Virgin and Child, 13th-14th centuries
The Virgin played a key role in the religion of medieval populations, overwhelmingly illiterate and highly sensitive to the power of image. Her representations, associated with the Child, stressed her protective and pleading role as Mother of God, and brought the divine closer to the faithful.
VIRGIN AND CHILD
Northern Iberian Peninsula
Did you know that…
The Virgin and Child images are part of a long tradition in the representation of mother divinities stretching back to Prehistory?
It is said that an image is worth a thousand words. In fact, the Catholic population of the 13th and 14th centuries, who were largely illiterate, were very well versed in the power of the image, and such means accounted for most of the mediation among the faithful and the divine powers.
Through images, and their didactic and doctrinal power, the Church overcame the barrier of the Latin language and the complexities of theology. The Virgin – interceder and protector par excellence – had a central role.
Dated to the late 13th or early 14th century, this figure of the Virgin shows a transition between the Romanesque and Gothic styles and sensibilities. Although incomplete, the composition retains a certain beauty, enhanced by the remains of the original polychrome. The Virgin – here represented as the Mother of God – is crowned and enthroned. On her lap she holds the infant Jesus, crowned and ornately dressed, and yet barefoot. With his right hand, he blesses the faithful, while holding the Sacred Scriptures in his left. The right hand of the Virgin is possibly later, and would have held a flower, globe, or sceptre.
Although the provenance is not certain, it may be the product of a workshop in the Northern Iberian Peninsula – given the similarities with other examples known from this region.