Carved stone Virgin and Child
School of Troyes, Champagne,
Early 16th century
Height: 70 cm
Our work of rare delicacy marvels at its aesthetic and emotional power. The many movements created by the drapery animate the sculpture and break the stiffness of the stone.
The Virgin Mary is depicted as a young mother holding the Christ child in her arms.
Standing slightly forward, she is dressed in a round-necked gown with radiating folds, a large mantle draped over her shoulders, embroidered with plant scrolls and beaded trim.
The face is soft and fine, with a broad forehead and rectilinear superciliary arches, a long nose and half-closed eyes stretched to the temples, looking down modestly. Her soberly streaked hair bands frame her face, with its small, round, dimpled chin, and fall in wavy locks to her shoulders. She wears no veil, but her high forehead is crowned with a fleur-de-lys crown.
Her mantle, arranged in a multitude of tumultuous pleats, falls in broken folds downwards, partly covering her round-toed shoes. The wide flap of the cloak is raised to form an apron at the front.
The infant Jesus is comfortably ensconced in the fold of his long, angularly draped cloak, reminiscent of 15th-century drapery. Jesus' face is chubby, with a half-open mouth and slightly slanted, wide-set eyes. Dressed in a tunic, cross-legged and jovial, he is stroking a bird on his knee.
Our Virgin's face and drapery design are similar to those attributed to the Bouilly Master. The virgins in this group are among the finest in Trojan art, all adorned with fleur-de-lis wreaths. Some also feature the child held in both hands, in line with late medieval trends.
The best-known examples come from the churches of Mesnil-la-Comptesse, Allibaudieres, Saint Parre aux Tertres and Chauffour. One of the most famous, the Vierge du Thoult, is featured on the cover of the exhibition catalog "Le beau XVIe siècle: chefs d'œuvre de la sculpture en Champagne". In fact, we find the same fine face with streaked hair as on our sculpture (see comparisons).