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Medieval European Art

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Madonna and Child

ca. 1340-1350
54 x 18 1/4 x 11 in. (137.2 x 46.4 x 27.9 cm)

Unknown, French
French

Object Type: Sculpture
Medium and Support: Limestone, polychromy, gilding
Credit Line: Gift of Emily Sibley Watson
Accession Number: 1928.466
Location: Currently on view
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This beautiful representation of the Madonna and Child is typical of a type known as the “Virgin of Tenderness,” which developed in France in the early- and mid-1300s. The elegant quality of the Virgin’s dress and her courtly stance suggest her elevated status and nobility, while the Christ Child’s pose and the manner in which his mother supports him evokes an informal, tender mood.

The Virgin’s crown, which alludes to her role as Queen of Heaven, rests on a veil that symbolizes her humility. Although only a small fragment now survives, the Virgin initially held a flower in her right hand, probably a rose or lily, while the Christ Child holds a bird. In Christian tradition, these symbols refer to the story of Christ’s birth and sacrificial death.

[Gallery label text, June 2013]

Provenance
Haussaire Collection, Rheims; Arnold Seligmann, Rey & Co., New York (dealers); purchased from them by Emily Sibley Watson (1855-1945), Rochester, NY, for the Gallery in 1928

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