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Virgin and Child

Date:
ca. 1270–1300
Geography:
Made in Limoges, France
Culture:
French
Medium:
Copper: repoussé, engraved, gilt, cut out and nailed; champlevé enamel: lapis and light blue, red; gems; wood core (walnut)
Dimensions:
Overall: 17 1/16 x 8 x 6 in. (43.4 x 20.3 x 15.2 cm)
Classification:
Enamels-Champlevé
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
17.190.124
  • Description

    Through the course of the thirteenth century, goldsmiths in Limoges increasingly specialized in the creation of gilded copper sculpture—freestanding, as here, or in relief, with enamel used only as a decorative accent. As Queen of Heaven, the Virgin Mary wears a crown (as does the infant Jesus), richly decorated shoes, a cloak engraved with a fur pattern, and a delicate filigree brooch. The inscription across the front of the statuette reads, in translation, “Hail Mary, full of grace.” This is more than a devotional image: with a hinged compartment set in the back of the throne, this Virgin and Child served as a tabernacle to safeguard the host, the wafer
    of bread consecrated during the mass as the body of Christ. An enameled image of Saint Peter, holding keys, stands guard at the door.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Inscription: (on the inside part of the plinth; red enameled letters between blue lines) AVE MARIA GRACIA PLENA (Hail Mary, full of grace).

  • Provenance

    Count Jacques-Victor of La Béraudière (1738–1885)(sale, Paris, May 18-30, 1885, no. 395); Baron Albert Oppenheim, Cologne ; Jacques Seligmann, Paris and New York (Paris, ca. 1906); J. Pierpont Morgan, London and New York (until 1917)

  • See also
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
464005:6

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