One of our most popular exhibitions is that showing the vierges romanes. These Throne of Wisdom madonnas are captivating and powerful iconographic images of the Romanesque era. Most of these are small (30 inch/76 centimeters), polychrome wooden statues from the 12th and 13th centuries. The Sedes Sapientiae(“Throne of Wisdom”) is an icon of the Mother of God in majesty and was found throughout Romanesque Europe.
But the woman, Mary, is not usually a young mother, but a mature woman. The child is small, but is not depicted as an infant or a baby, but rather more like a small adult. Both look directly ahead at the beholder. In few of these images will we find the maternal warmth of the Renaissance Madonna and Child (which came later) or the sorrow of the Mater Dolorosa. Instead, there is often a distant look, as if Mary is looking into the future, into the sacrifice that will be demanded of both herself and her Son.
Here are some links to articles we have written about the Throne of Wisdom madonnas.
The Throne of Wisdom
The Throne of Wisdom, Part 2
The Thrones of Wisdom
Our Dayton Opening
The Black Madonna of Dorres
The Three Virgins of Corneilla-de-Conflent
Interview on Black Madonnas, Marian Radio (July 2018)
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