A basswood sculpture depecting the Virgin with a pear

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Origin
Austria, Salzburg
Period
C. 1430
Material
Gilding, Original polychromy
Dimensions
68 x 25 x 23 cm
Literature

A. Legner, Spätgotik in Salzburg: Skulptur und Kunstgewerbe 1400-1530, exh. cat. Neues Haus, Salzburg, 1976, pp. 59, 61; S. Guillot de Suduiraut (ed.), Sculptures allemandes de la fin du Moyen Age dans les collections publiques françaises 1400-1530, exh. cat. Musée du Louvre, Paris, 1991

Basswood with original gilt and polychromy

 

Originally from courtly Bohemia, the Schöner Stil (Beautiful Style), which would come to dominate religious sculpture well into the mid-15th century, found a second great artistic centre in Salzburg. Absorbing the elegant language of the style, but imbuing it with a heavy opulence and broad, doll-like features, Salzburg and its surrounding area produced Schöne Madonnen that rivalled the serene appeal of their Bohemian prototypes.

 

With her short stature, the S-curve of her stance that is most clearly seen in a profile view, and the arrangement of her drapery, with a large section falling from the left arm in gentle cascades, she finds a direct comparison in a Saint Agnes formerly in the Gustav Rau collection. Further parallels may be drawn with various groups representing the Virgin and Child from Salzburg; note, for example, the similarly rounded, high forehead of the Madonna from Grossarl (Legner, op. cit., no. 69), which like the St Agnes is dated to around 1420.

 

The present Virgin’s face is, however, arguably more individualised than that of many similar examples, including the Agnes, indicating perhaps a slightly later dating. Carved fully in the round, the present figure exhibits a beautiful back view, showing off her intricately carved headdress.

 

 

 

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