Sedes Sapientiae, the Madonna and Child enthroned
The Thyssen-Bornemisza Sedes Sapientiae is one of a very small number of well-preserved examples of thirteenth-century wooden sculpture from Umbria outside of Italy. This is the first time it can be seen in public since the Thyssen-Bornemisza family museum in Lugano, where it had been since 1938, closed its doors to the public. The famous monumental Umbrian Madonnas of which the present group is an outstanding example seem to be based on a common prototype. Because the Sedes Sapientiae from San Sepolcro in the Bode-Museum in Berlin bears the particularly early date of 1199 it is often put forward as the first example of its kind. Perhaps due to the miraculous nature of this prototype similar Madonnas were carved for churches throughout Central Italy during the thirteenth century. Their stately composition and soft, unmistakably Italian charm place them among the most iconic images of Italian medieval art.