Madonna, 1913-20’s

Direct carving

There are four ecclesiastical carvings among Allen’s work, two early free-standing full-figures carved from golden oak, a large crucifix in oak and a bas relief carved in granite. This small Madonna and Child is quite traditional in its presentation. Mary is depicted as the queen mother with a crown indicating her royalty in the House of David. She is often called Queen of Heaven, her crowning having been painted by Christian artists since the 13th century or before.

The Madonna is youthful, yet dignified, neat and royal. The slim and stately figure stands in contraposto with the weight on the right leg and the left bent and forward slightly, the hips angled downward toward the left. There is detail and formality in the Madonna’s garment which drapes in angled folds across the waist, high on the narrow hips from the upper right to low on the left thigh. The center fold of the skirt rests at an angle on the floor below the left knee and a cascade of fabric hangs from the right hip. The toes of her shoes peek out from underneath. There is a halo carved above the back of her head and a three-pointed crown holding a scarf that blows out at both sides of her long neck, showing its lovely curve. Her chin is uplifted and turned to her left. Both arms are bent, the left holding the little infant in her hand. The wide right sleeve shows the extra detailing of another more fitted sleeve within the outer cuff from which the hand protrudes, slightly raised with the palm outward as if in blessing.

Since the carving is quite small and the wood grain loose, her features are less well-defined than in the larger carvings, but still delicate and refined. Fine details are more difficult to carve in coarse-grained oak so the smaller the carving, the coarser the details. Consequently, the tiny infant is alm0st primitive in appearance. However, the wood is a lovely light color with a shiny finish, giving it the polished look of a mature, finished composition.

With time and handling, a piece of the halo has broken off, but it doesn’t detract from the overall appearance of the lovely sacred church statue.

Title: Madonna
Alternate Title: Madonna and Child
Medium or Technique: Direct carving in golden oak
Dimensions: 18″ h, 3 1/2″ at base, 5″ at widest point
Exhibitions: St. Boltolph Club (10-21 April 1916)
Location: Private collection
Condition: Halo is broken and edge-worn; otherwise in very good condition

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