The stark and rhythmic lines of this sculpture are almost modern in their effect. In fact, this seemingly straightforward image of the infant Jesus seated rigidly on the Virgin’s lap represents a complex, medieval theological notion known as a Sedes Sapientiae (Throne of Wisdom), in which Mary serves as a throne for Christ, who in turn embodies divine wisdom. Placed on an altar, this imposing group was an object of veneration that could also be carried in procession or incorporated into a theatrical performance within a church. A circular cavity in the Virgin’s left shoulder suggests that the sculpture contained a relic. Recent conservation treatment has revealed remains of the original painted and applied metal decoration. A Virgin and Child (16.32.194) probably by the same artist is on view in the Main Building of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.