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The Virgin and Child with St Anne

Author: Jurgis Balsevičius
Created:second half of the 19th century
Technique:carving, remains of colour paint
Dimensions:38 cm


St Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary, is often portrayed in folk sculpture as teaching her daughter to read. These scenes were called ‘Anne Teaching Mary’ or ‘Anne the Teacher’ in folk sculpture. According to the story, St Anne lived in Bethlehem, and was married to St Joachim, but for 20 years they had not been able to have a child. When she was praying fervently one day, an angel appeared to her and announced that she would give birth to a baby. When her daughter Mary was born, Anne presented her to God. St Anne is considered the perfect embodiment of motherhood, for she brought Mary up in a sacred atmosphere. People regard her as a patron of families, children and mothers, and sculptures of her were often placed in shrines near homes.

Jurgis Balsevičius, a religious carver from Vainutas, carved The Virgin and Child with St Anne, which is rather rare in folk sculpture. St Anne is sitting with the Infant Jesus on her lap, and the Virgin Mary is standing by her side. Mary is portrayed disproportionately small in this work, similar to how she is represented in works from the 15th and 16th centuries. The craftsman must have taken Gothic religious art as an example, or maybe he made Mary’s figure smaller simply in order to highlight St Anne’s importance.

Text author Skaidrė Urbonienė

Source: Law firm Valiunas Ellex art album HEAVEN AND BEYOND (2016). Compiler Dalia Vasiliūnienė. Text authors Dalia Vasiliūnienė, Skaidrė Urbonienė
Expositions: “Heaven and Beyond. Works of religious art from the collection of Rolandas Valiūnas and the law firm Valiunas Ellex“, 31 May–24 September 2016, Church Heritage Museum, Vilnius (curators Dalia Vasiliūnienė, Skaidrė Urbonienė)