Swoon of the Virgin

  • the virgin fainting at the crucifixion, copy of taddeo zuccari[1]
    terracotta modello, antonio begarelli, c. 1530
    the descent from the cross c. 1435, by rogier van der weyden. museo del prado

    the swoon of the virgin, in italian lo spasimo della vergine, or fainting virgin mary was an idea developed in the late middle ages, that the virgin mary had fainted during the passion of christ, most often placed while she watched the crucifixion of jesus. it was based on mentions in later texts of the apocryphal gospel the acta pilati, which describe mary swooning. it was popular in later medieval art and theological literature, but as it was not mentioned in the canonical gospels, it became controversial, and from the 16th century was discouraged by many senior churchmen.

    the swoon might be placed during the episode of christ carrying the cross, as on the via dolorosa in jerusalem, but very commonly also during the crucifixion of jesus; nicholas penny estimates that "about half of the surviving paintings of the crucifixion made between 1300 and 1500 will be found to include the virgin fainting".[2] it also appeared in works showing the deposition from the cross and entombment of christ,[3] as well as the 15th-century novelty of christ taking leave of his mother.

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The Virgin fainting at the Crucifixion, copy of Taddeo Zuccari[1]

The Swoon of the Virgin, in Italian Lo Spasimo della Vergine, or Fainting Virgin Mary was an idea developed in the late Middle Ages, that the Virgin Mary had fainted during the Passion of Christ, most often placed while she watched the Crucifixion of Jesus. It was based on mentions in later texts of the apocryphal gospel the Acta Pilati, which describe Mary swooning. It was popular in later medieval art and theological literature, but as it was not mentioned in the Canonical Gospels, it became controversial, and from the 16th century was discouraged by many senior churchmen.

The swoon might be placed during the episode of Christ Carrying the Cross, as on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, but very commonly also during the Crucifixion of Jesus; Nicholas Penny estimates that "about half of the surviving paintings of the Crucifixion made between 1300 and 1500 will be found to include the Virgin fainting".[2] It also appeared in works showing the Deposition from the Cross and Entombment of Christ,[3] as well as the 15th-century novelty of Christ taking leave of his Mother.

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