Madonna of Sorrows and Astarte

Madonna of Sorrows

Sargent saw his Madonnas at the south end of the hall as “idols,” similar in this respect to the pagan images on the north ceiling vault. Thus, in the artist’s plan, both ends of the hall represent forms of idolatry from ages past. He designed his Madonna of Sorrows (the “Mater Dolorosa”), her heart pierced by the swords of her seven sorrows, as a kind of Christian Astarte. Located diagonally across the room from each other, both figures stand on crescent moons, drawing the viewer’s attention to the linkage between them.

Enlarge Madonna image
Left: Madonna of Sorrows, south end,
west wall niche, installed 1916
Oil on canvas with wood and metal reliefs
Right: Pagan Gods: Astarte, north ceiling vault
(1999 photos)
The Triumph of Religion