Madonna of Erlach
Madonna of Erlach
Madonna of Erlach
Madonna of Erlach
Madonna of Erlach
Madonna of Erlach

c. 1320-1330

Material
Limewood

Collection
Dom Museum Wien

Inv.Nr.
I/3

Wood
Sculpture
Medieval art

On view

Query
Reproduction request
Loan request

Photo: Leni Deinhardstein, Lisa Rastl, Dom Museum Wien
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A unique Madonna

With her lovely face and her voluminous garment, the Madonna of Erlach is a fine example of medieval sculpture.

The Madonna of Erlach is a beautiful example of medieval craftsmanship. The colored sculpture shows the Mother of God holding the infant Jesus on her arm. Both figures are shown smiling. The delicately featured faces with the ruddy cheeks appear mild and sweet. The lowered heads and downward gazes indicate that the sculpture was once put up in an elevated position. Her garment shows drop and pipe folds, which make the lower half of the sculpture look voluminous compared to the slender upper body. The extensive drapery creates vivid light and shadow effects.

Both the mother Mary and the infant Jesus miss one forearm—Mary may once have held an apple in her hand. The hip leaning to the right gives the figure the slight S-curved shape that is typical of Gothic Madonnas. Such monumental Madonna representations developed from the sculptural type of the trumeau figure which graced the central mullion of the portals of French Gothic cathedrals, greeting congregants upon entering the building.

The Madonna of Erlach is not extant in its original form. It was first painted over still in the fourteenth century, and a second time in the course of a seventeenth-century restoration. The sculpture was put up in the church of St. Ulrich in Bad Erlach, Lower Austria, before it was purchased by the Vienna Dome and Diocesan Museum in the first half of the twentieth century. We have no knowledge of a comparable piece from within the cultural region of Austria. The patron commissioning the piece as well as its original location have remained in the dark to this day.