Don Silvestro dei Gherarducci, Initial G with the Birth of the Virgin

Florence, Circa 1373
Tempera, gold, and ink on parchment
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 21.163

Like many images of Mary's birth, this one echoes Nativity scenes but sets the event in a sumptuously appointed private residence. The woman in bed is St. Anne, the mother. The midwife is mentioned in the Protevangelium. The woman standing before the bed in blue has a halo, so she may be Elizabeth, the kinswoman whom the grown Mary visited in Luke 2:39-56. In the Golden Legend, Elizabeth was the daughter of Hismeria, Anne's sister. Thus it is also possible that Hismeria is the woman behind the bed, wearing a mantle of the same blue color as Elizabeth's.

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