The Virgin Mary

Artist: Manner of Germain Pilon (French, Paris ca. 1525–1590 Paris)

Date: ca. 1585–90

Culture: French

Medium: Gilt bronze

Dimensions: Height: 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm)

Classification: Sculpture-Bronze

Credit Line: Gift of Lois and Anthony Blumka, in honor of Olga Raggio, 1998

Accession Number: 1998.437


The dolorous three-figure arrangement of the Virgin Mary and Saint John flanking a crucified Christ was one of the most familiar settings in Western religious art, repeated with endless variations on every scale. This statuette originally formed part of a Crucifixion group that was fervently venerated as an object of private devotion, as the well-rubbed gilding attests.

If one stops short of assigning the model to the great German Pilon himself, it is only because small bronzes by him are not known. The statuette certainly faithfully encapsulates his mellifluous style, the folds of the Virgin's mantle descending in generous curves much as in Pilon monuments such as the seated Virgin of Sorrows, a marble of about 1585 in the Church of Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis, Paris, or the kneeling Cardinal de Birague, a bronze tomb figure of 1584–85 now in the Musée du Louvre.