DescriptionNikolaus Gerhaert von Leiden (North Netherlandish, active in Strasbourg, 1460–73) was the finest and most influential sculptor in the third quarter of the fifteenth century, a pivotal period in the development of late Gothic sculpture in northern Europe. This Standing Virgin and Child (ca. 1470) in the Museum’s collection is especially notable for its sense of drama, monumentality, and elegance. The rhythm and balance of the drapery folds are counterpoised by the linear details and textural contrasts; naturalistic elements include the delicate manner in which the Virgin holds the child’s chubby flesh. The statuette, which continues a long tradition of devotional works in boxwood, may have been commissioned by a member of the Viennese court. Our sculpture in hand-patinated bonded bronze is based on this splendid fifteenth-century original.
Bonded bronze. Hand patinated. 15 3/4"H x 3 1/2"W x 6"D.
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- Bonded bronze
- Hand patinated
- 15 3/4"H x 3 1/2"W x 6"D
- Gift wrap not available
Art HistoryThe Virgin, dressed in a long gown with a simple rounded collar, is enveloped by an even longer mantle that hangs in multiple looping and breaking folds. These pile up in irregular accumulations about her feet. The mantle is secured below the neck by a twisted double rope. The Virgin also wears a long veil that is pulled tightly over the high dome of her head and is secured by a thin crown. The crenate veil, divided at the back, is suspended in a wide curve over the Virgin's shoulders. The surfaces of the veil are enriched by fine, parallel hatchings. Waves of hair frame the polished, rounded planes of the Virgin's face; these waves continue in long thick strands at the back of the figure. A portion of one strand observed from the front below the Virgin's right elbow announces the rich cascade at the back of the figure. The nude Christ Child sits cross-legged in the palm of the Virgin's left hand while being steadied by her right. The Child faces outward in the same direction as the Virgin. The Virgin's fingers lightly press into the Child's flesh which has the same smooth finish as the Virgin's face and hands. The Child's hair, in contrast to the Virgin's, is carved in a series of tight ringlets. The base is constructed in three parts. The uppermost, a thin plinth, is carved in one piece with the figure. The Virgin's mantle tumbles over the fronts and sides of the edge of this plinth. The second and largest part of the base, executed separately and in a different wood from the figure, is decorated at the front and sides with multiple horizontal moldings. The back of this portion is crudely inscribed with an inlaid inscription providing the date "1517," perhaps in reference to Dürer's graphics of the Virgin and Child of 1508, 1510-11, 1514, and 1518. This section of the base, which was much taller when the sculpture was in the Rothschild collection in Vienna, must date from the nineteenth century, as suggested in recent publications. The lowest and third portion of the base horizontally extends the molded profile of the support still further.