Hours of the Compassion of the Virgin, fol. 92v

Da Costa hours
Illuminated by Simon Bening (1483/84–1561)

Ghent, Belgium
ca. 1515
172 x 125 mm

Purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913), 1910

MS M.399, fol. 92v

Virgin Mary: Miracle of Seven Sorrows—Within a central panel, a nimbed Virgin Mary wearing a wimpled veil is seated with her hands folded in her lap. She is pierced by five swords (sword of compassion). In seven panels around her, the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin are depicted, clockwise from the top left corner:

1) Christ: Bearing cross―Christ, shown with a rayed nimbus, bears a tau-cross over His shoulder. He is behind soldiers and is followed by a nimbed Virgin Mary and two Holy Women.

2) Christ: Crucifixion―Christ, shown with a rayed nimbus and wearing a loin cloth, is affixed with three nails to a tau cross. Next to Him on one side is the Virgin Mary, nimbed and veiled, partly kneeling with her hands crossed at her breast. On His other side is a nimbed Evangelist John with his clasped hands raised to his cheek.

3) Christ: Pietà—A nimbed and veiled Virgin Mary is seated at the base of the cross. She supports the body of Christ, who has a rayed nimbus, on her lap, and her joined hands are raised.

4) Christ: Entombment―Joseph of Arimathea and a nimbed Evangelist John lower the shrouded body of Christ, who has a rayed nimbus, into a sarcophagus. A nimbed and veiled Virgin Mary with hands clasped at her breast and a Holy Woman look on.

5) Christ: Presentation—A nimbed and veiled Virgin Mary supports the nimbed Christ Child, who is standing on an altar. Simeon extends both his hands towards Him. Several figures, including Joseph the Carpenter with a basket of doves and Anna Prophetess with a candle, look on.

6) Christ: Flight into Egypt―A nimbed and veiled Virgin Mary holding the Christ Child in both arms, rides sideways on an ass. She follows Joseph the Carpenter, holding a staff and sack over his shoulder.

7) Christ: Among doctors—A nimbed Christ Child stands at the top of stairs on a platform amid doctors. A nimbed and veiled Virgin Mary appears on the left. The miniature is surrounded and divided into the eight panels by an illusionistic wood frame.


Image courtesy of Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, Graz/Austria.