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Medieval Art in Focus I

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58 cm high, limewood with polychromy, carved in the round with both parallel and v-folds, the Child carved separately and attached with a nail, substantial remains of original paint, a blue on the cloak and a clear red on the tunic, also visible on the sleeves either side, white on the veil, some flesh tints on the faces, most of the eyes and even a few lines of writing on the open Gospels preserved, the right hands of Mother and Child missing, surface losses to upper back of Virgin and other small areas, the tip of the left foot of the Virgin and part of bottom and back sections of the throne now replaced, old iron brace in crown left.


This "rare Spanish Romanesque wood group of the Madonna and Child, Leon", as Sotheby's described it in 1984 [1], came from the collector Eric de Kolb who, together with his wife, assembled one of the largest collections ever of these groups. Most of them were dispersed on his death in the 1980s, when this one, always a personal favourite of de Kolb, was bought by a collector from Texas It is indeed "rare" and for various reasons. Sculptures from the 12th century are scarce compared to the healthy number of later ones, the provenance from León is uncommon since the majority are Catalan or from the Pyrenees and the unusually fine treatment sets it apart from a certain rustic or 'primitive' style associated with this tradition. Lastly, it is rare because it has suffered such minimal losses and repairs and has no layers of later paint, unlike many, if not most, of the surviving ones. All these factors together fully justify the term "exceptional" in relation to this unassuming group and it can safely be said that it is one of the finest early examples of its type which survives anywhere and certainly one of the very few in private hands.


Art Gallery, University of Notre Dame, July-September 1969, no 16 [2] .


[1] New York 23/24 November, lot 27 To top
[2] De Kolb, no 3.
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