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19th century Italian black Madonna sculptural relief with gold leaf and baroque pearls. The baroque pearls are adorned as the hair framing the Madonna's face. The piece originally came from a church in Tuscany. Black Madonnas appear in many historic paintings and artwork throughout Europe and a large amount of these depictions were created around the Mediaeval period.
There are many theories as to the origin of the Black Madonnas’ dark skin. One is that these images illustrate a text from the Song of Solomon that reads, “I am black and beautiful” (Song of Sol. 1:5). The Song of Solomon was a much-loved biblical text in the early medieval period when many of these images were created and a special devotion to Mary existed in monasteries.
According to the Benedictine oblate and author, Christine Valters Paintner, "The Black Madonna roots Mary in the struggle of her Black and brown sisters for justice. Mary in her beautiful blackness offers us a love in which she unequivocally claims that every oppressed person should be nourished, cherished, and welcomed. She compels us to act for justice out of this witness of expansive love."
Together, the sculptural relief creates an important, historic, figurative work of old.
Size: 21" high x 15" wide x 3" deep