In contrast to the severe and elegant portrait of the Empress Dowager Cixi, there is this lush Madonna and Child by Carlo Crivelli. The beautiful bower which surrounds her, her serene attitude, and her glorious garment all convey the ideas of fecundity, nurturing, and majesty that one typically associates with the Empress card.
Her authority is an expression of the earth's own life giving and life sustaining powers, and is tied into the seasons, in particular its times of birth and growth. Thus, the Empress manifests in the affairs of people through the acts as cultivating, harvesting, and preparing food, as well as in pregnancy, childbirth, and raising of children. She represents nature in full bloom, and her power is the natural power of the earth, in contrast to the man-made power of her masculine counterpart, the Emperor.