This sculpture portrays the seated Virgin as the Throne of Wisdom (sedes sapientiae), a popular devotional image during the Romanesque period. The Virgin appears here not as the mother of a child but rather as the mother of God, an icon stiffly presenting the figure of the infant Christ on her lap while he raises his arm in a gesture of benediction. Such wood images were placed on altars, where they were the objects of religious devotion, but they were also at times carried in processions and appeared in liturgical dramas like the enactment of the story of the Three Wise Men.
Artist Italian
  • Madonna and Child Enthroned
Date ca. 1225
Medium Polychromed and gilded poplar
Dimensions Overall: 62 1/2× 21 1/4 × 20 inches (158.8 × 54 × 50.8 cm)
Credit Line Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edsel B. Ford
Accession Number 30.383
Department European Sculpture and Dec Arts
On View European: Medieval and Renaissance W242, Level 2 (see map)
Enrico Testa (Florence, Italy);
1930-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Heil, W. "An Italian Wood Madonna of the Thirteenth Century." Bulletin of the DIA 12, 2 (1930): p. 19 (ill.).

Francovich, Geza de. Scultura Medioevale in Legno. Rome, 1943, pp. 6-7 (pl. 6).

Carli, Enzo. Bois Sculptés Polychromes du XIIème au XVIème Siècle en Italie. Milan, 1963, p. 23 (pl. 20).

Treasures from the Detroit Institute of Arts, Exh. cat., The Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1966, p. 61.

Sculture Antiche dal II Secolo. Abbazia Santa Maria di Chiaravalle. Milan, (fig. 4, pl. 5)
Lieveaux-Boccador, Jacqueline and Edouard Bresset. Statuaire Medievale de Collection. 1972, pp. 60-61.

Darr, A. P. "A Valentiner Legacy: Italian Sculpture in Detroit." Apollo 124 (December 1986): pp. 476-477.

Lorenzelli, J., P.Lorenzelli, and A. Veca. Custode dell'Immagine, Scultura Lignea Europea XII-XV Secolo. Bergamo, 1987, p. 158-161 (fig. 182).

Darr, A. P., P. Barnet, A. Boström, with contributions by C. Avery... [et. al.]. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Detroit Institute of Arts,2 vols. London, 2002, cat. 31.