10th Tiberius Auction
Carved limewood & polychromed
Height 61 cm
This high-quality vesper painting is a pictorial representation of Mary’s mourning, holding her deceased son in her arms. Such works have existed in Germany since the beginning of the 14th century. The devotional picture goes back to a Bohemian type, which first shows the mother in emotional turmoil. Later, in the 15th century, her posture becomes calmer and more contemplative, as in the present figural group.
Jesus’ body is draped over Mary’s lap; she is supporting his shoulders and has placed her hand on his crossed hands. Mary, however, does not seem to be looking at her son, but looking past him, possibly down at the viewers. This also suggests a higher positioning and intended view from below. In particular, the complex pleated drapery falling from her lap in the late Gothic manner is typical of the period. Jesus is clothed in a simple perizonium and is adorned with a crown of thorns worked out as a wreath. The last remnants of bodily tension can still be seen in the bent knees and the outstretched as well as crossed arms, but the head has already slumped limply backwards. His empty gaze is directed towards the sky and his mouth is slightly open, probably already in silent communion with God. In contrast to comparative examples of the time (e.g. Bavarian National Museum, Munich), the intimacy between mother and son is underlined here by the caring touch of their hands.
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