Dante Gabriel Rossetti

The Girlhood of Mary Virgin

1848–9

In Tate Britain

Artist
Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1828–1882
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 832 × 654 mm
frame: 1080 × 905 × 75 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Bequeathed by Lady Jekyll 1937
Reference
N04872

Display caption

Christ’s mother Mary (modelled by Rosetti’s sister, Christina) is shown here as a girl. She works on an embroidery with her mother (portrayed by Rosetti’s mother, Frances). In the background, Mary’s father is shown pruning a vine. The painting is full of Christian symbolism. The palm branch and thorn on the floor represent Christ. The books symbolise hope, faith and charity. The dove signifies the Holy Spirit. Rossetti completed this painting when he was 20 years old. It was the first picture to be exhibited with the initials ‘PRB’. This stood for Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a secret society of young artists founded in London in 1848.

Gallery label, November 2019

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