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Statuette; known as the Syon Virgin (Front)

Statuette; known as the Syon Virgin (Front)
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Detail, side




Private collection, London (in 2015)



Height: 237 mm

Seated Virgin and Child (Sedes Sapientiae); Virgin holding a stem of flowers in her right hand; Christ seated frontally; Christ seated on the Virgin's left knee; Christ in long robe; Christ holding an open book; Christ making a blessing gesture; crown; bench.
Sides of the throne decorated with two seated figures reading books; tracery.

Rock 1861: English artist, c. 1280.
Radiocarbon dating prepared by A. J. Walker (Radiocarbon dating measurement report no. RCD-1989, 15 February 2013) produced a 95% probability of a date for the ivory within the range 1215 and 1281.


Polychromy - Gilding
Extensive gilding: throne, hair, Virgin’s crown, stem of flowers, gold patterns along the hems.

Carved in the round.

Object Condition
The flower has become detached but appears to be original.

Brought to England in 1809 by the Bridgettine Nuns of Syon Monastery fleeing the French invasion of Portugal; purchased around 1836 by John Talbot, 16th Earl of Shrewsbury, 16th Earl of Waterford, Alton Towers, Staffordshire, in return for a £ 30 yearly pension for the nuns; bequeathed to Bertram Arthur Talbot, 17th Earl of Shrewsbury, 17th Earl of Waterford: his sale, Christie and Manson, 6 July - 8 August 1857, lot 1956, withdrawn; bequeathed to Bertram Arthur Talbot’s niece, Charlotte Sophia Fitzalan-Howard, Duchess of Norfolk; collection of Henry Granville Fitzalan-Howard, 14th Duke of Norfolk: his bequest to his son-in-law James Robert Hope-Scott (London), 1860, possibly on the occasion of his wedding; loaned to the South Kensington Museum, London, 29 July 1867- 26 September 1873; possibly bequeathed to Hope-Scott's brother-in-law, Henry Fitzalan-Howard, 15th Duke of Norfolk, according to a letter from his grandson, Major General Sir Walter Maxwell Scott (d. 1935); collection of Hermann Baer (London): purchased by a Dutch private collector in 1949; Sotheby’s, London, 4 December 2013, lot 33 ; private collection, London.

‘Proceedings at Meetings of the Royal Archaeological Institute’, in The Archaeological Journal XVIII (1861), pp. 275-276 (Rev. Canon Rock).
Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Works of Art of the Mediaeval, Renaissance, and more recent periods on loan at the South Kensington Museum, June 1862..., revised edition, exhibition catalogue (London, 1863), no. 204.
W. Maskell, Ivories Ancient and Mediaeval in the South Kensington Museum (London, 1872), p. 101.
W. Maskell, Ivories Ancient and Mediaeval in the South Kensington Museum (London, 1872), p. XCI.
E. Waterton, Pietas Mariana Britannica. A History of English Devotion to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of God (London, 1879).
G. V. Charlton, List of Relics, etc. in the possession of the Bridgettine Nuns in Lisbon…1738… brought to England in 1809 (1935), 3428 Box 50, Exeter University, Syon Abbey Library, no. 23 [unpublished].
J. R. Fletcher, A History of Syon Abbey and its Bridgettine Community [1940, unpublished], MS95, Exeter University, Syon Abbey Library, vol. 17.
C. de Hamel, The Library of the Bridgettine Nuns and their Peregrinations after the Reformation (London, 1991), p. 132.


© Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

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