Object type

wood carving


The Virgin Mary

Place Associated

Spain, Catalonia (place of manufacture)




wood, paint


overall: 1213 mm 8950 g


This wooden statue of the Virgin Mary is carved three quarters in the round. The figure, which is shown with clasped hands in front of her breast and bending in an elegant curve to the left, still retains much of its original colour. The Virgin is shown wearing a full-length red gown with collar and girdle, and a blue cloak covering her head and shoulders. Both garments show traces of what once must have been an elaborate patterned decoration. Below the cloak, a veil decorated with horizontal stripes and some strands of the Virgin’s hair are visible.

The statue forms a pair with a wooden carving of Saint John the Evangelist, which also is part of the Burrell Collection (ID number 5.28). Together, they would have belonged to a Crucifixion group, and displayed underneath a representation of Christ on the cross.

Scenes from Christ’s Passion and especially the climactic moment of Christ’s death on the cross were popular themes in European medieval art. Especially in the late medieval period, the devotional focus shifted towards Christ’s humanity and suffering for humankind, which is why the protagonists of these stories often show a wide range of human emotions such as intense compassion and grief. Here, the Virgin Mary’s grief at the sight of her dying son is expressed through her hands clasped in sorrow.

The two figures are not carved completely in the round; this suggests that their backs were not intended to be seen, and that they may have been displayed against a wall, probably in a church setting.

The two sculptures were purchased by Sir William Burrell in 1933, from the dealers Gebrüder Bernheimer in Munich. They were auctioned off earlier in the same year by Hugo Helbing, Munich, as part of the sale of the Collection Marcell von Nemes (1866-1930), Budapest.

Credit Line/Donor

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


Burrell Collection: Wood Carvings

ID Number



Burrell Collection

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