The Virgin of Guadalupe

Image credit: Wellcome Collection

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This is a painting of the statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Extremadura, western Spain. The statue, in the Real Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, is 59 cm high and is said to date from the twelfth century. Both the Virgin and the Christ Child are black: the statue is one of a number of 'black Madonnas' found in western Europe, especially in France and in Spain (the best-known is the Virgin of Monserrat). They have been explained by reference to a verse of the Biblical book 'Song of Songs', which says 'I am black but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem'. This is supposed to be spoken by a woman who can be seen to represent both the Church and the Virgin Mary. The fame of the effigy attracted many pilgrims in the hope of grace and good health.

Wellcome Collection



The Virgin of Guadalupe




oil on canvas


H 106 x W 84.5 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

purchased by Henry S. Wellcome, c.1900–1936

Work type


Inscription description

Tocada asu original anno D. 1745


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Wellcome Collection

183 Euston Road, London, Greater London NW1 2BE England

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