Mary and the Pious Women Mourning

This group of painted wood sculptures of mourners at the Crucifixion -- Mary and two other pious women -- was likely originally displayed beneath a crucifix on the high altar of San Vittore in Varese. It is now on a side altar in the same church, beneath a crucifix that comes from another church in Varese. The work has long been subject to great local devotion. One act of devotion common over the centuries was to repaint polychrome sculptures, and this group was heavily repainted likely in the nineteenth century, and so the original surface is not visible. These heavy but also fluid figures are very similar to sculptures of the same subject by Andrea da Saronno in the Sanctuary in Saronno, and so the Varese group has been attributed to the same artist and dated to the following decade: c. 1535-40. As one woman bends solicitously to support Mary and the other opens her mouth wide in a scream and dabs her tears iwht her cloak in a broad rhetorical gesture, Mary starts to collapse in a faint. Her arms fall open, and so she takes a pose that mirrors that of Christ on the Cross -- Mary is the exemplar of compassion (the root of which word means suffering the Passion with Christ). Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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