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Medieval Art at the Smart: Mary as Vessel-Like Throne for the Christ-Child, Personification of Wisdom
22.04.2021 Nancy Thebaut and Martin Schwarz
Meister Eckhart Meister Eckhart

Medieval Virgin-and-Child statues like the one owned by the Smart Museum of Art were once the most ubiquitous type of medieval devotional image. Those that have survived the vicissitudes of time are of unique interest.
Just over two feet tall and made primarily of wood, this polychromed sculpture presents the Virgin Mary on an unadorned throne with her son, who rests on her left knee. The Christ child is draped in green and likely raises three fingers on his right hand (his thumb is the third—it is missing) to make a Trinitarian sign of blessing, while with his left hand he grasps a book, likely the Bible.

His rosy-cheeked face remains otherwise expressionless as he stares outward. The Virgin Mary looks out with a rather blank gaze, too; she wears a belted orange dress, blue cape, and a removable metal crown.
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