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  • Place of origin:

    Germany (Printed and published)

  • Date:

    1860-1890 (Printed and published)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Albumen print and lithography on paper with embossing, gilding, die-cutting, and applique.

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Tim Travis in memory of Leslie Travis

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, box Black Madonna Topic Box

In art historical terms, a black Madonna is a painting or sculpture depicting the Virgin Mary with dark or black skin, created in Europe in the late medieval period, or sometimes an older image whose documented popular cult dates from that time. Some are made of dark or black materials such as ebony, others are said to have become blackened from the soot of candles, although this explanation and the significance of the Madonna’s skin colour is contested. There are several hundred black Madonnas in Europe. The topic of black Madonnas has attracted a considerable literature in recent decades approaching the subject from the perspective of various academic disciplines including anthropology, psychology, art history, feminism, and Black history.

The shrine of Our Lady of Altötting in Bavaria dates from about 660 and is the oldest Marian shrine in Germany. The cult image housed in the distinctive octagonal Gnadenkapelle (Chapel of Grace) is a polychromed lindenwood sculpture dating from about 1330 and probably replaced an earlier image. The shrine’s popularity as a pilgrimage destination received a considerable boost in 1489 from the miraculous recovery of a young boy who had drowned, after his mother laid his body before the image and prayed to the Virgin for a miracle. A striking feature of the shrine is its collection of silver urns containing the bequeathed hearts of the Virgin’s devotees from among the German nobility. This holy card published in the late-19th century for sale to pilgrims as a souvenir of the shrine.

Physical description

Colour printed holy card with embossing, gilding and scalloped and frilled edges. Front: 'tipped on' oval photograph reproducing a drawing or print of Our Lady of Altötting, within an embossed and gilded frame, surrounded by an embossed border decorated with roses, forget-me-nots and other flowers against a pale blue background. Back: German prayer to the Virgin Mary printed in black Fraktur script on an oval piece of paper pasted onto the back of the card.

Place of Origin

Germany (Printed and published)


1860-1890 (Printed and published)

Materials and Techniques

Albumen print and lithography on paper with embossing, gilding, die-cutting, and applique.

Marks and inscriptions

D 6758
Handwritten in pencil, on the back


Height: 8.5 cm Maximum, :, Width: 5.8 cm Maximum

Descriptive line

Holy card souvenir of Our Lady of Altötting, Germany, late-19th century.


Paper; Ink; Gold; Albumen


Albumen print; Lithography; Embossing; Gilding; Die-cutting; Applique

Subjects depicted

Flowers; Black Madonnas



Production Type

Mass produced


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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