NORTH EASTERN FRENCH, POSSIBLY ARBOIS, CIRCA 1530
VIRGIN ANNUNCIATE WITH A DONOR
walnut, with remnants of polychromy, on a modern metal base
119cm., 46⅞in. overall
Overall the condition of the wood is good, with wear and some dirt to the surface consistent with age. There is extensive evidence of past worming, in particular around the bottom where it has led to losses, including to the saint's feet, the bottom of the lectern and the kneeling donor's proper left arm and hand. There appear to be some well-concealed reattachments to the fingers of the proper right hand. There is minor stable splitting to the wood, consistent with the material. There is a circular indentation at the Virgin's proper right hip. The surface is a little rough in areas, notably at the swathe of drapery around the knees, where there appears to be a varnish. The polychromy is largely worn. There are areas with remnants of the whitish ground, notably to the Virgin's face, neck and hair and some skin tones to the hands. There are some minor traces of gilding, notably to the proper left hand. There is minor general wear to the metal base.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
Sotheby's London, 18 November 2009, lot 263
This Virgin Annunciate of impressive size displays a number of details that have been carved with great virtuosity. The prie-dieu at which the Virgin is reading shows a kneeling figure with a banderole: a donor, judging by his garb a clergyman. The Virgin's elaborate locks of hair, which fall in single strands down her front and have been tied at the top of her head, together with her low, V-shaped and belted waistline and squared, decorated neckline, indicate a possible origin for the present figure in the Troyes region, or at least an influence of the Troyes school. Compare, for instance, to the limestone Virgin and Child in the Hôtel-Dieu of Troyes (Boccador, op. cit., fig. 128, which has a similarly belted waist with a loop at the centre. Further comparison can bee seen in the facial features, and the kneeling donor - possibly a bishop - situated at the feet of the Troyes Virgin.
Two figures of Holy Women in walnut in the Staatliche Museen Berlin (op. cit. figs. 123 and 124), also compare to the present lot: note the squared necklines with visible under-tunics, as well as the finely gathered ruched shirt-sleeves appearing from underneath the heavier folds of drapery. Perhaps most similar to the present Virgin Annunciate is the Vièrge d'Arbois (Baudoin, op. cit. fig. 525 and 525bis), which compares in the similarly looped and tied sash around the waist, the square neckline, the elaborately tied hair which falls down in individual strands, and the gathered sleeves. A possible origin for the present sculpture in Arbois could therefore be suggested. Boccador (op. cit. p. 158) notes an influence on the Arbois Virgin from the Troyes school, as well as the wider Champagne region. Single monumental figures with a kneeling donor also seem to have been a characteristic of school of Troyes - note, besides the Virgin mentioned above, a figure of Saint James with a kneeling donor, dated circa 1520: the donor is sat at a prie-dieu, and is identified with a similar banderole of text to the present lot (Boccador, op. cit., fig. 170).
J. Boccador, Statuaire Médiévale en France de 1400 à 1530, vol. II, Zoug, 1974, pp. 107-166; J. Baudoin, La Sculpture Flamboyante en Bourgogne et Franche-Comté, Nonnette, 1999, pp. 339-341