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Gum tempera, ink, and gold on paper
Page: 26.2 x 15.5 cm (10 5/16 x 6 1/8 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 2005.145.9.a
Mary’s instructor awaits her, book in hand, at the top of a temple of learning.
In this scene from a noncanonical European source on the life of the Virgin Mary, her parents have brought their three-year-old daughter to the temple to be educated. According to the text it was tradition on such occasions for a priest to read a chapter from the Psalms as the child slowly progressed up each of the 15 steps. However, as soon as Mary placed her foot on the first step she pulled her hand away from her guide and quickly walked up the steep staircase without stopping or looking back. The figures around the temple gesture in surprise at her determination and eagerness to enter the service of God.
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