Virgin of the Apocalypse
In this painting the Virgin Mary is depicted as the Woman of the Apocalypse, an image type derived from the Book of Revelation described as "a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars" (12:1). Bathed in the rays of a golden light, the Virgin stands atop a crescent moon, while below her angels in Heaven wage a war against evil. At lower right, the Archangel Saint Michael holds aloft an arrow-tipped cross, ready to strike a lethal blow against the Devil, portrayed here in the guise of a "great red dragon with seven heads," an image also derived from the Book of Revelation (12:3).
Although the artist is unknown, the painting was made in the 1700s, probably in the South American city of Quito, the capital of present-day Ecuador. Its composition is based on several engravings from the book, Conceptvs Chronographicvs De Concepta Sacra Deipara, a compilation of emblems and chronograms concerning the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. Written by Joseph Zoller, a member of the Benedictine Order, the book was published in two editions in Augsburg, Germany in 1712 and 1720. The overall composition of the painting is closely modeled after the book’s frontispiece, an engraving by Philipp Jakob Leidenhoffer (d. 1714). However, the painter creatively reinterpreted his or her source: in the engraving the angels’ shields contain only text; in the painting the artist elected to replace the text with pictorial emblems from multiple engravings throughout Zoller’s book.
--Sabena Kull, 2017-18 Mayer Fellow for Spanish Colonial Art
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