Madonna and Child with Saint Anne

Title: Madonna and Child with Saint Anne

Date: 1605

Location of the work: The Borghese Gallery, Rome, Italy

Medium: Oil on Canvas

Approximate dimensions of work: 115 in x 83 in

This is an allegorical work done by Baroque artist Caravaggio painted for an alter of the papal grooms. In this painting we see Mary, with the help of Jesus, crushing the head of the serpent, which symbolizes evil and original sin, while Sainte Anne watches lovingly. We are reminded of the prophecy found in Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

This painting was seen as somewhat shocking during its time, due to Sainte Anne’s unflattering wrinkled appearance, Mary’s revealing bodice, and Jesus appearing as a fully naked uncircumcised child. However this picture is very powerful because Caravaggio uses an everyday scene, in which all of these characters look like they belong in the Baroque era. The only distinguishing features are the thin halos above Mary and Saint Anne’s heads. This scene allows you to place yourself in this common scene, and yet it is one with so much Spiritual meaning. Caravaggio uses a large amount of light on the characters and little background scenery to assure that our attention is on the three figures and the action taking place in this painting.