Relief

The Marriage of the Virgin

ca. 1450 (made)

Unknown

Height: 47 cm, Width: 37.5 cm

974-1907 SCP

Relief, walnut, from a larger altarpiece, The Marriage of the Virgin, Southern Netherlands (Brussels), ca. 1450

The group of figures stand on a sloping ground of black and white tiles. The high priest Zacharias, in the garb of a bishop with a cope and mitre, joins the right hands of the Virgin and the elderly St. Joseph - who supports his weight on a stick which he holds in his left hand - with the end of his stole, the action known as the 'dextrarum junctio'. On the left stands St. Joachim in a clasped mantle with a heavy earmine hood, and onj the right St. Anne in a turban like headdress, on elappet of which she holds in her hand. The relief retains much of its original colour and gilding, but has been retouched in places.

This relief originally formed part of a large altarpiece which would have been carved with scenes from the Life of the Virgin and the Infancy of Christ. The altar-piece was probably a side-altar in a church. It shows the marriage or betrothal of the Virgi Maryn, although the Bible does not in fact mention this episode. Here the high priest Zacharias joins the right hands of the Virgin and the elderly St Joseph with the end of his stole. St Joachim stands on the left and St Anne on the right. The relief was made about 1450. It has kept much of its original colour and gilding but it has been retouched in places. Joseph's robe is particularly interesting. It was once a stronger purple colour, and the sculptor has applied tiny copper domes over painted dots to make the surface more lively.

The relief shows the marriage of betrothal of the Virgin Mary. I This is a group from a large altarpiece which is likely to have shown scenes from the life of the Virgin and the Infancy of Christ. The altar-piece was probably a side-altar in a church. Bought, £67 12s. 3d.

Location: Sculpture, room 111, case 1

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