Artwork of the Week: August 15, 2022
Pietro Berrettini Da Cortona, The Assumption, 16th Century, graphite, 14 7/16 x 7 3/8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchase/gift of Mahonri M. Young Estate 820038973.
August 15th is regarded in the Catholic Church as The Feast of the Assumption, commemorating the day that Mary was received into heaven to be with her Son, an event known as the Assumption. Churchgoing Catholics traditionally attend mass on this Holy Day. Though officially celebrated since the eighth century, Assumption Day is not observed as extravagantly in Canada and America as in other countries but some churches still organize events with food, music, dancing, and fireworks in honor of the Virgin Mary’s ascent to heaven.
The Assumption of the Virgin was a popular subject in religious art, as it signified Mary’s holy status and her place in heaven as an advocate of the faithful. This dynamic sketch shows the Virgin physically rising heavenward, her drapery billowing. Her raised arms imply her embrace of Deity. Below, a group of onlookers—likely the disciples—respond in awe, shielding their eyes as if implying Mary’s glory.