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- Author Biecz workshop
- Date of production 2nd quarter of 16th century
- Place of creation Biecz, Poland
- Dimensions height: 112 cm
- ID no. AH/1281
- Object copyright Museum of Ziemia Biecka in Biecz
- Digital images copyright public domain
- Digitalisation RDW MIC, Małopolska’s Virtual Museums project
The figure of Mary comes from the Crucifixion Group, which includes the sculpture of St. John the Evangelist, her pendant, also in the collections of the Museum of Ziemia Biecka. Initially, it was believed that both figures were placed on the rainbow beam of the Biecz parish church. However, their small size in relation to the parish space, according to art historians, excludes this view. They probably topped of one of the altarpieces.more
The figure of Mary comes from the Crucifixion Group, which includes the sculpture of St. John the Evangelist, her pendant, also in the collections of the Museum of Ziemia Biecka. Initially, it was believed that both figures were placed on the rainbow beam of the Biecz parish church. However, their small size in relation to the parish space, according to art historians, excludes this view. They probably topped of one of the altarpieces.
The presented Madonna is a full sculpture, set on a small square base, and polychromed. The figure is shown frontally in contrapposto. Her hands are crossed on her chest – it is a gesture denoting the acceptance God’s will, as well as expressing pain. The face is elongated with gentle features, with clearly defined brow ridges and a large nose; the eyes and lips are gently modelled. Mary is dressed in a slightly draped red dress with a narrow, long, crinkled sleeve. She has a brown wimple around her head. A navy-blue cloak, with red lining, is flung on her head and shoulders. She holds it with her hand and its fabric falls onto her right side. The fabric is shaped softly, flowing around the body. The cloak has three large folds at the front. The polychrome is partially preserved and the layers of gilding are visible underneath.
Probably the model for this figure was Our Lady of Sorrows belonging to the Crucifixion Group from a beam in the church of St. Cross in Kraków because it replicated the body position and the characteristic draping of the coat fabric.
The Crucifixion Group as an iconographic representation is an illustration of the biblical Testament from the cross, according to the words: “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother: ‘Woman, behold thy son’. Then saith he to the disciple: ’Behold thy mother’. And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home” (Jn 19: 25-27).
This depiction was further developed in the Middle Ages. The core of the composition was a crucifix with flanking figures of the Mother of God and St. John in poses and gestures expressing pain. Over time, the scene was enriched by other participants, such as Mary Magdalene, embracing the base of the cross, Longinus, and the two crucified Rogues. The Crucifixion Group was most often on a rainbow beam, it also appeared as a scene in the altar or in the form of a small Passion.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.
Walanus Wojciech, Późnogotycka rzeźba drewniana w Małopolsce 1490-1540, Kraków 2006.