The National Gallery has an extraordinarily rich collection of images of the Virgin Mary, especially for a nation that formally broke the ties with the Church in Rome. It is sometimes argued that the presence of an omnipotent matriarch has always been important to this island's culture. This is an opportunity not only to enjoy these images for their great beauty but also to consider their varied intention and impact. Each image is given a brief period of silence to allow for private contemplation and the chance for the portrayals to speak for themselves. As the styles and techniques involved develop, much is learnt about changing times and attitudes over the centuries.