The workshop of Michel Erhart was one of the most successful in Ulm, a prolific center of wood sculpture during the late Gothic period. This imposing life-size Virgin, originally polychromed and gilded, would have been the central figure in a large altarpiece. Here the Madonna holds an energetic child, who interacts with the viewer rather than with his mother. The crescent moon beneath the Virgin’s feet is an allusion to the Apocalyptic Woman (Rev. 12:1–5), clothed in the sun with the moon at her feet and whose infant son is taken up to God. Furthermore, the moon seen as a symbol of inconstancy here is vanquished beneath the feet of the Virgin.
Artist Circle of Michel Erhart, German, ca. 1440-after 1522
Title
  • Virgin and Child
  • Virgin and Child on the Crescent Moon (alternate title)
  • Mondsichelmadonna (alternate title)
Date ca. 1480
Medium linden wood with traces of polychromy and gesso
Dimensions Overall: 64 × 17 1/2 × 13 inches (162.6 × 44.5 × 33 cm)
Credit Line Gift of Ralph Harman Booth
Accession Number 22.3
Department European Sculpture and Dec Arts
On View European: Medieval and Renaissance W240, Level 2 (see map)
Benedictine Abbey (Zwiefalten, Germany);
Art market (Ochsenhausen, Germany);
Krupp collection (Essen, Germany);
dealers, J. and S. Goldschmidt (Frankfurt, Germany);
until 1922, Ralph H. Booth (Grosse Pointe, Michigan, USA);
1922-present, gift to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

T. Demmler, "German Gothic Sculptures in the Ralph N. [sic] Booth Collection, Detroit," trans. C.B. Ely. Art in America 11, 4 (1923): pp. 164-70 ( fig. 5 ill.).

Valentiner, Wilhelm R. "New Period Rooms." Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 4, no. 4 (January 1923): pp. 26–32, 29.

P[oland], R[eginald]. "Gifts From Ralph H. Booth." Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 6, no. 8 (1925): p. 91 (ill.).

Otto, Gertrud. Die Ulmer Plastik der Spätgotik. Reutlingen, 1927, p. 92, fig. 96 (ill.). [as by Gregor Erhart]

E. P. Richardson. "A Madonna Statue by Jorg Syrlin The Younger." Bulletin of the DIA 15, 4 (1936): p. 51.

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G. Otto. Gregor Erhart. Berlin, 1943, pp. 74-75.

W. R. Valentiner. "Late Gothic Sculpture in Detroit." Art Quarterly 6, 4 (Autumn 1943), p. 304-305, (fig. 24 ill.).

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I. Himmelheber. "Ein Ulmer Bildschnitzer der Spätgotik," Jahrbuch der Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen in Baden-Württemberg 6, 3 (1969): p. 40-42,(ill.).

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A. Miller, "Die Kunstgeschichte des Klosters Ochsenhausen im Mittelalter und in der Renaissance." Ochsenhausen, Von der Benediktinerabtei zur oberschwäbischen Landstadt, (1995): pp. 219-220, 242 (fig. 75 (ill.).

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