Birth of Mary

Vittore Carpaccio
1502-1504

This belongs to a series of paintings made for the Scuola degli Albanesi in Venice and now divided between several museums. In a domestic interior, St. Anne, mother of Mary, is resting after childbirth. The midwife prepares a bath for the baby girl while the elderly husband Joachim looks on from a slight distance. The story has a wealth of symbolic details: the rabbits nibbling a cabbage leaf allude to Mary’s virginity; written in Hebrew, “Holy Holy Holy in Heaven, blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord” is connected to the name of Christ engraved on the door jamb.

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