The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
The Virgin and Child
  • Plaque
  • The Virgin and Child
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Italy
  • 1521
  • Tin-glazed earthenware, painted
  • Diameter: 34.8 cm
  • Inscription: 'mentem . satam. / spōtaneam. hono / re deo . Et. patri. libera / cionem:' 'A holy and sincere mind, honour to God, and the liberation of the Fatherland'
    Date mark: '1521'
  • C79
  • Sixteenth Century Gallery
Commentary
History
Further Reading
  • This unusual wall plaque is surprisingly archaic for 1521, the date inscribed to the side of the Virgin’s head. The depiction of the Virgin nursing the infant Christ is taken from an anonymous fifteenth-century German woodcut. The maiolica painter has embellished the figures and added a taut scroll inscribed in Gothic script with a phrase that was used in the Middle Ages to protect against fire and lightning. Mother and child are posed reflectively within the scroll, arranged to represent a window. The Virgin leans forward out of the frame, suggesting, perhaps, engagement with the wider world even during this moment of intimacy.