Mary's Compositional Rise and Fall

Marissa L. Smith

In order to understand why the predominance of Mary declined following the Renaissance period, one must assess what factors contributed to her rise in composition, and how these elements affected her fall. Mary's role as the ideal Renaissance woman made her a palpable choice when creating artwork, a role undoubtedly influenced by society's strict and unquestioned devotion to the Roman Catholic Church. It was not until the introduction of the Protestant Reformation that the Catholic Church started to lose popularity, which ultimately led to the decline in the use of Mary's image. Furthermore, the loss of faith is ubiquitous in today's secular society, causing a recession in the religions that still honor the Virgin. Mary has lost the reverence and veneration displayed during the Italian Renaissance due to the changes in the cultural expectations of women, as well as from the emergence of several different Christian denominations as opposed to the unified Catholicism that existed during the 14th and 15th century.

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