Dormition of the Virgin
Origin: Antwerp, Flanders
Dating: 16th century
Material: Oil on Canvas
Dimensions (cm): 138,3 x 214,8
Inv. no.: PD0475
According to the iconographic and liturgical tradition of the Church, during the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, the Disciples were spreading all over the world following Jesus and preaching the Gospel. However, the Disciples soon returned to Jerusalem in order to pay tribute to the Virgin, with the exception of Thomas. During the death of the Virgin, a holy Dormition, Jesus Christ came to take Her soul to Heaven.
The corporeal assumption of Mary was confirmed by the angel’s message as well as by the apparition of Virgin Mary to the apostles three days after her assumption into heaven, similar to Jesus Christ.
In what concerns this painting, we can observe thirteen characters representing, in the centre, the Virgin and around her the twelve Apostles. In the painting, each character has a different position, costume, gestures and facial expressions. The bodies, following a Mannerist style, are extremely elongated and robust, in opposition to the subtlety of the faces and costumes whose colours are mainly warm and vibrant.
The Virgin lies calm and quietly in a brown tomb and she rests on an antique light pink mattress. She is leaning against the headboard and reclined three quarters, showing a serene and small face. She wears a grey dress, a cloak and a blue veil. Her hands are crossed over her front as a symbol of the contradiction as well as of the love of God.
The symbolism of this scene is reinforced by the presence of some specific elements such as books, alluding to the Prayer; a palm which is the symbol of the martyrdom and is also traditionally associated with John, the Apostle, who led the funeral of the Virgin Mary, expelling evil; the lighted candle which was, generally, put in the dying person’s hand; the holy water urn and the hyssop are symbols of purification and reconciliation, together with the processional cross, which symbolises Redemption.