Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

With her large body and frontal pose, the Virgin here functions as a throne for Christ, a visual expression of her status as the Mother of God and source of wisdom. While the symmetry and rigid composition of the work are characteristic of Romanesque sculpture, these qualities are disrupted by the soft lines of falling drapery and the off-center stance of the Christ child. Relatively lightweight, this sculpture was probably a cult statue carried in religious processions, touched, and even kissed, by worshippers. It may have held relics embedded in its body, which would have endowed it with a sacred presence. Remains of pigment and holes at both figures’ necks indicate that the sculpture was once painted and ornamented with precious metal or gems.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Unidentified Artist
Virgin and Child in Majesty (Seat of Divine Wisdom)
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Madonna and Child Enthroned
Work Type
Persistent Link
Level 2, Room 2440, Medieval Art, Medieval Art
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Physical Descriptions
Polychromed wood
69.2 x 30.2 x 22.2 cm (27 1/4 x 11 7/8 x 8 3/4 in.)
[Durlacher Brothers, New York, NY], sold; to Edward Forbes for Fogg Art Museum, 1937.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Friends of the Fogg Art Museum Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

[Reproduction Only], Magazine of Art, (November 1937)., p. 671, detail of head repr.

Evelyn Stevenson, "An Afternoon at the Fogg", Cambridge Chronicle (October 5, 1972)

Ilene H. Forsyth, The Throne of Wisdom: Wood Sculptures of the Madonna in Romanesque France, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ, 1972), pp. 148-150; pp. 197-8 no. 102; figs. 178-81

Jane Hayward and Walter Cahn, Radiance and Reflection: Medieval Art from the Raymond Pitcairn Collection, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY, 1982), p. 114, no. 41

Exhibition History

32Q: 2440 Medieval, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

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