the clothes of two women were chosen. The white shawl on Mary's head indicates her integrity, the blue cloak - a symbol of Heaven - is her attribute. With this cover, the Mother of God protects and protects all believers. Yellow (along with white) is the color of the Holy Spirit. The yellow cloak on Elizabeth’s head indicates that the Holy Spirit came upon her at the sight of the Virgin and revealed to her the truth about her pregnancy.

In accordance with the traditions of mannerism, the composition of the work is full of drama, reinforced by the sharp contrast between light and shadow. Most of the painting is occupied by the figures of Mary and Elizabeth, greeting each other. The face of the Virgin is serious, as if all future experiences and sufferings of the Mother of the Savior are reflected on it. Elizabeth opens her arms, as if trying to hide from future trials. Virgin Mary is accompanied by two women, her relatives - Maria Kleopova and Salome. They are spectators and witnesses of a significant meeting, piously frozen in prayer. In the upper right corner we see the old man Zachariah - the husband of Elizabeth. An expressive male figure (most likely it is Joseph, accompanying Mary), with an excited gesture, points to him women.

The artist’s skill is such that, despite the seemingly routine scene, we understand: the Sacrament is taking place - the Savior meets John the Baptist in the womb.

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