The earliest depictions of the virgin mother appeared upon sarcophagi, but she is often represented within groups and never given any individual importance (54). During the next 300 years the worship of the virgin mother expanded and representations of her came in various forms and materials. At the arrival of the 10th and 11th century, although art was not given much importance, the Cult of the Virgin saw a steady increase in its followers (55) during this era the virgin was often represented in the forms of “Madonna and the child”, the “Annunciation”, the “Nativity” and the “Worship of the Magi” (55).
Naturally a large number of artworks depicting biblical figures and scenes can be found in churches and other venues for worship, just like in the St. James Cathedral in Seattle, Washington, USA. Among the major artworks housed in the cathedral is a collection of stained glass by Charles Connik and an altar piece made by a Florentine artist, Neri di Bicci, which depicts the Madonna and Child surrounded by six saints.
It can be noted that the image of the Madonna is prominent throughout the cathedral in various forms. From paintings, to statues, to carvings, and even stained glass the Madonna is portrayed in different roles and scenarios.
Mentioned earlier is the artwork done by Florentine artist Neri di Bicci, Madonna and Child surrounded by six saints, dated to have been done in 1456. The artwork depicts the virgin mother sitting on a (heavenly) throne while holding the infant Jesus on her lap ("Madonna and Child with Saints"). Both the central figures are surrounded by six saints who are seemingly engaged in a conversation either with each other and/or with the Madonna and Child.
Immediately noticeable is the regal aura that comes off from the virgin mother sitting on her queenly throne. In typical theological concept, the enthroned Madonna stands for the virgin mother as the Queen of Heaven (Hurll 37). A closer look at the altarpiece