Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem, The Netherlands

Saint Luke painting the virgin was a popular subject among Renaissance artists, including Dutch painter Maerten van Heemskerck (1498–1574). How did Christian tradition come to associate Luke, among all the evangelists, with painting? Many early church scholars commented on Luke’s clear prose, which perhaps linked him in their minds with vivid visual expression. Because Luke lived in Mary’s time and wrote extensively about her, it may have been thought that he had seen her and could generate a vera ikon, or true image, of the Madonna.