Andrea Pozzi (Italian, 1778-1833), “The Presentation of the Virgin at the Temple”, oil on canvas, c. 1831/1832, unsigned, 119 in., x 71 in., in the original giltwood frame. Provenance: Ursuline Convent, New Orleans. Note: This painting depicts one of the most revered occurrences in the Christian faith, the moment at which the Virgin Mary as a child of three receives the blessing from the High Priest / Prophet Zachariah, and becomes herself the Living Temple of God. Brought by her parents, Joachim and Anne, to the temple in Jerusalem to fulfill their vow that any child they had would be a gift to the Lord, Mary then resided in the Temple until she was 12 and betrothed to Joseph. This powerful image has been repeatedly depicted by great Italian artists from the Renaissance forward including Ghirlandiao, Tintoretto and Tiziano. Following in their tradition, Pozzi was commissioned by the Bishop of the American Mission, Bishop Joseph Rosati, (1789-1843), who served as Apostolic Administrator of New Orleans from 1826-1829, to complete this painting for the chapel of the Ursuline Sisters. Among his other religious commissions are the chapel of Santa Maria Rotondo, Rome. Pozzi, President of the esteemed Roman Academy of Saint-Luke (founded in 1593), continued in the academic manner, also completing monumental compositions of mythological subject matter including the “Rape of Proserpine”. Interestingly, academies were often dedicated to the evangelist Luke, who is thought to have painted the Virgin during her life. Reference: Bénézit, Dictionnaire des Peintres, et al; The Archdiocese of New Orleans; Kaufman, “The Academic Tradition Revisited”, NYC Tribune, 7/26/90.