Virgin and Child, France, ca. 1275/1300. Ivory with paint, 36.8 x 16.5 x 12.7 cm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917, 17.190.295. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image source: Art Resource, NY
Large-scale Virgin and Child statuettes represent the apex of ivory carving in the Gothic period in France, and this sculpture is among the largest. Measuring 6.5 inches in diameter at its widest point, the solid statuette could only have been made from the tusk of a Savanna elephant. The artist has maximized the size of the figures of the Virgin and Child obtained from the large tusk and has added separate ivory pieces for the throne. This statuette was finished with fine details in paint and gold, another valuable commodity obtained from across the Sahara.