Scandinavian, perhaps from Gotland
Poplar with remains of polychromy; H: 34 in. (86.4 cm)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.190.716)
Carved from a narrow block of poplar, this figure was originally set into a large tabernacle, a receptacle for the consecrated Eucharistic bread that was often placed on the altar. Dowel holes indicate that Mary originally held the Christ Child frontally, in a type known as Throne of Wisdom (Sedes Sapientiae), with the child as the embodiment of divine wisdom and the crowned Virgin as Queen of Heaven. The figure's elongated form and strong linear quality can be related to more complete works from Gotland Island (in Sweden), where sculpture was strongly influenced by German art.