The Visitation

First half of the 14th century
Marble relief
Detail from the west façade, Orvieto Cathedral, Italy

Mary and a quite old Elizabeth embrace while a young woman holds back a curtain, a detail very similar to one seen a century earlier in this detail from the Vézelay Abbey reliefs and eight centuries earlier in the Poreč Cathedral Annunciation. In those two images the house is made to look like a church. Here in Orvieto, where the space for the composition is very limited, the same idea is expressed by the Gothic arch above the curtain rod.

The Visitation is among the Nativity scenes from on the second through fourth registers of the relief.
At Mary's back a woman with mature features, probably not one of the virgins who accompany Mary's visit in some versions, carries a small pack on her shoulder. Is she a servant?

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More of the Visitation

Photographed at the cathedral by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.