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Arts of Europe

The MFAH collections of art created on the European continent encompass artistic styles across the time line of history, from the ancient world to the Middle Ages, and the Early Modern era to the 21st century.

Italian, 1634 - 1705
Madonna and Child with Souls in Purgatory
c. 1665
Oil on canvas

81 5/8 x 61 1/4 inches

Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation, Houston
Arts of Europe

The Virgin Mary, clad in a red robe and blue mantle, holds the Christ Child and hovers on a bank of clouds over a group of souls in purgatory, who seek her intercession for their release. Nearby, a putto holds a brown scapular, a Carmelite symbol of devotion to Mary.

Over the course of a long career, Luca Giordano painted thousands of pictures and earned the nickname Luca fa presto (Luca works fast). Sometimes accused of painting too fast, Giordano acknowledged that he used “three sorts of brushes, one of gold, one of silver, and one of copper,” a metaphor for three levels of quality and price.