Our Lady of Montserrat

Artist/maker unknown, Mexican

Made in Mexico, North and Central America

18th century

Oil on canvas

60 1/4 × 53 3/16 inches (153 × 135.1 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Gallery 272, European Art 1500-1850, second floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
The Dr. Robert H. Lamborn Collection, 1903

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In the background of this painting is a serrated ridge aptly named Montserrat (Mons Serratus in Latin), the famous mountain in Spain that was known as the site of the miracle of the Black Virgin. According to legend, a statue of the Virgin and Child that had been hidden in the mountain during the Moorish invasion of A.D. 717 was later miraculously rediscovered by shepherds. Both France and Spain have a long tradition of Black Virgins-statues or paintings of the enthroned Virgin and Child with dark complexions. Believers attributed the darkening of the faces to miraculous causes and related it to the Song of Solomon (Song of Songs) in the Old Testament, particularly the line, "I am black, but beautiful" (Song of Sol. 1:5).

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