Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object
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Virgin and Child in Majesty

Date:
ca. 1175–1200
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
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 304
In medieval sculpture, individual body parts were often accentuated to convey meaning. Here, Mary’s oversized hands direct our attention to Jesus, enthroned upon his mother’s lap. This type of sculpture, much favored in the twelfth century, is known as a Throne of Wisdom (Sedes Sapientiae).

Appearing like a miniature adult, Jesus, as the Son of God, is Wisdom incarnate. He would have grasped a Bible, a further reference to the concept of divine wisdom that he embodies. Mary is both sculpture and vessel—her body has a cavitiy behind her shoulder, which suggests the work was a container for holy relics. Such devotional statues may have been carried in church processions.
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)
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