Statuette

Virgin and child

ca. 1650 (made)

Unknown

Height: 18.5 cm

A.58-1927 SCP

Statuette, ivory, the Virgin and Child, perhaps Brazil, ca. 1650

The Virgin stands facing frontally, holding the Christ child in her arms. The Christ Child holds an orb in his left hand, and may have been blessing with his right hand (now missing). The figure of the Virgin is plainly carved at the back. There are traces of paint on the draperies and the eyes have been darkened. The Christ Child's right forearm and hand are missing.

The Virgin stands facing frontally, holding the Christ child in her arms. The Christ Child holds an orb in his left hand, and may have been blessing with his right hand (now missing). The figure of the Virgin is plainly carved at the back. This is a puzzling piece: in the past it was assigned to Portuguese Goa in India, and later to Latin America, perhaps Brazil. If so, the raw ivory would have been imported into Brazil. The drapery style and doll-like features of the Virgin's face seem to confirm that it was made in Brazil, since these correspond to sculptures made there during the time of Portuguese rule. It probably dates from the mid-17th century. There are traces of paint on the draperies and the eyes have been darkened.

Longhurst assigned the piece to Portuguese Goa, but it was later called Latin American (Brazilian?), and the distinctive if plain style of drapery folds and doll-like facial features confirm the likelihood of this. A further possibility for its place of origin might be the Portuguese port of Macau, whence some ivories were on occasion exported to Brazil.

Given by Dr W. L. Hildburgh FSA in 1927

Location: In Storage

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