The Virgin and Child - inv. 3508
The Virgin is seated and holding Jesus, here more a boy than an infant. He wears a long blue robe similar to his mother’s. The head of Christ, probably decayed, was refashioned in a later period: it is small in proportion to the body and the features are rather different from Mary’s. Probably both figures were originally holding something, as suggested by their poses. One of the figures may have held a book, which identified Mary as "sedes sapientiae", the throne of wisdom. This is an iconography with complex theological implications. It appears in icons, miniatures, statues and paintings and comes from Byzantine art, like the frontal pose. In the Middle Ages wooden sculptures were widespread as cult images. Their three-dimensionality and rich polychrome decoration helped to bring the sacred personages closer to worshippers. Stylistic comparisons suggest this work is Florentine and dates from circa 1280. The softness of the drapery is noteworthy, especially when compared to the stiff posture of the Virgin and Child.