WASHINGTON (AP) — Renaissance and Baroque artwork depicting Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, that is rarely seen in the United States is being showcased in Washington in time for Christmas.

On Friday, the National Museum of Women in the Arts opened the new exhibition “Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea.” The show, which is on view through April 12, features masterworks from major museums including the Louvre in Paris, the Uffizi gallery in Florence, Italy, and the Vatican museums in Rome.

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The exhibition examines how artists including Michelangelo, Botticelli and Caravaggio imagined and pictured Mary as a woman and mother from Jesus’ birth through his crucifixion. Mary was the most frequently depicted woman in Western art for generations until the 18th century, curators said.

Some of the more famous paintings brought to the U.S. for the exhibit include Botticelli’s “Madonna and Child” and Caravaggio’s early masterpiece, “Rest on the Flight into Egypt.” While most of the artworks were created by men, the exhibit also features works created by four women artists.

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Monsignor Timothy Verdon, director of the iconic Duomo museum in Florence, Italy, who curated the exhibit, said bringing these works together can appeal to religious or nonreligious observers looking back at art history. He noted Mary’s role appears in Christian, Jewish and Islamic texts.

“I believe this is an exhibit that can speak to believers of any faith or to nonbelievers on the basis of our universal experience,” he said.

The museum partnered with the Embassy of Italy and the Catholic University of America on programs surrounding the exhibit and is presenting an online exhibit featuring global representations of Mary from other parts of the world.
National Museum of Women in the Arts: http://nmwa.org/

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