Hans Holbein the Elder: The dormition of Mary (1490)


(Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, Hungary)

A painting by the German artist Hans Holbein the Elder (1465-1524). The paintings show the death of Mary, more formally known as "the dormition of Mary (dormition comes from the Latin dormire, meaning "to sleep."). The whole scene comes from a 5th century legend known as the Dormition of Theotokos (“the one who gave birth to God”). According to the legend Mary was visited by the Archangel Gabriel who revealed to her that her death would occur three days later. Mary was granted a wish in which she asks to be united with all twelve apostles when she dies. The apostles, scattered throughout the world, are said to have been miraculously transported on clouds by angels to the house of Mary. On the third day Christ appeared above her bed in a halo of light surrounded by angels to accept the soul of Mary at the point when his name was finally mentioned (this is the small scene at the top). Three days later Christ reappeared to accept the body of Mary. Painting from 1490. See the link below for a painting by Andrea Mantegna with the same subject.


Andrea Mantegna: Death of the Virgin (1462-64)

Comments