Throne of WisdomFrench, 1150-1200
Oak, gesso, polychromy, linen
More of the Throne of Wisdom
Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Information provided by the Metropolitan Museum, New York:
French; Made in Auvergne
Oak, polychromy, gesso, linen; H. 31 in. (78.7 cm)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1916 (16.32.194)
This Virgin and Child enthroned in majesty is known as a Throne of Wisdom that is intended to express the complex dogma of the incarnation of Christ. Here the Virgin is understood as Mother of God and Jesus as the living logos (Word of God). At the same time such an image often functioned as a container for holy relics and this figure contains two cavities probably for this purpose; one that is still intact is concealed behind the Virgin's shoulder, the other panel in the front on her chest is a later addition.
A gift to the Museum by the famous financier and collector J. Pierpont Morgan, this masterpiece of wood carving possesses extensive sections of its original polychromy, especially on the throne and on the cushion. The figure combines the abstract yet lyrical drapery patterns of the mantel with a more natural face. These are characteristic of a series of statues produced in central France during the twelfth century.
Provenance/Ownership History: Ex colls: Émile Molinier, Paris, France; Georges Hoentschel, Paris, France; J. Pierpont Morgan, New York