Virgin and Child with St. Anne
Pictures of the Virgin and Christ Child with St. Anne, the Virgin’s mother, were popular in the 15th and 16th centuries. The teaching of the Church stressed St. Anne’s perfect life, and thus the purity of Christ’s parentage. The cult of St Anne helped reinforce a belief in Mary's special holiness. It became widespread north of the Alps in the 15th century. By 1500 it had reached a peak of popularity, encouraged by Pope Sixtus IV's pronouncements. In particular the Pope favoured the doctrine of Mary's Immaculate Conception.