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Statuette (part of a group); Virgin and Child from the Abbey Church of Saint-Denis (Vierge de Saint-Denis) (Back)

Statuette (part of a group); Virgin and Child from the Abbey Church of Saint-Denis (Vierge de Saint-Denis) (Back)
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Cincinnati, The Taft Museum


Ivory;silver (19th-century crown)

Height: 348mm
Width: 120mm
Depth: 80mm

Standing Virgin and Child; Christ seated on left arm; Christ in long robe; Christ holding a fruit in his left hand; Virgin holding a flower in her right hand; brooch; ring on the Virgin's right hand.

Koechlin Number: 0097

Koechlin 1924: France, early 14th century (?).
Kimpel 1971: shortly after 1260.
Gaborit-Chopin 1978: Paris, ca. 1250-1260.
Gaborit-Chopin in Paris 1991: Paris, 3rd quarter of the 13th century.
Randall 1993, 1995 and 1997: Paris, 1260-1280.
Museum's opinion 2009: Paris, c. 1260-1280.


Polychromy - Gilding
Traces of gilding (hair and belt) and polychromy (belt). The flower held by the Virgin was originally covered with gold leaf (R. H. Randall, in The Taft Museum (1995), p. 462).

Carved in the round.

Object Condition
Missing: original gold-and-jeweled crown and jewel on the Virgin's breast, a gold setting with a large emerald centrepiece (removed in 1802; replaced by early 19th-century crown and 19th-century replacement ivory brooch).
Right arm of Christ broken in the 17th century and repaired with the original piece. Holes in the base.

The 1505 Saint-Denis abbey inventory mentions that the Virgin was originally accompanied by two standing angels and a small flying one (placed on a column behind the Virgin), crowning her. The 1634 inventory is the most detailed in its description, by then, the third angel seemed to have disappeared. For full transcription of the surviving documents, see Montesquiou-Fezensac and Gaborit-Chopin, 1977. The two standing angels were separated from the Virgin to be integrated in the reliquary shrine of Saint Placide and Saint Flavie after 1642 at Saint-Denis. After the Revolution, the confiscated reliquary was sent to Rouen Cathedral where it was changed into a shrine for the local patron saint, Romain. The angels have remained in Rouen since.

Abbey Church of Saint-Denis (until 1794; described in numerous inventories from 1505 onwards). Notre Dame de Paris (at least from 1802 to until 1811). Collection of Edouard Delacour, Saint-Germer (in 1889). Collection of Gaston Le Breton: sold, Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, 6 December 1921, lot 196. Bought from Duveen by Charles Phelps Taft and Anna Sinton Taft on 18 January 1924. Taft Museum collection since its opening in 1931.

Father M. Félibien, Histoire de l'abbaye royale de Saint-Denys en France (Paris, 1706).
Exposition rétrospective de l'art français au Trocadéro, exhibition catalogue, Paris, Musée du Trocadéro, 1889, no. 111.
E. Molinier, Histoire générale des Arts appliqués à l'Industrie (Paris, 1896), I: Les Ivoires, p. 88.
E. Dacier, 'Les grandes ventes. La collection Gaston Le Breton', in Revue de l'art ancien et moderne, XL (1921), p. 341.
R. Koechlin, Les Ivoires gothiques français (Paris, 1924), I, p. 105; II, no. 97.
Catalogue of the Taft Museum, 1939 and 1958, no. 454.
B. de Montesquiou-Fezensac, 'Le Reliquaire de saint Romain', in Monuments historiques (1956), pp. 137-141.
Trésors des églises de France, exhibition catalogue, Paris, Musée des arts décoratifs, 1965, no. 209.
D. Kimpel, Die Querhausarme der N. D. zu Paris und ihre Skulpturen (Bonn, 1971).
Art of the Courts of France and England from 1259-1328; L'Art et la cour: France et Angleterre 1259-1328, exhibition catalogue, Ottawa, Galerie nationale du Canada, 1972, no. 71.
M. Seidel, 'Die Elfenbeinmadonna im Domschatz zu Pisa', in Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, 16 (1972), pp. 1-50 (fig. 53).
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Bulletin, III:3 (May 1972), p. 28, fig. 5.
D. Gaborit-Chopin, B. de Montesquiou-Fezensac, Le Trésor de Saint-Denis (Paris, 1973 and 1977), I: Inventaire de 1634, pp. 30-32; II: Documents divers, pp. 47-52.
D. Gaborit-Chopin, Ivoires du Moyen Age (Freiburg, 1978), no. and fig. 200.
C. T. Little, 'Ivoires et art gothique', in Revue de l'art, 46 (1979), pp. 58-67 (esp. p. 62, fig. 9).
R. H. Randall, 'The Ivory Virgin of St. Denis', in Apollo, CXXVIII:322 (December 1988), pp. 394-398.
Le Trésor de Saint-Denis, exhibition catalogue, Paris, Musée du Louvre, 1991, pp. 195, 231-237, no. 45.
D. Gaborit-Chopin, 'La Vierge à l'enfant et les anges d'ivoire du trésor de Saint-Denis', in La Revue du Louvre, 4 (1991), pp. 26-27.
D. Torbet Johnson, 'Taft Museum', in Ventura, IV:16 (June-August 1991), p. 139.
In Praise and Prayer: Jewish and Christian Devotional Objects, exhibition catalogue, Cincinnati, Taft Museum, 1991-1992.
R. H. Randall, The Golden Age of Ivory: Gothic Ivory Carvings in North American Collections (New York, 1993), no. 3.
The Taft Museum (New York, 1995), pp. 462-464 (Randall).
Un Trésor gothique: la châsse de Nivelles, exhibition catalogue, Cologne, Schnütgen museum and Paris, MNMA-Cluny, 1995-1996, no. 40.
Images in Ivory. Precious Objects of the Gothic Age, ed. by Peter Barnet, exhibition catalogue, Detroit, The Detroit Institute of Arts, and Baltimore, The Walters Art Gallery, 1997, no. 5, pp. 124-126.
S. Guérin, 'An ivory Virgin at the Metropolitan Museum, New York, in a Gothic sculptor's oeuvre', in The Burlington Magazine 1311, Vol. CLIV (June 2012), pp. 394-402, fig. 14.


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