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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F , Box Black Madonna Topic Box

Print

1880 - 1900 (Printed and published)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

In art historical terms, a black Madonna is a painting or sculpture depicting the Virgin 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 elaborate holy card/miniature paper shrine was produced in the late-19th century for sale to pilgrims as a souvenir of the shrine.

Object details

Category
Object type
Materials and techniques
Chromolithography on paper with embossing, die-cutting and varnishing.
Brief description
A. Götz, holy card depicting the Black Madonna of Altötting, Germany, about 1890.
Physical description
Arch-shaped holy card/paper shrine with embossed and pierced dark brown glossy coated paper border and folding doors, that open and close over a central colour printed image depicting a gigantic Black Madonna of Altötting towering over a procession of tiny pilgrims winding its way from the Chapel of Grace in the background and around the feet of the figure. Lettered with A. GOTZ blind-embossed within a scroll in the border below the image. A thin piece of arch-shaped paper is pasted over the back of the card.
Dimensions
  • Whole height: 10.1cm
  • Width: 7.1cm
open
Content description
The Black Madonna of Altötting, monumentally sized, towering over a procession of tiny pilgrims winding its way from the Chapel of Grace in the background and around the feet of the Virgin.
Production typeMass produced
Marks and inscriptions
A. GOTZ (Blind embossed within a ribbon scroll within the border, below the image)
Credit line
Given by Tim Travis in memory of Leslie Travis
Subjects depicted
Place depicted
Summary
In art historical terms, a black Madonna is a painting or sculpture depicting the Virgin 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 elaborate holy card/miniature paper shrine was produced in the late-19th century for sale to pilgrims as a souvenir of the shrine.
Collection
Accession number
E.515-2018

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Record createdJune 20, 2018
Record URL
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