|The Throne of Wisdom
The metaphor of the Virgin as Christ's throne goes back at least as far as the 3rd century and Gregory Thaumaturgus' Second Homily on the Annunciation: "Thy praise, O Most Holy Virgin, surpasses all laudation, by reason of the God who received the flesh and was born man of thee. To thee every creature, of things in Heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, offers the meet offering of honor. For thou hast been indeed set forth as the true cherubic throne." ("Cherubic throne" refers to Psalm 80:1 [cached].)
Methodius' Oration Concerning Simeon and Anna (also 3rd century) speaks of Mary as the Christ Child's "virginal throne."
The identification of Christ with Wisdom itself is based on typological reading of the portraits of Wisdom in Proverbs 8:1-9:6 (cached) and in Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 24 (cached), which speaks of the "throne" of wisdom at verses 7 and 34.
In the 15th century a more "humanized" type evolves from the Throne of Wisdom in which Mary is teaching the Christ Child to read the book. One example is the De Werve Virgin and Child. Another is the Austrian Virgin and Child with Writing Case painting, where the lesson has put the child to sleep!
A similar painting is Filippo Lippi's "Madonna and Child Enthroned with Two Angels" (Metropolitan Museum 49.7.9, not represented here), with an open book on the child's lap. Like the Austrian example, Lippi's is a painting rather than a sculpture and features two angels behind the throne holding scrolls. The Austrian scrolls are blank, but on the left in Lippi's we find a passage from Sirach 24:26 -- "Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits." The "me" is Wisdom; thus, Mary as Throne of Wisdom continues to be the point of the artwork. Unlike any of the Throne of Wisdoms studied for this page, Lippi's has a pink/white flower (a rose?) in Mary's right hand.
At left, 13th-century sculpture from the Cloisters, New York City
12th-century Spanish sculpture
12th-century French sculpture
Romanesque high relief