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Originally painted as a watercolor, French artist and illustrator James Tissot captures the moment the blessed virgin Mary recites the Magnificat while visiting her relations Elizabeth and Zacharias (notice them looking on in the background).
The Virgin Mary raises her hands in a gesture of praise and prayer while reciting the Magnificat in response to Elizabeth’s statement:
“And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord.
And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is his name. And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him. He hath shewed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy: As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever.” – LK 1:45-55
Tissot was known for spending time in the Holy Land and painting a plethora of scenes from the life of Christ. What particularly sets him aside from other artists’ renditions of the life of Christ is his authenticity in displaying accurately the ethnic garb and customs that were in place while Christ walked the earth. Though this deviates from many of the typical Western-art depictions of the life of Christ, the viewer has the opportunity for a more historically accurate glimpse into the true visual appearances of the time.
Many of Tissot’s artistic renditions also reveal some never-before seen ‘footage’ of the life of Christ. Two paintings in particular demonstrate this concept: What Our Savior Saw from the Cross and The Virgin Mary in Old Age. The first depicts the crucifixion through the eyes of Christ, and the second depicts our Blessed Mother kneeling on Mt. Calvary at the hole where the cross of her Son once rested.