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In this work the artist creates a strikingly beautiful pair of figures whose serene poses and serious facial expressions project an aura of sadness without sentimentality. The Virgin is seated on a stone bench holding the Christ Child, who stands with one foot on his mother’s left leg and the other on the bench. He is beyond infancy, tall enough to be at eye level with his mother. With their touching cheeks and physical connection, the figures display the most tender and heartfelt gesture of love. Together they look at the viewer with solemn and subtle expressions of devotion for the object of their gaze: the worshipful spectator. Murillo was a member of the Confraternity of the Rosary, a society dedicated to the worship of the Virgin Mary, and as a devotional painting, The Virgin of the Rosary was created to serve as a visual aid to a viewer engaged in praying the rosary.

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