The painting “Madonna and Child with St. Martina and St. Agnes” was created by El Greco in 1597-99 as a set of paintings for the chapel of San José in Toledo, Spain. The painting depicts the Virgin Mary holding her son Jesus, while surrounded by angels and saints including Saints Martina and Agnes.
El Greco’s emotional style expresses the passion of Counter-Reformation Spain, which is evident in this large-scale painting with complex interdependent figures. The National Gallery of Art has the most important collection of his work outside of Spain. This oil on canvas painting portrays infant Jesus and his mother reclining on clouds in the heavens above Saints Martina and Agnes who are shown carrying a sheep.
St. Agnes is often associated with purity since she was known to have maintained her virginity throughout her life, which could be why she is seen carrying a sheep- a symbol representing innocence or purity. Meanwhile, St. Martina was also known for her devoutness during martyrdom despite being tortured by Emperor Alexander Severus himself.
Overall, El Greco’s masterpiece displays religious subject matter through vivid colors that capture human emotions as well as divine lighting that illuminates each character within their respective roles creating an atmospheric background that evokes a sense of peace and tranquility—ideal for meditation/prayer purposes when viewed at intervals during prolonged periods within place-of-worship settings such as chapels or churches..