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The Visitation

Attributed to Master Heinrich of Constance (German, active in Constance, ca. 1300)

Date:
ca. 1310–20
Geography:
Made in Constance
Culture:
German
Medium:
Walnut, paint, gilding, rock-crystal cabochons inset in gilt-silver mounts
Dimensions:
Overall: 23 1/4 x 11 7/8 x 7 1/4 in. (59.1 x 30.2 x 18.4 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture-Wood
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
17.190.724
  • Description

    Soon after the Virgin Mary learned of her miraculous conception of Jesus, she visited her kinswoman Elizabeth, who was also expecting a child, John the Baptist. This representation of their joyous meeting comes from the Dominican convent of Katharinenthal, in the Lake Constance region of present-day Switzerland. Carved of walnut, with the original paint and gilding almost completely preserved, the figures of Mary and Elizabeth are each inset with crystal-covered cavities through which images of their infants may originally have been seen. The representation of the Visitation incorporating images of the unborn Christ and John the Baptist, found with some frequency in contemporary works from German-speaking lands, emphasizes the moment when, according to "The Golden Legend," Saint John, being unable "to manifest his joy with his tongue," leapt "with joy in his mother's womb." The Virgin tenderly places her hand on Elizabeth's shoulder, while her cousin raises her arm to her breast in reference to her declaration, "Who am I, that the mother of the Lord should visit me?" (Luke 1:43).

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: VNDE HOC MICHI VI VENIAT MAT(ER) - And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? (Luke I:43)

  • Provenance

    From the Abbey of a Domican nunnery, Katharinenthal, near Diessenhofen, Switzerland; J. Pierpont Morgan, London and New York

  • See also
    Who
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
464596

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