The National Museum of Western Art

update 14 September 2021

Currently not on display

Carlo Dolci [Florence, 1616 - Florence, 1687]

Mater Dolorosa

Dateca. 1655
Materials/Techniquesoil on canvas
Size (cm)82.5 x 67
InscriptionsInscribed on the reverse: REGINA MARTIRUM ORA PRO NOBIS
Credit LinePurchased
Collection NumberP.1998-0002
Mater Dolorosa

This elegant work was created around 1655 when Carlo Dolci was 39 years old. The dark background yields to a faint light surrounding a beautifully sad image of the Madonna, wrapped in a blue robe created in deep lapis lazuli pigment. These factors all conspire to deeply appeal to the viewer. According to F. Bardinucci, the first to write a detailed biography of Dolci, from an early age Dolci was deeply faithful and was a lifelong member of the Order of St. Benedict. In addition to his large-scale religious works, around 1650 he began to paint relatively small-scale works depicting various half-length portraits of saints. This work is an extremely fine example of this type. The model for this image of the Madonna with folded hands can be found in the Madonna images of Titian, and the source for Titian's images may be found in the images of the Madonna that were extremely popular in Spain during the 16th-17th centuries. Dolci's paintings of the Madonna in this style became quite popular; there is one known extant copy of this work and other images of the Madonna with slightly different compositions are known. For many years the model for this painting was thought to be the painter's wife Teresa Bucherelli, whom he married in 1654, but comparisons with known portrait drawings of his wife reveal some questions about this attribution of the sitter. (Source: Masterpieces of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 2009, cat. no. 22)


Possibly the like-sized oval Madonna from the Colonna Collection, Palazzo Colonna, Rome; sold in London by W. Young Ottley, 24 January 1801, lot 12; Carlo Dorci Madonna Dolorata Oval-2 ft. 8 ins. high by 2 ft. 2 ins. wide; Duke of Buckingham and Chandos until 1848; Lord Dudley and Ward 1848-1892; Christie's London, 8 December 1892, lot 60, bt by Mr. Dunthorne; Purchased by the NMWA, 1999.

Exhibition History

Trafalgar Galleries: XII, London, 23 November 1993 - 10 December 1993, no. 12
Tanka at the National Museum of Western Art: An Encounter between Poet and Art, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 25 July 2000 - 29 October 2000, cat. no. 11
Masterpieces from the Vatican Museums and Christian Culture in Japan, Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture, 1 November 2008 - 12 January 2009, cat. no. 224, col. repr.
[Traveling Exhibitions Presenting National Art Museum Collections, Fiscal 2017] Muse: Women before the Artists' Eyes: From the Collection of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, Fukushima Prefectural Museum of Art, 22 April 2017 - 2 July 2017, Akita Museum of Modern Art, 15 July-18 September, cat. no. 12


Forster, Herny R. The Stowe Catalogue. London, 1848, lot 404.
Waagen, G. Treasures of Art in Great Britain. vol. 2, London, 1854, p. 232.
Graves, A. Art Sales. London, 1918, p. 230.
The Provenance Index of the Getty Art History Information Program. Index of Paintings Sold in the British Isles. vol. 1, 1801-5, 1988, p. 237.
Baldassari, F. Carlo Dorci. Turin, 1995, no. 99.
Annual Bulletin of the National Museum of Western Art. No. 33 (April 1998-March 1999), 2000, Koshikawa, Michiaki. New Acquisitions. pp. 12-14, List of New Acquisitions. p. 44, col. repr.pp. 12-14, repr.
Masterpieces of The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art; Tokyo, The Western Art Foundation, 2006 (Japanese, preface in Japanese and English), no. 22, col. repr.
Masterpieces of The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art; Tokyo, The Western Art Foundation, 2009, no. 22, col. repr.
Masterpieces: The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. Tokyo, The Western Art Foundation, 2013 (Japanese, preface in Japanese and English), no. 37, col. repr.

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