This elegant Madonna and Child in walnut, derives from the famous formula of the Virgin " Throne of Wisdom", or Sedes Sapientiae, inaugurated in the Romanesque period. Seated on a throne, in Majesty, in a frontal and hieratic attitude, Mary presents to the faithful the Child-God.
If this iconography erecting the Virgin in Theotokos (Mother of God) and designating it as the main intercessor between the faithful and his son, is most successful in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, yet it is at the very end of the Gothic period that must be attributed our work.
Indeed, the elegance of the figures and the refinement of the dress of our virgin invite us to date it from the second half of the fifteenth century. Wearing a dress fitted at the waist with a belt, hidden under a fine blue coat held on the chest by a rich clasp affecting the appearance of the finest achievements of goldsmiths of the fifteenth century (similar to those depicted in the works of Jan Van Eyck), Marie fall within the typology of the young courteous virgins of the second half of the fifteenth century. Graceful, with loose hair, dressed in royal court clothes, she evokes one of the flagship works of this group: Notre Dame de Grasse (1).
This dating is confirmed by the stylistic analysis of the work. Indeed, Marie's slightly convex forehead, her high eyebrows, her delicate nose, her slender mouth and her small raised chin, give to the face of our Virgin the great distinction of the most beautiful limousine creations of the 15th century, such as the Saint Marguerite de Cressat (2), the Saint Beard and the Virgin of the Collegiate Church Saint-Junien (3), the Saint Catherine of Saint-Aurélien of Limoges or that of the abbey of Solignac (4). These reconciliations allow us to propose to allocate our Sedes to the county of Marche, between the South of Berry and the North of Limousin, in France.
Even if some stylistic comparisons can be made, our Madonna and Child remains a piece of rare originality in the landscape of the Gothic sculpture from the fifteenth century. Indeed, if the Virgins in Majesty still meet the same success in the statuary of the fourteenth and fifteenth century, they nevertheless abandon their hieraticism and frontality in favor of the promotion of maternal feeling. The child, smiling, moves on one of Marie's knees to turn tenderly towards her. This is not the case on our Sedes, which preserves in a very exceptional way its position of Virgin enthroned, distant and majestic, solemnly presenting the Child-God, according to the Roman typology. There is hardly a similar pattern in fifteenth-century sculpture than on two little Virgin-Girls seated at the Dijon Hospital in Burgundy (5).
This charming paradox between Romanesque iconography and the fifteenth century style of our Virgin could be explained by the command in the second half of the fifteenth century of our sculpture so that it comes to fill the absence of an ancient Sedes , Romanesque (very numerous in the region), to which the faithful would have been very attached and of which they would have wished to preserve the memory by choosing this typology.
(1) Anonymous, Virgin with child : Nostre Dame de Grasse, Area of Toulouse, c. 1460-1480, Toulouse, Musée des Augustins, RA 788
(2) Anonymous, Saint Marguerite d'Antioche, 1500, Cressat, Église Sainte-Marguerite
(3) Anonymous, Saint Barbara, 15th century, Saint-Junien, Collégiale
Anonymous, Virgnin with Child dite Notre-Dame du Moutier,end of the 15th century, Saint-Junien, Collégiale
(4) Anonymous, Saint Catherine of Alexandria, 15th century, Limoges, Chapelle Saint-Aurélien
Anonymous, Saint Catherine,end of the 15th century, Solignac, Église Saint-Pierre-Saint-Paul
(5) Anonymous, Virgin seated with child, 15th century, Dijon, Hôpital Général
Anonymous, Vierge seated with child, 15th century, Dijon, Hôpital Général
-Jacques Baudoin, La sculpture flamboyante en Limousin, Guyenne et Quercy, Saint-Just-près-Brioude, Créer, 2009
-Annie Cloulas-Brousseau, La Statuaire de la fin du Moyen Âge en Limousin, Limoges, Pulim, 2000
-Ouvrage collectif, 1945-1995 : Objets mobiliers en Limousin, 50 ans de travaux, DRAC Limousin, Champs du Patrimoine, 2000
9 500 €