Pendant with the Virgin and Child


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 540

The stiff, hieratic images of the Virgin and Child can be compared to those of several jewels known to have come from the treasury of the Cathedral of the Virgin of the Pillar in Saragossa, Spain.[1] The Saragossa Virgins stand on distinctive pillar supports, however; this Virgin also differs from them in that she wears a red robe rather than a blue one and has a large red ruby embedded in the back of her star-covered mantle. These distinctive features originally may have served to identify her with another Spanish shrine.

It is probable, however, that this jewel was made for quite a different purpose, for the crescent moon on which this Virgin stands identifies her as the Madonna od the Immaculate Conception. Priscilla E. Muller has called attention to the proliferation in sixteenth-century Spain of confraternities formed to promoted acceptance of the Immaculate Virgin as dogma.[2] These confraternities reach their greatest influence in the second decade of the seventeenth-century, when gold images of the Virgin were worn as emblems by confraternity members.

[Clare Vincent, The Jack and Belle Linsky Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1984, p. 184, no. 102]

[1] Princely Magnificence: Court Jewels of the Renaissance, 1500–1630 (exhib. cat.), London, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1980, p. 80, figs. 104, 107, pp. 82–83, nos. 104, 107.

[2] P. E. Muller, Jewels in Spain, 1500–1800, New York, 1972, pp. 120–33.

Pendant with the Virgin and Child, Enameled gold set with diamonds and a ruby, Spanish

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