Giovanni Strazza – The Veiled Virgin

Hi everyone and welcome back to Exploring Art, this is Alessandro and today I want to talk about a mysterious work of art that we can often see on the social medias, but that actually we don’t know a lot.

The Veiled Virgin - Giovanni Strazza
ARTIST: Giovanni Strazza
NAME The Veiled Virgin
LOCATION Presentation Convent, St. John’s
YEAR ca. 1850
TYPE Sculpture
DIMENSIONS 48 cm (19 in)
MATERIAL Carrara marble

The Origins

It’s called The Veiled Virgin and it has been carved in Rome by the Italian sculptor Giovanni Strazza. Like the name suggests, it depicts the bust of a veiled Virgin Mary. The date of the statue’s completion is unknown, but it was probably in the early 1850s since in 1856 the statue reached Newfoundland in Canada. From 1862 the bust is preserved in the Presentation Convent in St. John’s and it’s funny since that statue may have been intended to symbolize Italy during the Risorgimento context.

Risorgimento was a political and social movement that led to the unification of Italy in 1861. It has been a long period of rebellions and battles to unify the country for the first time after hundreds of years of city states. Consider that last time Italy was (kind of) united has been under the Roman Empire.

In those contexts, symbols get really important and the Veiled Virgin was probably meant in part to be a symbol of the unification since she is one of the main religious figures of the Italian Catholic tradition and she represents a young pure woman like the new Italy was pure on the intentions.

The Veiled Virgin - Giovanni Strazza
The Veiled Virgin by Giovanni Strazza

The Veiled Virgin

She is simply gorgeous. The veil gives the appearance of being translucent, but she is carved of white Carrara marble.

So, it’s not fake, it’s pure solid marble and what Strazza made is insane. He has been able to simulate the transparency of the veil revealing the humble traits of a young Mary ready to accept the role of mother of Jesus.

And what is awesome is that the veil seems so light and real that we don’t perceive it like something more, but as an element that intensify Mary’s traits.

Looking at her we feel quiet, peace, right? On her face we can read calm and humility, but, at the same time, strength. A strength that, apparently, we cannot explain for such a young woman. However, it comes from the awareness that God loves her.

At the same time, her love and faith on God make her self-confident , but without losing her humanity. And the veil is a beautiful metaphor of the faith: something so thin, light, invisible, that can be a barrier against the odds and an engine to overcome our limits.


And that’s exactly what the Italians or, better, the future Italians needed back them: faith in a better future, a goal, that, even if remote, was worth it to fight for.

It’s actually a metaphor for all of us since we shouldn’t forget our goals or give up trying to reach them. I hope you enjoyed this post. Please leave your comments and, clicking on this link, you can support this project trough Patreon. Thank you. Ciao!

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Jim

    What a gorgeous piece…it always boggles my mind that textures such as a veil can be chiselled out of marble.

  2. Islam Berkemajuan

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    1. Exploring Art with Alessandro

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  3. Christine

    I still don’t understand why such an important and magnificent piece of Italian art was sent by the exceptionally talented sculptor to Canada??

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