Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Fine Arts

Committee Chair

Fulton, Christopher B.

Author's Keywords

Counter-Reformation; Art in counter-reformation; Virgin Mary; Cult of the Virgin; Paintings of Mary


Mary, Blessed Virgin, Saint--Art; Counter-Reformation in art; Barocci, Federigo, 1528-1612. Madonna del Popolo; Reni, Guido, 1575-1642. Immaculate Conception; Carracci, Annibale, 1560-1609. Assumption of the Virgin


This paper investigates the objectives of Counter-Reformation leaders as seen through the visual culture of the Virgin Mary in the time period. This study was completed by examining three paintings by three different artists: Federico Barocci, Madonna del Popolo, 1579; Guido Reni, Immaculate Conception, 1627; and Annibale Carracci, Assumption of the Virgin, 1592. Although these painters all embrace the Catholic ideology of the time, this study highlights the many differences that exist between them as a result of their individualized influences as artists. In order to accurately interpret the artworks and the complex Catholic doctrine presented, the evolution of the Cult of the Virgin was also examined. This served to uncover the origins of Mary's influential following and the manifold events associated with her, which are not included in scripture yet play a prominent role in the Catholic faith of the Counter-Reformation as they faced criticism from Protestant leaders.