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Opening Virgin triptych (Vierge ouvrante; Virxe abrideira; colonnettes); known as the Virgen Abridera de Allariz (Front, open)

Opening Virgin triptych (Vierge ouvrante; Virxe abrideira; colonnettes); known as the Virgen Abridera de Allariz (Front, open)
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Front, open

Side, closed

Front, closed


Religious. Seven Joys of the Virgin. Life of the Virgin. Infancy of Christ.

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Allariz (Orense), Museo de Arte Sacro del Real Monasterio de Santa Clara

Inv. 1

Ivory;ebony (base)

Height: 250mm (ivory only); 75mm (base)

Seated Virgin and Child; Virgin trampling a lion under her left foot; Christ in long robe; Christ standing in the Virgin's lap; Christ seated frontally; Christ holding a fruit in his left hand; throne.
Wing, left
Register 1: standing angels holding candlesticks.
Register 2: three Holy Women at the Tomb, with angel seated on the tomb.
Register 3: Annunciation.
Centre panel
Register 1: Coronation of the Virgin.
Register 2: Ascension; Virgin and apostles; clouds.
Register 3: Nativity (Virgo lactans); Christ seated.
Wing, right
Register 1: standing angels holding candlesticks.
Register 2: Pentecost; dove of the Holy Spirit.
Register 3: Adoration of the Magi.

Koechlin Number: 0010

Sarrète 1913 and Koechlin 1924: France, 13th century.
Trens 1947: Spain with strong French influence, early 14th century.
Estella Marcos 1984: Spain, late 13th century.
Bango Torviso 1991 and González-García 1998: Spain, 13th century.
León 2000-2001 (Cuadrado): Spain, 3rd quarter of the 13th century.
Murcia 2010-2011 (Bango Torviso): Spanish, 3rd quarter of the 13th century.


Polychromy - Gilding
Traces of gilding and polychromy: gold (along the hems), blue (lining of clothes); red (lips); black (eyes); brown (hair; beards).

Carved in the round.

Object Condition
Missing: part of one of the jambs of the throne.
The hands of the Virgin and of Christ have been glued into place. The hands of Christ seem to be later. The circular base could be a later addition.
The dove of the Holy Spirit, in 1947, featured in the Nativity scene (see Trens 1947), but has been moved since to the Pentecost scene.

Believed to have been made for Violante of Aragon (b. 1236, d. 1301), queen of Castile, wife of Alfonso X, known as the Wise (b. 1221, d. 1284). Violante (also known as Yolanda of Aragon) founded the monastery of the Poor Clares in Allariz to be buried there. Though the ivory Virgin is not mentioned specifically in early texts, it is assumed it belonged to her patronage. According to a legend reported in Viaje por los reinos de León, Galicia y Principado de Asturias by Ambrosio de Morales (1572), the ivory statuette was carved by Enrique, the queen's dumb son who, after completing the sculpture, miraculously recovered his voice. See Estella Marco 1984 and González Hernando 2011 for transcription of early sources.

J. Villa-Amil y Castro, 'Virgen abridera de marfil conservada por las Clarisas de Allariz: I. Productos de eboraria en la iglesias de Galicia; II. Virgenes abrideras', in Boletín de la Sociedad Española de Excursiones, 7 (1899), pp. 83-86, 108-111.
E. Bertaux, L'exposition rétrospective de Saragosse. Texte historique et critique (Zaragoza and Paris, 1910).
A. López, 'A propósito de un centenario. Convento de Santa Clara de
Allariz', in Revista de estudios franciscanos (1912) I, pp. 281-284 and pp. 381-387; II, pp. 132-141.
J. Sarrète, Vierges ouvertes, Vierges ouvrantes, et la Vierge ouvrante de Palau-del-Vidre' (Lézignan-Corbières, 1913), p. 131.
R. Koechlin, Les Ivoires gothiques français (Paris, 1924), I, p. 52; II, no. 10.
A. López, 'Apuntes históricos sobre el convento de Santa Clara de Allariz (siglo XIII y XIV)', in Boletín de la Comisión Provincial de monumentos históricos y artísticos de Ourense, vol. VIII, no. 172 (1927), pp. 8-18; no. 173, pp. 25-32; no. 174, pp. 49-53.
El Arte en España. Exposición internacional de Arte, exhibition catalogue, Barcelona, 1929, no. 1.173.
M. Trens, María. Iconografía de la Virgen en el Arte Español (Madrid, 1946), pp. 481-524, fig. 303-304.
C. Baumer, 'Die Schreinmadonna in geographischer und chronologischer Ordnung', in Marian Library Studies, 9 (1977), pp. 237-272 (pp. 252-253).
D. Gaborit-Chopin, Ivoires du Moyen Age (Freiburg, 1978), p. 134.
J. Yarza, La Edad Media (Madrid, 1980), p. 342.
M. Estella, 'La Talla del marfil', in A. Bonet, Historia de las Artes Aplicadas e Industriales en España (Madrid, 1982), pp. 435-462 [esp. p. 449, fig. 317).
M.-M. Estella Marcos, La Escultura de marfil en España románica y gótica (Madrid, 1984), pp. 128-134, fig. 32.
G. Radler, Die Schreinmadonna 'Vierge ouvrante' von den bernhardinischen Anfängen bis zur Frauenmystic im Deutschordensland, Frankfurter Fundamente der Kunstgeschichte, vol. VI (Frankfurt, 1990), pp. 203-209.
I. Bango Torviso, 'Un tipo de imagen heterodoxa? La Virgen
abridera de Allariz y su tipología en la Península Ibérica', in Galicia no tempo, exhibition catalogue, Santiago de Compostela, 1991, pp. 131-148.
Galicia terra unica - románica y gótica, Ourense, exhibition catalogue, Santiago de Compostela, 1997.
M. A. González-García, La Virgen Abrideira de Santa Clara de Allariz (Ourense, 1998).
Maravillas de la España medieval. Tesoro sagrado y monarquía, exhibition catalogue, León, Real Colegiata de San Isidro, 2000-2001, no. 184 (M. Cuadrado).
Alfonso X el Sabio, ed. by I. Bango Torviso, exhibition catalogue, Murcia, 2009-2010, pp. 346-349.
I. Bango Torviso, La Abridera de Allariz. El imaginario de la Virgen en la sociedad hispana del siglo XIII (Murcia, 2010), pp. 138ff.
I. González Hernando, El Arte bajomedieval y su proyección: Temas, funciones y contexto de la Vírgenes abrideras tríptico (Editorial Académica Española, 2011), esp. pp. 279-282 (with more bibliography). Fully accessible online through the Editorial Académica Española site: http://www.ucm.es/centros/cont/descargas/documento35755.pdf [accessed December 2012).
M. R. Katz, 'The Non-Gendered Appeal of Vierge Ouvrante Sculpture: Audience, Patronage, and Purpose in Medieval Iberia', In Reassessing the Role of Women as 'Makers' of Medieval Art and Architecture, ed. by T. Martin (Leiden, 2012), pp. 37-92.
For detail views, see here: http://caminoallariz.com/web/galerias/museo-virgen-abrideira [accessed December 2012].


© Fundació Institut Amatller d’Art Hispànic. Arxiu Mas.
Photography: 1929.

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