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Opening Virgin Triptych (Vierge ouvrante); known as 'Nuestra Señora del Paraíso' (Front, closed)

Opening Virgin Triptych (Vierge ouvrante); known as 'Nuestra Señora del Paraíso' (Front, closed)
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Front, open

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

Repository Institution

Évora, Museu de Arte Sacra da Catedral

EV.SE.1.006 esc.

Metal (later base);ivory;wood (only the later Virgin's head)

Height: 395mm
Width: 170mm
Depth: 142mm

Seated Virgin and Child; Christ seated on the Virgin's left knee; Virgin trampling a monster.
Wing, left
Register 1: Assumption (Virgin borne to Heaven by angels).
Register 2: Ascension; apostles; Virgin.
Register 3: Annunciation; vase of lilies.
Centre panel
Register 1: Coronation of the Virgin; two standing angels holding candlesticks; two angels swinging censers.
Register 2: Death of the Virgin (Dormition).
Register 3: Nativity (two swaddled figures of Christ); midwife holding Christ. Annunciation to the Shepherds.
Wing, right
Register 1: Visitation.
Register 2: Pentecost; dove of the Holy Spirit; apostles.
Register 3: adoring Magi (part of the Adoration of the Magi).

Trens 1945: probably 14th century.
Dos Santos 1960 and Estella Marcos 1984: Iberian peninsula, end of the 13th century.
León 2000-2001 (Cuadrado): Spain, early 14th century.


Ivory hinges.

Polychromy - Gilding
Extensive gilding and polychromy.

Back of the wings carved in such a manner that, when closed, the statuette takes the appearance of the seated Virgin and Child.

Object Condition
Missing: head of the Virgin (16th-century replacement). According to tradition, the original head was kept in Mora.
Later additions: Christ's necklace, Virgin's ring; metal base with inscription 'AVE MARIA'.

This triptych, when still in the convent, was only open once a year, on 15 August, feast of the Assumption.

Given in 1474 to the convent of Freiras by doña Isabel Afonso; kept at the convent (Convento de dominicas del Paraíso de Évora) until 1897 when it was transferred to the museum, following the closure of the convent.

J. Sarrète, Vierges ouvertes, Vierges ouvrantes, et la Vierge ouvrante de Palau-del-Vidre' (Lézignan-Corbières, 1913), pp. 135-137.
M. Trens, María. Iconografía de la Virgen en el Arte Español (Madrid, 1946), pp. 481-524, fig. 307-308.
R. Dos Santos, Historia del Arte Portugués (Barcelona, 1960), pp. 350-356.
M.-M. Estella Marcos, La Escultura de marfil en España románica y gótica (Madrid, 1984), pp. 136, 144-146, fig. 34.
G. Radler, Die Schreinmadonna 'Vierge ouvrante' von den bernhardinischen Anfängen bis zur Frauenmystic im Deutschordensland, Frankfurter Fundamente der Kunstgeschichte, vol. VI (Frankfurt, 1990), pp. 261-267.
Maravillas de la España medieval. Tesoro sagrado y monarquía, exhibition catalogue, León, Real Colegiata de San Isidro, 2000-2001, no. 186 (M. Cuadrado).
Alfonso X el Sabio, ed. by I. Bango Torviso, exhibition catalogue, Murcia, 2009-2010, pp. 340-345.
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 January 2013].


© Eugénio de Almeida Foundation; Photography by Carlos Pombo.

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