Finial in the Shape of the Virgin and Child

Medieval (Gothic)
mid-15th century

Object Place: Europe, France or Rhineland


10.7 x 5.4 x 5.2 cm (4 3/16 x 2 1/8 x 2 1/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Gilded silver (Virgin: 94.5% silver, 4.2% copper, .9% gold, .4% lead; Christ: 94.9% silver, 2.7% copper, 2% gold, .4% lead; stem: 94% silver, 4.7% copper, .8% gold, .5% lead)

On View

I. W. Colburn Chapel Gallery (Gallery 254A)





Three-quarter-length statuette of the Virgin (holding the Christ Child on her left arm and pear in her right hand) emerging from a foliate bulbous base that has a tapered cylinder with a hole for attachment. Made in several pieces, the Virgin is thick, hollow cast and chased; her right hand, Christ, and the pear are solid cast, chased and soldered. Hair eyes, crown, and border of drapery are gilded. The crown is cast in one piece with two rivets for attachment to the top of the head. Wearing a high belted gown and mantle that falls in a loop under the right arm and up behind Christ, the Virgin has long wavy hair parted in the center. The nude Christ, with large head and short curly hair, touches the Virgin’s breast. A hammered base plate with scalloped edge is soldered to the base of the Virgin; below is another hammered plate from which emanate three small curled leaves with chased veins. Comprising upper and lower parts soldered together, the hatched bulbous base has soldered to its top three large leaves with soldered veins that divide and curl in various directions; on its underside are six small curled leaves with chased veins. Also soldered to the underside is a cylinder formed from a single sheet and chased crudely with a chevron pattern between two bands. A solid metal pin (about 30 mm.), wrapped with a drawn silver wire and placed within a thin silver sheath, extends inside from the top of the cylinder to about 5 mm. into the base of the Virgin. Given that the various parts are soldered, the purpose of the pin is unclear.


Richard von Kaufmann (b. 1849 - d. 1908), Berlin; December 4, 1917, Kaufmann sale, Cassirer and Helbing, Berlin, lot 425, sold for 13,000 M. March 5, 1929, anonymous ("v. B." collection) sale, Rudolf Lepke, Berlin, lot 220. 1950, Blumka Gallery, New York; 1950, sold by Blumka to the MFA for $2,500 [see note 1]. (Accession Date: January 12, 1950)

[1] The MFA acquired accession nos. 50.2, 50.3, and 50.4 together.

Credit Line

Helen and Alice Colburn Fund