- Associated Press - Thursday, December 25, 2014

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is putting a timely and powerful painting on display.

The museum in Richmond recently acquired “The Visitation” by 17th-century Baroque master Mattia Preti, which depicts the first episode in the life of Christ recorded by Luke.

According to the museum, the painting depicts the meeting of the Virgin Mary with her older cousin Elizabeth following the annunciation by the angel Gabriel. Elizabeth, who was soon to give birth to John the Baptist, recognizes that Mary has been chosen as the mother of the son of God and greets her with a blessing.

The oil painting by the Italian artist went on display Wednesday in the European Baroque Gallery and will remain on long-term display as a part of the museum’s permanent collections.

“This old master painting will become a visitor favorite, as well as a touchstone for the artist,” Director Alex Nyerges said in a news release. “We can think of no better Christmas gift to the commonwealth than exquisite art for all to enjoy.”

The painting is one of several acquisitions announced this week, including one by 19th-century American portraitist Gilbert Stuart. That oil painting on wood depicts Rebecca White Pickering, wife of Massachusetts politician Timothy Pickering, who served as secretary of state under Presidents George Washington and John Adams.

The portrait’s “rich tones rendered with a fluid touch” display Stuart’s extraordinary talents, Susan Jensen Rawles, interim department head of American art said.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts houses more than 33,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years of world history. It is open 365 days a year.

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Online:

http://www.vmfa.museum

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