The Virgin and Child - inv. 3508

Tuscan sculptor, late 13th century

The Virgin and Child
1280 ca.
painted wood  
147 x 43 x 46 cm
1973 donation Giovanni e Maly Falck
Inv. 3508

14th Century Room

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 around 1280.