VIRGIN WITH THE CHILD
Gilded and polychromed wood
99 x 36 x 30 cm.
Burgos, 15th century
Virgin seated with the Child. Mary, in a frontal position, holds her son with her left hand, holding him by the lower part, while holding an open book with her right one.
We are in front of the typical educating Virgin, whose best-known sculptural example in its seated variant is the famous Burgundian carving from Poligny, today at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, attributed to Claus de Werve and dated from 1415-1417.
As for the Marian costume, it must be the so-called “habit”, a kind of long and closed tunic, considered the proper costume of honest women. The upper part has been painted in a different colour – white – suggesting that it is a different piece of clothing, but it may not be so judging from the detail of the extension of the folds on one side and the other of the fastener. In this case, the trapezoidal neckline and gathered, adorned at the edge with a chevron in relief imitating rhinestones, would correspond to the habit. Under this garment, he wears a shirt with the sleeves adjusted and painted greenish.
On top there is a cloak, which falls loose on both arms and tends diagonally from left to right, completely hiding the lower part of the habit.
Mary has her head uncovered, a formula spread from the fifteenth century, emphasizing its virginal status of the maidens. The garment of Jesus is reduced to a simple robe.
Mother and son share as an attribute an open book, in which there is a text that is preserved enough to verify that it is the response of the Virgin to the message of the archangel Gabriel in the Annunciation – Ecce ancilla Domini, fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum (Luke 1:38) – which marks the beginning of the Incarnation, culminated precisely in the birth of the Child. Finally, it should be noted that the seat of Mary is out of the ordinary, since the usual parallelepiped has been replaced by a curule chair.
The last model of this sculpture would be the so-called Virgin of the Choir of the Carthusian monastery of Miraflores (Burgos), attributed to Gil de Siloé and dated in the decade of 1489-1499.
This image enjoyed a certain popularity and Weise pointed out the existence of a carving inspired by it, Nuestra Señora del Espino, owner of the monastery of the same name in Santa Gadea del Cid (Burgos).
The specimen of Espino must have been the model of the La Rioja Virgins of Bergasa, La Santa de Cameros (currently in the Diocesan Museum of Calahorra), Azarulla, Treviana and Terroba, of the Navarre of Marañón and the Guipuzcoa of Mondragón.
The relations with the images of the Carthusian Monastery of Miraflores and the Monastery of Espino, both from Burgos, induce to link it with this school and perhaps with the circle of Gil de Siloé. However, other artists participated in the Burgos school, among them the Master of Covarrubias – author of the titular group of the triptych of the Epiphany of the collegiate church of Covarrubias – or the Master of Buena Mañana – author of the altarpiece of Our Lady of the Church of San Gil de Burgos.
As for its dating, it must necessarily be after the Virgin of the Choir, dated between 1489 and 1499. On the other hand, the format of the neckline of the habit, square and gathered will be used by this garment until the 20s of the 16th century, which leads us to place it within the first two decades of this century.