Madonna and Child
German (Cologne) or Flemish
Madonna and Child, second half of 15th century
Most of the sculpture made in Germany and the Netherlands during the fifteenth century was carved from wood, which makes this bronze piece quite rare. The production of such a large bronze required a complicated casting process in which the figure is first modeled in clay. Probably designed for an altar or niche and intended to be viewed frontally, the Madonna has a groove at the back of her head that is likely to have held a crown. That the figures reveal no attempt at idealization, either in the description of the faces or in the overall proportioning, is characteristic of northern European art from the late middle ages. Shown in a rather awkward pose and with somewhat homely features, the Christ Child in particular reflects a shift in this period toward a more humanistic depiction of sacred subjects.