Information provided by the Metropolitan Museum, New York:
German; Made in Rhine Valley
Poplar, plaster, polychromy, gilding ; 52 1/4 x 27 3/8 in. (132.7 x 69.5 cm)
The Cloisters Collection, 1948 (48.85)
The Virgin seated alone and mourning over the body of her son became a popular devotional subject in the later Middle Ages, developed from mystical writings that focused on the contemplation of the suffering of Christ and his mother. Here Mary shows the stiff awkwardness of intense grief, and Christ's body, rigid in death, bears the marks of the Passion. His small size not only throws the sculptural emphasis on the Virgin, but also reflects the idea expressed in the mystical literature that the Virgin, in the agony of her grief, imagined that she was holding the infant Christ again in her arms.
Photo: The Cloisters, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York