Mater Dolorosa (Mourning Virgin)

Period: Qing dynasty (1644–1911)

Date: 18th century

Culture: China

Medium: Wood with pigments, gilding, ivory and silver

Dimensions: H. 14 1/2 in. (36.8 cm); W. 7 1/2 in. (19.1 cm); D. 6 in. (15.2 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Purchase, Friends of Asian Art and Mrs. Charles W. Engelhard Gifts, in honor of Brooke Astor's one-hundredth birthday, 2002

Accession Number: 2002.133a, b


The Chinese characters on the bottom of this sculpture indicate the colors used for the various patterns on the robes and help catalogue it as a work of art produced by an artist trained in China, as does the style of the rocks upon which the Madonna sits. The mournful expression of the face of the Virgin, the clasped hands, and the seated position are typical of representations of the mourning Madonna (mater dolorosa), an image of the Virgin Mary that represents her sorrows during the sufferings of her Son, a theme that was popular in music and ritual during the eighteenth century. The sculpture was most likely produced either in Fujian Province or by an artist trained in that area but working in the Philippines.