About this artwork
Widowhood was an uncertain social state in the sixteenth century; it could be either liberating or severely restrictive. For these women, adopting the lifestyle of a nun and living in a convent was a common occurrence. This medallion with a portrait of a noble widow, perhaps Saint Margaret of Lorraine, was used by such courtly widows as an aid to meditation and spiritual support.
The back side of the medallion depicts a heavenly vision with two widows praying the rosary before the Virgin and Child. The Latin inscription along the rim is the opening to their prayer asking the Virgin to intercede to God on their behalf. The painter’s delicate handling of color and perspective seems to acknowledge the spiritual nature of the subject.
- Léonard Limosin
- Medallion, probably Margaret of Lorraine (recto); the Virgin Seated on a Throne Before Two Widows (verso)
- Painted enamel on copper
- Diam. 8.8 cm (3 7/16 in.)
- The Helmuth Bartsch and Neville and John H. Bryan endowment funds