Standing Virgin and Child

Attributed to Niclaus Gerhaert von Leyden North Netherlandish

On view at The Met Cloisters in Gallery 13

Niclaus Gerhaert, a seminal artist of the generation preceding Albrecht Dürer’s, was presumably born in Leiden and was active in Strasbourg and Vienna, as well as in several cities between them. Three of his signed works are known and only four others, including this sculpture, have been seriously ascribed to him.

The statuette expresses a combined sense of drama, monumentality, and elegance through the extraordinarily accomplished carving of the fine-grained wood. The rhythm and balance of the complex drapery folds are set off by fine linear detail and textural contrasts. Among the naturalistic details that subtly enhance the forms is the delicate manner in which the Virgin’s fingertips press into the chubby flesh of the Child. Intended as an object of private devotion, and part of a long tradition in the use of boxwood for this purpose, it may well have been commissioned by a member of the imperial court in Vienna. The dark base, with a fictive Dürer monogram and date on the back, is of later date. Both arms of the Child and the section of drapery held in his left hand are replacements.

#40. Standing Virgin and Child

Standing Virgin and Child, Attributed to Niclaus Gerhaert von Leyden (North Netherlandish, active Strasbourg, ca. 1462–died 1473 Vienna), Boxwood, tinted lips and eyes, Austrian

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