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Copperplate engraving.

This eighteenth century devotional in Italian and Latin was commissioned by the Marquess of Tito, presumably a nobleman of the Kingdom of Naples under Ferdinand IV. The Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a devotion to engender compassion for the sufferings of Mary, Mother of God. According to scholars, “underlying all consideration of the sorrows of Mary by Christians is the fact of her presence ‘by the cross of Jesus’ (John 19:25).” This devotional focuses on the sorrows of Virgin Mary, starting with the prophecy of Simeon and ending at Calvary. It features devout prayers attributed to Saint Bonaventure (ca. 1217-1274).

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The iconography of this eighteenth century illustration is very similar to that of the sixteenth century Missal. The figures are the same, but they are positioned much closer to the Cross, showing little detail of the landscape in the background. This close-up view provides a more intimate feeling than the earlier illustration, as if the artist imagined that a moment of private lament could be shared among the four. One of the key differences from the earlier illustration is the figure of the Virgin Mary, who is positioned very closely to the figure of Christ with her hands clasped together in prayer. She is at the very center of the illustration; her eyes gaze up to the face of her suffering son. The face of St. John next to her is shaded very darkly. Mary Magdalene is in the foreground with her hand around the Cross, covering the feet of Christ.