Origin : France, Burgundy
Period : 12th century
Height : 65.5 cm
Length : 30.5 cm
Depth : 20 cm
Oak wood, traces of polychromy
This Enthroned Virgin is a perfect example of Medieval devotion and particularly Romanesque devotion. Her hieratic position and her straight bust testify the use of symbolic codes and conventions instead of a realistic will.
This Virgin shows similarities with the Enthroned Virgin from Nolay kept at the Musée des Beaux-Arts of Beaune and with another one which entered the same collection in 2012 and coming from Arnay-le-Duc also in Burgundy.
She is called Sedes Sapientiae, Seat of Holy Wisdom.
During the 12th century the devotion towards Mary is very strong. Being the main link between men and God the Virgin is seated on a bench-like throne, presented frontally and acting herself as a throne for Christ.
This Virgin is veiled and crowned. Her face shows large bulgy eyes, long straight nose and a mouth characterized by thin lips. She used to hold the Christ Child centered on her knees between her hands.
This sculpture has kept some traces of polychromy. Mary wears an open cloak on her shoulders and a belted dress with a round neckline.
Her austere face is marked by a great serenity. This important Enthroned Virgin is turning to the devotees to gives them all her strength. The solemnity of the Virgin seems to express those words from John of Damascus
« Her hands will cary the Eternal and her knees will be a throne… »
Abbé Laurentin et René Oursel, Vierges romanes, les vierges assises, Zodiaque, 1988.
Jacqueline Liévaux-Boccador, Edouard Bresset, Statuaire médiévale de collection, tome I, Les clefs du temps, 1972.
Ilene H. Forsyth, The Throne of Wisdom : Wood sculptures of the Madonna in Romanesque France, Princeton University Press, 1972.
Galienne Francastel, Le droit au trône, un problème de prééminence dans l’art chrétien d’Occident du IVe au XIIe s, Paris, Klincksieck, 1973.
ENTHRONED VIRGIN, A SYMBOLIC DEPICTION
Depictions of the Virgin and Child find their origins in a very long tradition going back to the pagan times (e. g. Gallo-Roman Mother goddesses). They are a synthesis of past eras and adress a desire for worhip and a need of protection from believers.
Since the Council of Nicaea in 352 have been raised questions about the true nature of Christ. In 431 the Council of Ephesus gives an answer. It proclames that Christ was born with a double nature, both humane and divine. Those two natures are united within Christ through the mystery of the Incarnation. Since then the Virgin Mary is the Theotokos i. e. Mother of God. A true Marial vigor arises and its cult will keep growing.
It is in the East that the first christians produced the oldest depictions of the Enthroned Virgin. They were then made with mosaics or ivory. In the West they appear on illuminated manuscripts before being carved in stone for the churches gates.
From the 9th century the Virgin and Child depicted on the round, carved in wood and sometimes enriched with precious metals ornaments are given to be worshipped by devotees. One of the oldest is from the cathedral of Clermont. Texts teach us it was made in 946, unfortunately it did not survived. Nevertheless it might have been a model for the following Enthroned Virgins.
The humane and maternal figure of Mary creates a bond of intimacy with the worshipper and balance the fear God inspired them. However as the mother of God Mary stays unreachable. This specific dichotomy is particularly shown in the 12th century works of art. As a mother Mary carry her son on her knees, as the mother of God she becomes the seat of the Holy Wisdom’s Incarnation ; Sedes Sapientiae. This way the mystery of the Incarnation is explained to the devotees, depicting both the nature divine and humane of the Christ Child.
About the Enthroned Virgins made during the 12th century the child is seated in the center, Mary’s main role is to present Christ. She is then subordinated to her son. As a mother she illustrates the affiliation of Christ with the House of David, meaning the humane lineage of the Saviour.
This symbolic depiction has a very strong meaning. It illustrates the mystery of the sacred art. For the Romanesque mind the Sedes Sapientiae was the tangible expression of divine hierarchy.
2 500 €
Price : on request