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Sculpture of Virgin of Sorrows (Mater Dolorosa) made by  Pedro de Mena (1628-1688)

This mesmerizingly beautiful and intensely naturalistic image of the Mater Dolorosa was made when the great Baroque Spanish sculptor Pedro de Mena was at the height of his creative powers. Its understated pathos is combined with startling realism, created by the naturalistically painted flesh tones, the glass eyes and tear drops and the real hair eyelashes. The unusual under life-size scale, the care lavished on the carving and painting, and the fact that the back is fully finished, indicate that the bust was designed to be seen close up and fully in the round. It is not known for whom the Mater Dolorosa was made, but the quality of workmanship suggests it was made for a discerning patron to aid devotion. It was probably displayed in a private chapel, study or bedchamber, where it would almost certainly have been protected under a glass dome and originally paired with a similarly-sized bust of Christ as the Man of Sorrows (Ecce Homo).