May 14th 2021

“The Virgin of the Rosary”,  1675 -80, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Dulwich Picture Gallery London.   You can view this image in higher resolution at

Murillo painted the subject of the Virgin of the Rosary at least seven times. This is his last one.  In all of these paintings, the Virgin is seated with the child Jesus in her arms holding rosary beads. In all of them both mother and child look out at the viewer.  This work is noted as a good example of the late style of Murillo in which contours are softened and a gentle light suffuses the image.  The Virgin is shown seated on heavenly clouds with cherubs at her feet.   The view point is from below so that the viewer looks up at the mother and child..  The cherub’s are in motion but the mother and child are still and focused on the viewer.  The viewer might well be kneeling below them praying the Rosary.  Devotion to the Virgin of the Rosary was strong in Murillo’s Seville. The devotion was widespread but the principal promoters were the Dominican Order.  Murillo was a member of the Confraternity of the Rosary in his local Dominican Parish from 1644.  He had strong links with the Order and his daughter became a Dominican Nun in 1671. It is not known who commissioned this painting but it is evident that no expense was spared.  The canvas used was linen with a finely woven pattern of crosses and squares.  The expensive pigment ultramarine blue was used in the glazes on the Virgin’s garments.   And yet, as majestic as the setting is,  and as costly the materials used,  this mother and child still look like real people. 


Edinburgh Catholic Chaplaincy

The Catholic Chaplaincy serves the students and staff of the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University and Queen Margaret University.

The Catholic Chaplaincy is also a parish of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh (the Parish of St Albert the Great) and all Catholic students and staff are automatically members of this parish.

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