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Why The Virgin Mary’s Bare Breast Caused a Problem for Artists

Art’s difficulty in showing the lactating Virgin

Madonna and Child (1370s) by Paolo di Giovanni Fei. Tempera on wood, gold ground. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Image source The Met (public domain)

Paintings of the Nursing Madonna presented artists with a unique problem. How do you show the Virgin Mary with a single bare breast for the Christ Child to suckle whilst maintaining her modesty?




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Christopher P Jones

Christopher P Jones

Art writer, critic, novelist, artist. See my links at

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