UNKNOWN MASTER, German
(active around 1270 in Cologne)

Virgin and Child Seated on a Broad Throne

c. 1270
Painted oak, height 62 cm
Schnütgen Museum, Cologne

Architectural sculpture and tomb sculpture were the main kinds of work carried out by sculptors attached to a cathedral workshop. In the second half of the 13th century sculptor-craftsmen organized in guilds began increasingly to carve wooden sculptures that were then coloured by specialized painters. These sculptures, commissioned by monasteries and other foundations and by parishes, had liberated themselves from architecture to become free-standing, movable statues.

The Schnütgen Museum in Cologne has in its collection a Virgin in Majesty that is famous under the name of the Virgin and Child Seated on a Broad Throne. Owing to its exceptional quality it was often thought to be a French work, but recent research revealed it to be the product of a Cologne workshop, not least because of the Rhine oak from which it is carved.