This relatively small painting may have been intended as a devotional piece, where the purchaser might hang it within their bedroom. It is sized at only 59.5cm in height, by 38.5cm in width, making it amongst the artist's smallest paintings. It may also have been that as she grew older, Artemisia was less able and willing to work on the huge canvases found earlier in her career, some of which stood at over three metres in height.
In any case, Virgin and Child with a Rosary is still a delightful piece. Many elements of this artwork do not correspond directly with the artist's main body of work, but the piece has still been accepted into her oeuvre by a number of respected experts.
This touching scene features the Virgin Mary hanging a necklace with a small cross in front of her child. Their eyes are fixed towards each other, helping us to understand the close bond between mother and child. The mother's arm carefully supports the child, who is lying back on her left leg, again giving this impression of motherly protection and love.
The Virgin are traditionally signified by the use of blue colours in her clothing, particularly within the Renaissance, but in this Baroque example the artist chooses to use a blue cloth for the child. The Virgin is dressed in a bright tone of red, with yellow embroidered elements around her neckline.
Gentileschi was a master of drapery and would incorporate elements of this into many of her paintings. In this example we find it most obviously in the background, with some tied curtains in green to the right hand side. Typically she would leave her backgrounds entirely blackened out, but adds a little more interest within Virgin and Child with a Rosary.
Size, Medium and Location
This small artwork measures 59.5cm long, by 38.5cm wide. It was completed in 1651, by which time artist Artemisia Gentileschi would have been around 58 years of age, and certainly towards the end of her career.
The painting itself, which was produced using oils on copper, resides today at the El Escorial, which is around 45km from the Spanish city of Madrid. This residence hosts a wealth of other artistic and architectural items, displaying much of the finest work that Spain, plus the rest of Europe, has to offer.
Famous Paintings by Artemisia Gentileschi
Artemisia's Judith Slaying Holofernes (Naples) and Judith Slaying Holofernes (Florence) remain her most famous contributions, though there is plenty more to enjoy from her oeuvre. Indeed, some of her paintings were originally attributed to others, before corrections have been made relatively recently. There may yet be more items to discover, with experts now knowing much more about her life than they did before, though with plenty more still to learn.
Large Image of Virgin and Child with a Rosary
See below for a larger image of the original work. This features more of the impressive touches of drapery, as well as the facial expressions of mother and child, in this touching, charming and well executed piece. It also provides an example of the additional benefits brought about by female artists, delivering work with a new perspective and understanding that their male counterparts could not match.