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The Virgin and Child thumbnail 2
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Sculpture, Room 111, The Gilbert Bayes Gallery

The Virgin and Child

Statuette
ca. 1360 - ca. 1380 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This ivory statuette representing the Virgin and Child is made in France (Paris) or England (probably Westminster), in about 1360-1380. The group has an inherent quality and was apparently set in a silver or gilt-copper tabernacle shrine which suggests that it was an especially revered image, perhaps originally kept in a private oratory or chapel.
Three dimensional images of the Virgin and Child were ubiquitous from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries, produced in a wide range of materials and sizes and testifying the overwhelming devotion to th Virgin. Together with the Crucifixion, statues and statuettes of the Virgin and Child were the pricipal objects of devotion in the Christian Church, and vast numbers were made for ecclesisastical, monastic and private worship.
Throughout the ages artists and craftsmen have made virtuoso carvings as a display of their skill and ingenuity. Although ivory, wood and stone are relatively easy to carve, other materials such as gemstones are much more demanding. Most of these carvings were made for wealthy patrons and collectors, who delighted in the rarity of the material and quality of the carving. Parisian workshops made Gothic ivories of the Virgin and Child in large numbers for private devotional use.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Elephant ivory
Brief Description
Statuette, ivory, The Virgin and Child, French (Paris) or English (Westminster?), ca. 1360-1380
Physical Description
Ivory statuette of the Virgin and Child. The Virgin, wearing a tight cote-hardie under her long mantle, is seated on a sloping throne with traceried arcades. She rests on a long cushion, its cover laced at each end and with tassels at the corners. She holds on her right knee the seated Child, who looks up at her and clasps a fold of her veil and a bird in His left hand; the Virgin's left hand is on His knee. Now missing her crown, under her veil her hair is drawn back in the side-nets of a fashionable lady of the second half of the 14th century; also exceptionally for a figure of the Virgin in ivory, she wears a ring on the 'wedding' finger of each hand. The back of the sculpture is flat, obviously intended to be set against a separate background. There are several losses, like the right arm of the Child Christ and her index finger and thumb of the left hand. Also missing are two fingers and her thumb of the right hand.
Dimensions
  • Height: 18cm
  • At base width: 11.1cm
Object history
Purchased from the Webb Collection in 1867 (£42). Formerly in the Hertz Collection (Hertz Sale, Phillips, 25 March, 1857, No. 238).
Subjects depicted
Summary
This ivory statuette representing the Virgin and Child is made in France (Paris) or England (probably Westminster), in about 1360-1380. The group has an inherent quality and was apparently set in a silver or gilt-copper tabernacle shrine which suggests that it was an especially revered image, perhaps originally kept in a private oratory or chapel.

Three dimensional images of the Virgin and Child were ubiquitous from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries, produced in a wide range of materials and sizes and testifying the overwhelming devotion to th Virgin. Together with the Crucifixion, statues and statuettes of the Virgin and Child were the pricipal objects of devotion in the Christian Church, and vast numbers were made for ecclesisastical, monastic and private worship.

Throughout the ages artists and craftsmen have made virtuoso carvings as a display of their skill and ingenuity. Although ivory, wood and stone are relatively easy to carve, other materials such as gemstones are much more demanding. Most of these carvings were made for wealthy patrons and collectors, who delighted in the rarity of the material and quality of the carving. Parisian workshops made Gothic ivories of the Virgin and Child in large numbers for private devotional use.
Bibliographic References
  • Inventory of Art Objects acquired in the Year 1867. Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol. 1. London : Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 12
  • Porter, D. A. [PhD Dissertation] Ivory Carving in Later Medieval England 1200-1400. State University of New York, Binghampton, 1974, cat. no. 54
  • Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. London: Published under the Authority of the Board of Education, 1927-1929, Part II, p. 7
  • Brown, F. P. London Sculpture. London: Sir I. Pitman & Sons, ltd., 1934, p. 34
  • Maskell, W. A Description of the Ivories Ancient and Medieval in the South Kensington Museum, London, 1872p. 77
  • Williamson, Paul and Davies, Glyn, Medieval Ivory Carvings, 1200-1550, (in 2 parts), V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2014part 1, pp. 62-65
  • Koechlin, R., Les Ivoires gothiques français, 3 vols, Paris, 1924 (reprinted Paris 1968)I, p. 251, II, cat. no. 708 bis, III, pl. CXV
  • Grodecki, Louis. Ivoires Français. Paris, 1947pp. 102-3
  • Williamson, Paul and Davies, Glyn, Medieval Ivory Carvings, 1200-1550, (in 2 parts), V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2014, part 1, pp. 62-65, cat. no. 15
Collection
Accession Number
202-1867

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record createdDecember 23, 2003
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