Madonna (Italian, My Laddy), a term applied in the language of art to representations of the Virgin Mary. Such representations first made their appearance after the 5th century, when the Virgin was declared to be the "Mother of God." The face of the mother is generally full, oval, and of a mild expression; a veil adorns the hair. At first the lineaments of the Virgin's countenance were copied from the older pictures of Christ, according to the tradition which declared that the Savior resembled his mother. A chronological arrangement of the pictures of the Virgin would exhibit in a remarkable manner the development of the Roman Catholic doctrine on this subject. The Madonna has been a principal subject of the pencils of the great masters. The grandest success has been achieved by Raphael (q.v.), in whose pictures of the Madonna there prevails now the loving mother, now the ideal of feminine beauty, until in that of St. Sixtus there is reached the most glorious representation of the "Queen of Heaven." Murillo's "Conceptions" also should be noticed here. SEE MURILLO. One of these has lately been presented to the American public in chromo by the American art publisher Prang, of Boston.
Among symbolic representations may be mentioned Mary with the white mantle, i.e. the mantle of love under which she receives the faithful; and the Virgin with the half-moon or with the globe under her feet, according to the meaning put upon the twelfth chapter of Revelation. The Virgin was never represented without the Child until comparatively recent times. See Mrs. Jameson's delightful work, Legends of the Madonna (3d ed. Lond. 1863, 8vo); Christian Remembrancer, 1868 (July), p. 130; Old and New, 1872 (April).