(b. ca. 1425, Urbino, d. 1484, Urbino)

The Birth of the Virgin (detail)

Tempera and oil on wood
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

It is remarkable that the mother of the child - rather young for Saint Anne - is depicted lying in bed nude. Virtually every fifteenth-century scene of the Birth of the Virgin shows Anne reclining in bed, decorously dressed to receive visitors. However, the three maids attending Saint Anne - unlike the woman seated alongside her - are clothed all'antica. This implies that the birth has been imagined as a past event refracted through contemporary life.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.