The Girlhood of Mary Virgin
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)
Oil on canvas
32 3/4 x23 3/4 inches.
Tate Gallery, London (image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported) license)
Here, the Virgin Mary is shown as a young woman with her parents around her, her mother Anne instructing her in her embroidery, and her father Joachim tending the vines outside. The homeliness of the scene is belied by details such as the halo around a watching dove, representing the Holy Ghost, and the diminutive angel, also tending a plant: a lily, which is just beginning to flower. Mary seems aware of him, and her solemn expression acknowledges something of her destiny.