Posted by: Valentino Radman | June 19, 2012

Madonna and Child by Marianne Stokes, painted in Dubrovnik

Painted in 1905. in Dubrovnik, on the Croatian coast, the model for the Virgin Mary was a local girl from the city. The costume is representative of a traditional clothing of Dubrovnik’s woman from the time, and provides a bright focus for Stokes to express her style as a colourist. In the background Stokes surrounds the Holy mother and child with thorny stems seeming to refer to the future crucifixion of Christ.

Stokes’ interest in biblical themes is typical of the artists of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, whom she admired.  The sketch for this painting depicts the same young woman with beautiful blue eyes, but without the child.

This painting become famous when the British Royal Mail used it for the Christmas first class stamp in 2005. Cardinal Keith O’Brien has congratulated the Royal Mail on the designs chosen for the occasion, and added that in addition to sending Stokes’ Madonna and Child Christmas card to every one of the world’s 180 Cardinals, he has also sent a card to Pope Benedict XVI.


Marianne Stokes (1855 – 1927)

Born in Southern Austria in 1855 Marianne Preindlsberger Stokes studied art in Munich. Financially independent after winning a prize for her talent she travelled to France where she studied under artists including Dagnan-Bouveret and Courtois. In 1884 she married English artist and writer Adrian Stokes and they travelled extensively throughout Europe. On one of those travels they visited Croatia and have stayed in Zagreb, Rijeka and Dubrovnik. Enchanted by the beauty of Dalmatian coast, particularly Dubrovnik, they produced many paintings there. Marianne focused on portraiture and the religious subjects, while her husband Adrian Scott Stokes, inspired by the beautiful Dalmatian scenery, preferred landscapes.

From the late 1890s Stokes steadily moved her area of interest towards religious, portraiture and historical subjects similar to that of the later Pre-Raphaelite movement. Marianne Stokes enjoyed a successful career as an artist and exhibited paintings at the Royal Academy from the end of the 1870s though to the 1900s.


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