Dante Gabriel Rossetti

The Girlhood of Mary Virgin

1848–9

On display at Tate Britain

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 832 x 654 mm
frame: 1080 x 905 x 75 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Bequeathed by Lady Jekyll 1937
Reference
N04872

Display caption

The Virgin Mary is shown here as a young girl, working on an embroidery guided by her mother, Anne. Her father, Joachim, is shown pruning a vine. The picture is full of symbolic details. The palm branch and thorn on the floor allude to Christ’s Passion, the lilies to the Virgin’s purity, and the books to the virtues of hope, faith and charity. The dove represents the Holy Spirit. This was Rossetti’s first completed oil painting and the first picture to be exhibited with the initials ‘PRB’, for Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, inscribed on it.

Gallery label, November 2016

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