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Pieta group

Alabster figure of Pieta, made in Middle Rhineland, Germany or South Netherlands, circa 14301450

Alabster figure of Pieta, made in Middle Rhineland, Germany or South Netherlands, circa 14301450

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This small alabaster sculpture is in the form known as a 'Pieta', a word meaning 'pity' or 'compassion' in Italian. It was made around 1430 to 1450 in Germany or Flanders (a country which at that time encompassed present day Belgium and part of the Netherlands). The sculpture was made as a focus for private Christian devotion, and was particularly relevant to the cult of the Virgin Mary, this emotional moment of intimacy being one of Mary's 'Seven Sorrows'. The seated Virgin, dressed in flowing robes, looks sadly down at the dead body of her son, Jesus, who lies across her knees. His body is twisted forward, towards the devotee, and his hands with prominently visible wounds lie flat and clearly visible against his thighs. Traces of paint survive on his crown of thorns and beard, indicating that this sculpture was once coloured.

This work is very similar to high-quality pieces made by a sculptor called 'The Rimini Master' (his actual name isn't known). Other sculptures associated with this Master include several small Pieta groups like this one; they may have been made by his pupils.

Gifted by Sir William and Lady Constance Burrell to the City of Glasgow, 1944

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