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Schöne Madonna


Artwork Details

Schöne Madonna
circa 1400
polychromed wood
11 1/4 in x 11 in x 4 3/4 in (28.58 cm x 27.94 cm x 12.07 cm)
Gift of an anonymous donor


In Focus 2014:
Anonymous Artist
Bohemia, Prague, late 14th–early 15th century
Schöne Madonna (Beautiful Madonna)
circa 1400
Polychromed limewood
Gift of an anonymous donor, 2013/1.227
This work, a fragment of what was certainly a full length Schöne Madonna, or “beautiful Madonna,” is an example of the courtly refinement of the late Gothic International style in sculpture.
By the fourteenth century, devotion to the Virgin Mary in Europe had become increasingly important, particularly in Bohemia (a region in the present day Czech Republic with its capital at Prague). The tradition of the Schöne Madonna depicts the standing Virgin tenderly holding the infant Christ. She is often portrayed with a crown over her mantle to signal her role as Queen of Heaven, in which she sits at the right hand of her son, interceding on behalf of humankind. Frequently painted and sometimes gilded, such images were important aids to new trends in prayer and meditation emphasizing the emotional involvement of the faithful, who were encouraged to contemplate events from the lives of Christ, the Virgin, or the saints, as if they were taking place before their eyes.
The delicacy of the Virgin’s head and the quality of the carving of this Madonna, with its pensive expression, stylized oval face, and characteristic high hairline suggest a connection with the most refined example of the type, the Krumlov Madonna, illustrated at right.

Physical Description:

Bust of Madonna with head facing down and to the side. The main sculpture is of wood with layers of paint on the face and veil.

Usage Rights:

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