Vintage Sicilian Devotional Artwork with Coral and Ex-Voto

ORIGIN: Sicily, Italy
AGE: c. 1930
DIMENSIONS: 12” w x 1” d x 16” h
MATERIALS: Metal, glass, coral, paper, fabric
CONDITION: Very good; some metal findings slightly tarnished; patina of frame is darkened in areas


Framed in an ornate oval metal frame with convex glass, this devotional artwork features pieces of red coral, a paper image of Mary, an ex-voto, three cherubs and other metal findings, all artfully and carefully arranged on blue fabric. This handcrafted artwork would have been lovingly made at home and then presented at a church altar as a votive offering.

Sicily has a long and famous tradition of fishing coral and creating jewelry and decorative objects with coral. It is prized not only for its beauty, but also its protective qualities, hence the popularity of wearing a “corno” or a polished tip of coral as a good luck charm. On our recent trip to Sicily (when we purchased this artwork at the Palermo flea market) we saw coral incorporated into beautiful jewelry as well as fascinating religious and decorative objects, even an entire nativity scene crafted in coral!