Attributed to Master Heinrich of Constance
German; Made in Constance
Walnut, paint, gilding, rock–crystal cabochons; 23 1/4 x 12 in. (59.1 x 30.5 cm)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.190.724)
Soon after the Virgin Mary learned of her miraculous conception of Jesus, she visited her kinswoman Elizabeth, who was also expecting a child, John the Baptist. This representation of their joyous meeting comes from the Dominican convent of Katharinenthal, in the Lake Constance region of present-day Switzerland. Carved of walnut, with the original paint and gilding almost completely preserved, the figures of Mary and Elizabeth are each inset with crystal-covered cavities through which images of their infants may originally have been seen. The representation of the Visitation, incorporating images of the unborn Christ and John the Baptist, is found with some frequency in late medieval works from German-speaking lands.