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Virgin and Child in Majesty

Date:
1150–1200
Geography:
Made in Auvergne, France
Culture:
French
Medium:
Walnut with paint, tin relief on a lead white ground, and linen
Dimensions:
Overall: 31 5/16 x 12 1/2 x 11 1/2 in. (79.5 x 31.7 x 29.2 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture-Wood
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1916
Accession Number:
16.32.194a, b
  • Description

    This type of sculpture, with the Christ Child seated in the Virgin’s lap in a frontal pose, is known as a Throne of Wisdom (Sedes Sapientiae). This seemingly straightforward image conveys complex theological ideas. Christ, as the Son of God, is Wisdom incarnate. Mary, who carried Christ in her womb and who holds him on her lap, serves as his seat, or throne. Christ would have grasped a Bible, a further representation of the divine wisdom that he himself embodies.
    Beginning about 1100, Mary was increasingly revered as a nurturing, merciful intercessor. Such statues of her were used as devotional objects and may have been carried in church processions. This sculpture probably functioned as a container for holy relics, as it has a cavity located behind the Virgin’s shoulder.

  • Provenance

    From church in Prov. of Auvergne.; Émile Molinier, Paris; Georges Hoentschel (French, Paris 1855–1915 Paris); J. Pierpont Morgan, London and New York (until 1917)

  • See also
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
463795

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