According to medieval legend, as a girl the Virgin Mary lived in the Temple in Jerusalem, where she devoted herself to praying and sewing vestments. This was a subject particularly popular in seventeenth-century Italian and Spanish paintings, where the little Virgin—devout and busy at her tasks—served as a model of behavior for young girls. The delicate handling of the Virgin’s face and attention to detail in the still-life elements, each neatly individuated and meticulously placed, are characteristic of Zurbarán’s work.


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