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Smithsonian Institution

D.C. exhibit on Virgin Mary raises questions about art, religion

D.C. exhibit on Virgin Mary raises questions about art, religion

A stunning new exhibit on the Virgin Mary at a Washington museum includes an etching by Rembrandt so intentionally hazy it seemingly captures the precise moment in which the aged Madonna passes from life to death. A 16th-century painting by Caravaggio hangs arrestingly at eye level, allowing visitors to stand close enough to pick out every feather on the black-winged angel in "Rest on the Flight to Egypt." And one of the rare female artists of the era, Sofonisba Anguissola, gazes out at viewers with a cool self-confidence in her 1556 painting, "Self-Portrait at the Easel" — in which the artist is seen as she paints an image of the Virgin and Child — boldly...

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