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The Virgin and Child from the Church of Saint Philip and Saint James in Toporc (today Toporec, Slovakia)

Date 1320–1330
Object type sculpture
Medium, technique lindenwood, with traces of gilding

117 × 40 × 25 cm

Inventory number 55.900
Collection Old Hungarian Collection
On view Hungarian National Gallery Building D, Ground Floor, Church Adornments – Gothic Art in the Hungarian Kingdom, 1300 – 1500

One of the oldest wooden sculptures in our collection was part of the earliest original furniture of the parish church of Szepes County. There are several other sculptures of the Virgin originating from the same area and from Lesser Poland, all from the first half of the 14th century, which are related to this masterpiece, not only in terms of their style, but also by a quite rare feature: the head of the infant Jesus can be removed and could be moved from a hidden position. As the faithful watched, Jesus would come alive before their very eyes, and the ceremony may even have been accompanied by dialogue between the Virgin and her Child.
These “active Madonna statues” might be the memories of a local liturgical practice. Most closely related in style to this sculpture is the Virgin from Ruszkin (today Ruskinovce, Slovakia), a village not far from Toporc, which is now in the Slovakian National Gallery (Slovenská národná galéria) in Bratislava. Supposedly, both were made in the same workshop, around the same time, but the sculpture from Toporc boasts superior artistic qualities.

This record is subject to revision due to ongoing research.

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