Enthroned Virgin and Child

Date: ca. 1280–1300

Geography: Made in Navarre, Spain

Culture: Spanish

Medium: Maple, paint, and gilt

Dimensions: 53 Γ— 20 1/16 Γ— 13 3/4 in. (134.6 Γ— 51 Γ— 35 cm)

Classification: Sculpture-Wood

Credit Line: The Cloisters Collection, 1953

Accession Number: 53.67


This majestic sculpture portrays the Virgin and Child in an engaging manner, with smiling faces and a graceful bearing. The image presents them as kindly and dignified, lively and human, but it also expresses a subtle theological concept, the idea of Mary as the Throne of Holy Wisdom. She is shown as a queen in a tall crown, seated on a throne with a cushion and a footstool, while Christ sits on her lap with a book in one hand and the other raised in blessing. Both figures wear voluminous garments enriched with painted color and gilding; the preservation of this surface decoration is remarkable. The splendor of the group contrasts with the relative humility of its medieval setting in a monastic establishment. Two minute monks are painted on the footstool, each with a brown cowl, a tonsured head, and hands held in prayer.