Long hidden in private collections, this ivory sculpture is one of the great masterpieces on view at The Cloisters. It belongs to a larger series of European thirteenth- and fourteenth-century, generally small-scale, precious ivory statuettes of the Virgin and Child in seated and standing postures. Most of the series is French, and certainly from the Île-de-France if not from the preeminent center, Paris. All of these statuettes—the rare English examples and the numerous French works—are devotional in nature and date from the height of popularity of the cult of the Virgin.
The Cloisters' Virgin turns slightly to her left to face the blessing Christ Child, who at one time climbed up over her left knee. Only a portion of the toes of the infant Christ's right foot and of his lowered left leg and foot remains. The Virgin's back is carved in low-relief folds, suggesting that this sculpture was not meant to be seen in the round.
[ Georges J. Demotte 1877–1923, Paris and New York (1928) ] ; Mr. and Mrs. John Hunt, Drumleck Baily, Co. Dublin (before 1936–1979) ; [ Howard Ricketts, London (in 1979 as agent for the Hunts) ]
Seventh Loan Exhibition: French Gothic Art of the Thirteenth to Fifteenth Century. Detroit: The Detroit Institute of Arts, 1928. no. 69, ill.
Burlington Fine Arts Club. Catalogue of an exhibition of Gothic art in Europe (ca.1200-c.1500). London: Burlington Fine Arts Club, 1936. no. 24, p. 33.
Porter, Dean A. "Ivory Carving in Later Medieval England, 1200-1400." PhD diss., State University of New York, Binghamton, 1974. no. 33, pp. 96, 98, 101-02.
Kleinbauer, Walter Eugene. "Recent Major Acquisitions of Medieval Art by American Museums." Gesta 19, no. 1 (1980). p. 68, fig. 5.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Notable Acquisitions, 1979-1980 (Metropolitan Museum of Art) (1980). pp. 22-23.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "One Hundred Tenth Annual Report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year July 1, 1979, through June 30, 1980." Annual Report of the Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 110 (1980). p. 41.
Howard, Kathleen, ed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1983. no. 20, p. 368.
Marks, Richard. Burrell, a Portrait of a Collector: Sir William Burrell, 1861-1958. Glasgow: Richard Drew Publishing, 1983. pp. 133-34.
Stratford, Neil. "Glastonbury and Two Gothic Ivories in the United States." In Studies in Medieval Sculpture. Occasional Paper, n.s., Vol. 3. London: Society of Antiquaries of London, 1983. pp. 208-14, pl. LXXXVI b.
Marks, Richard. The Burrell Collection. London & Glasgow: Collins Publishing, 1984. p. 91, fig. 7.
Binski, Paul, and Jonathan J. G. Alexander, ed. Age of Chivalry: Art in Plantagenet England, 1200-1400. London: Royal Academy of Arts, 1987. no. 518, p. 424.
Husband, Timothy B., and Charles T. Little. Europe in the Middle Ages. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. no. 101, p. 108.
Wixom, William D. "A Late Thirteenth-Century Ivory Virgin." Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 50, no. 3 (1987). pp. 337-58, fig. 1a-e.
Wixom, William D. "Medieval Sculpture at The Cloisters." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 46, no. 3 (Winter 1988-1989). p. 61.
Young, Bonnie. A Walk Through The Cloisters. 5th ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1988. p.106.
Randall Jr., Richard H. The Golden Age of Ivory: Gothic Carvings in North American Collections. New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1993. p. 51.
Howard, Kathleen, ed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. 2nd ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994. no. 20, p. 402.
Barnet, Peter, ed. Images In Ivory: Precious Objects of the Gothic Age. Detroit: Detroit Institute of Arts, 1997. no. 35, pp. 182–83.
Wixom, William D., ed. Mirror of the Medieval World. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999. no. 142, pp. 119–21.
Barnet, Peter, and Nancy Y. Wu. The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005. no. 48, pp. 83, 195.
Evans, Helen C., ed. The Philippe de Montebello Years: Curators Celebrate Three Decades of Acquisitions – Online Catalogue. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2008.
Barnet, Peter. "Medieval Europe." In Philippe de Montebello and The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1977–2008, edited by James R. Houghton. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009. p. 23.
Barnet, Peter, and Nancy Y. Wu. The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture. 75th Anniversary ed. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. p. 81.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012. p. 209.
Tomasi, Michele. "Note su due avori goticidel Museo Civico d’Arte Antica." Palazzo Madama: Studi e Notizie, 2012–2013 3, no. 2 (2013). pp. 23-24, fig. 9.
Williamson, Paul, and Glyn Davies. Medieval Ivory Carvings, 1200–1550. Vol. 1. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 2014. pp. 57–58.