RENI, Guido
(b. 1575, Calvenzano, d. 1642, Bologna)

Mary Sewing the Shirt for the Christ Child (Service in the Temple)

Cappella dell'Annunziata, Palazzo del Quirinale, Rome

The only narrative wall painting in the choir, on the left wall, is striking because of its unusual and rarely depicted subject matter. Mary, wearing a red dress and with her hair falling loosely across her shoulders, is bent over her sewing. She is framed by two adult angels while above her hover two putti with inscription ribbons alluding to her predestined role as mother of God (VOCAVIT IS QUI VOCAT EAM A PRINCIPIO). The scene is read as Mary's service in the temple, preceding the Annunciation. According to the Golden legend, this phase in Mary's life was characterized by daily prayer and needlework that caused her to become more holy while experiencing the constant company of angels.

The seven putti above were painted by Francesco Albani.