Marianne Stokes, Angels Entertaining the Holy Child, c. 1893, oil canvas. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by Roy and Carol Christensen, 2015.
This moment of tender respite by Austrian-British artist Marianne Stokes celebrates Mary’s devotion as nurturer of the Messiah. Clothed in rich blue robes—symbolic of her queenly role as chosen mother—Mary slumbers, her hands still cradling her precious Son. While the young mother rests, two vibrantly-robed angels “keep their watch of wondering love,” as they serenade the wide-eyed Holy infant. The sensitive portrayal of the young Mary evidences the physical, emotional and spiritual weight of her sacred stewardship as mother and guardian of the Holy Child. Marianne Stokes was and is yet regarded as one of the most influential women artists of the late Victorian era. This sizeable canvas was included in the 1893 Royal Academy exhibition where it was celebrated both for its rich, vibrant paint and its strong emotive quality.