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English Artist

The Education of the Virgin, early 15th c
Alabaster on stone
16 1/4 in. x 10 1/4 in. x 4 in. (41.28 cm. x 26.04 cm. x 10.16 cm.)

Creation Place: Europe, English
Technique: Carving
Credit Line: Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, 1961
Accession Number: P61.2.1
Alabaster relief

This alabaster relief by an unknown English artist depicts the Virgin Mary as a child, being taught to read by her parents. Mary, crowned, reads from a book on a lectern while her parents stand to either side. Saint Anne, her mother, is to her left, gesturing toward the page; her father, Joachim, stands to her right, holding a rosary in his left hand. Stylistically, the work is typical of late fourteenth-century English carving, but its subject matter is unusual. Depictions of the Virgin being instructed by her mother are common, but it is extremely rare to find both parents represented; only one other example, in the Museo Arqueologico Nacional, Madrid, has been recorded.

Although the condition of the relief has deteriorated over the centuries, the delicately carved figures still possess remarkable grace and beauty, and the spirit of the work remains intact.

Ulrich Middeldork, 'Sculptures from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: European Schools XIV-XIX Centuries'
London: Pahidon Press, 1976. Page 119 and plate 199.

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A box of Xrays of the Kress Collection is on Shelf G in the Vault (6/5/2018).

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