Unknown fifteenth-century sculptor from the Veneto

Virgin and Child

carved polychrome wood, height cm 170

First registered in 1679, this sculpture originally came from the oratory dedicated to the Virgin of the Rosario of Villa Astori of Martellago (Venice).

Made out of an uncertain number of wooden blocks, the sculpture represents the Virgin standing with her right foot on a crescent moon. In her arms is the Infant holding an orb. Great care has been infused in the making of Mary’s flowing robe and mantle and also in the rendition of her finely carved hair.

The sculpture’s original polychromy in tempera with lacquer finish is highly fragmented and can be only partially appreciated. During the restoration procedure, traces of pressbrokat (a particular technique imitating brocade) appeared on the mantle, which allow to date the sculpture to the early fifteenth century, attributing it to a Flemish area artist as confirmed by the adoption of the canons of ethereal feminine beauty in the figure of the Virgin, manifest in her fine youthful features and hairstyle.

At an unknown date the sculpture was altered and the Virgin’s long hair that used to cover her back was reduced to shoulder-length. Part of the Child’s original material was also removed with a loincloth of a different material added to it.