This type of sculpture, with the Christ child seated in the Virgin's lap in a frontal pose, is known as a Sedes Sapientiae (Throne of Wisdom). These seemingly straightforward images convey complex theological ideas. Mary serves as Christ's throne. Like his ancestors King David and King Solomon, Christ possesses wisdom and justice. Christ would have held a Bible, the divine wisdom that he himself embodies. From the 1100s, Mary was increasingly revered as a nurturing, merciful intercessor. Such statues were used as devotional objects, and they might have been carried in church processions. This image probably also functioned as a container for holy relics, since it has two cavities-one behind the Virgin's shoulder, the other at her chest, probably added later.


  • Title: Virgin and Child in Majesty
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1150–1200
  • Physical Dimensions: w317 x h795.3 x d292 mm
  • Type: Sculpture-Wood
  • External Link: MMA
  • Medium: Walnut with paint, gesso, and linen
  • Provenance Extent: Complete
  • Provenance: Émile Molinier , Paris; Georges Hoentschel, Paris (1855 - 1915); J. Pierpont Morgan (d. 1913), London and New York (until 1917)
  • Medium Extent: Complete
  • Description Extent: Complete
  • Culture: French
  • Credit Line Extent: Complete
  • Credit Line: Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1916

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