Antonio Vassilacchi, Presentation of Mary in the Temple

Oil on canvas
Church of St. Zacharias, Venice, Italy

As in Tintoretto's painting of this subject, one mother at the bottom of the steps encourages her own daughter to follow Mary's example while another turns her back on the scene and attends to her own child.

This is the only painting I know of in which Mary carries a candle up the steps. Ironically, she and her candle are enveloped in full natural light, while the candles held by the priests are in dark shadows that they illumine only feebly, an effect also borrowed from Tintoretto. The contrast speaks to the difference between the dim shadows of the Old Law and the new light that Mary will be bringing into the world.

(I should point out that the splash of light on the left is not part of the composition but is actual light that happened to shine on the painting when the photograph was taken.)

The obelisk in the background is drawn from Titian's painting on the same subject and is also depicted in the Tintoretto Presentation. See my page on Titian's version for a discussion of the role the obelisk plays in the iconography.

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Read more about Mary's presentation in the Temple.

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