Origin : Eastern France, Alsace
Period : 2nd half 14th century
Height : 82 cm
Length : 34 cm
Depth : 23 cm
Provenance : collection of Mme Jacqueline Boccador, collection of Laurent Horny (Cannes).
The 14th century French sculpture is particularly marked by the numerous Virgin and Child statues produced. Undeniably the use of this very topic during this era can be seen as a reaction from the artists to the great difficulties encountered by the devotees : the Hunderd Years’ war and the Black Death. The depiction of Virgin and Child loses the rigour inherited from the Romanesque 12th century. Her face, delicate and subtle is now animated, the folds in the cloth are softer, deeper and movements can be seen in the mother’s position and the Child’s. Between them two appears a true complicity.
Seating straight on a throne-bench, frontally with the head bent forward she carries her Son on her right knee. She wears a V-collar dress and a large blue cloak upon her shoulders and covering her legs. We can distinguish the white lining of the clothe.The folds are finely carved giving the impression of weight and softness. The cloak and the dress are worked in vertical and oblique pleats right to the feet.
The face of Mary, an elongated oval with a straight nose and small chin is framed by curvy strands of hair flowing on her back. She is crowned with a rose-shaped golden tiara. From her thin lips mouth she smiles slightly and gazes at the book open on her laps. This book hides away the lower body of the Child with only His two bare feet emerging.
Attentive to the lesson given by His mother the Child bent forward and points with His delicate hand a line from the Scriptures. He is dressed with a plain red tunic, the white lined collar folded out. His red cheeks childish face, as His mother’s, is cheerful and smiling.
The liveliness of the eyes, the oval shaped face and the peculiar detail of the rolled up sleeves allow us to locate the production of the sculpture in Alsace. The crown of roses and the Virgin’s free hair belong to a widespread iconography in the Upper Rhine Valley during the second half of the 14th century.
This sculpture was produced in the Alsace region during the second half of the 14th century. The scarcity of sculptures depicting the Virgin teaching from this period and the piece’s quality of execution make it a truly exceptional piece.
BOCCADOR Jacqueline, Statuaire médiévale de collection, Tome II, 1972, Editions Les Clefs du Temps, p.29
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