Virgin and Child

Family and family relations

This Virgin and Child, signed by a turn-of-the-century Austrian painter, exemplifies the profound shift that had taken place in the religious discourse on gender. The period was shaped by the feminization of religion, which was in turn characterized by a predominance of women attending mass. At the same time, the concept of spirituality itself began to be associated with traditionally female attributes such as sentimentality and gentleness. The neo-Catholic ideal was consolidated in Spain, competing with other ideologies such as bourgeois liberalism or lay feminism. In an attempt to retain the devotion and loyalty of women, the Church began to afford them limited access to the public sphere, always within their role as mothers and moral educators. Towards the end of the century, the model of Catholic social teaching began to lean towards the more conservative branch of politics, while still maintaining the values of domesticity.