c. early 1400s; ivory: c. 1400; frame: c. 1400–1410
Ivory, carved, polished; silver, chased, cast, engraved
Overall: 27.2 x 15.3 x 9.7 cm (10 11/16 x 6 x 3 13/16 in.)
While the use of materials such as ivory was popular for centuries, today the sale of ivory is banned worldwide to protect wild elephants.
Seated on an architectural throne, the Virgin Mary holds a playful Christ child as he lifts her garment to nurse. Saints Dorothy and Catherine attend the holy family, while five angels sing and play musical instruments. Devotion to the cult of the Virgin Mary developed exponentially after the 1300s. By emphasizing Mary’s humanity, the artists present her as an accessible and powerful intercessor for the faithful. Carved out of a single piece of ivory that was likely imported from Africa to Paris, the sculpture was almost instantly integrated into a relic container in a regional German workshop.
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