The Madonna is enthroned upon a cushioned rock bench, her head inclined toward the infant Christ lying in her arms. The tiny body of the baby, easily missed in the mass of fabric, is in fact given prominence by the complex folds of the material: both Mary’s veil and the folds at her knees insistently direct our gaze back to the Christ Child, accentuating his central role in the composition. The motif of the feeding bottle is a nineteenth-century invention. What is original, in contrast, is the closure of the back side of the hollowed figure with a piece of wood whose surface was worked to look like the relief surface of the rest of the sculpture, thus making it possible for the figure to be viewed from any side. This marks the beginning of a wholly new development: in the second half of the fifteenth century, small works of art such as this Berlin Madonna no longer served solely as votive images but were valued, given the artistry of their execution, as collector’s items.


  • Title: Seated Virgin and Child
  • Creator: Michel Erhart
  • Date Created: c. 1480/85
  • Physical Dimensions: 39x 34.5 x 21.5 cm
  • Type: Figure
  • Medium: Limewood
  • Object acquired: Acquired in 1882 in Munich
  • Inv.-No.: 408
  • ISIL-No.: DE-MUS-815614
  • External link: Bode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyrights: Text: © Prestel Verlag / Petra Rasckewitz
  • Copyright: Photo © Skulpturensammlung | Bode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Antje Voigt
  • Collection: Skulpturensammlung | Bode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz
  • Artist dates: 1469/1522
  • Artist Place of Death: Ulm
  • Artist Nationality: Germany
  • Artist Gender: male
  • Artist Birthplace: Ulm

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