213 cm x 146 cm (83 7/8 in. x 57 1/2 in.)
(Bologna, Italy, 1557 - 1629, Milan, Italy)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Purchase through the generosity of Suzan and Julius Glickman, M.K. Hage, Jr., Derek Johns, Lawrence Lawver, Susan Thomas, Julia Wilkinson, and Jimmy and Jessica Younger, 2005
Mary glides into the scene as the sunlight before dusk enriches the palette with a golden vibrancy. With Jesus in her womb, she will spend the next three months with her cousin, Elizabeth, who is six months pregnant. At the sound of Mary’s voice, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit as the child in her womb leaps for joy. While Mary’s husband Joseph is not present in the scripture, he appears to the right of the Virgin as a narrative device to evidence Zacharias’s muteness. Because Zacharias doubted his wife’s ability to conceive, the angel Gabriel punished his lack of faith by rendering him mute until the birth of his son, John the Baptist. Here, Zacharias gestures his salutations to Joseph, whose furrowed gaze is troubled by his lack of speech.
The Visitation is a popular scene from the life of the Virgin, having been depicted by Camillo Procaccini numerous times. A preparatory drawing for the present piece is kept at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan.