The Beautiful Madonna of Wrocław

Quality in any of the liturgical arts is of paramount importance, but one area I have frequently touched upon in this regard is the area of sculpture -- quite likely because there have been so many examples of those that have been poorly and/or sentimentally done in this past century or so. The National Museum in Warsaw has an excellent example of what sculpture ought to be and I wished to share it with our readers today. That sculpture is the "Beautiful Madonna" of Wroclaw (Piękna Madonna z Wrocławia).

The Beautiful Madonna of Wroclaw is a late fourteenth century limestone sculpture that stands around 44" in height with polychrome detailing. The sculpture was originally situated in the church of St. Elizabeth (kościół św. Elżbiety) in the medieval city of Wroclaw. There is an elegance and harmony to be found in the juxtaposition of the two figures of Christ and the Madonna and when I first saw this sculpture, it immediately stood out for its particular refinement.

You will see that this is a fully three dimensional sculpture, the back side having also been carved:

Some details of the upper half show the beautiful details of the Madonna and Child; the Madonna's delicate facial details and expression are particularly beautiful.

A detail taken in profile shows this even better.

As I noted only recently, it would be (and is) far better, be it for a church or for a Catholic home, to have fewer sculptures that are characterized by noble beauty, and made of worthy materials, than to have greater numbers of poorer, lesser imitations. After all, which will be the more likely to inspire and which will better communicate the particular value and importance that we place in the sacred liturgy and Catholic Faith?

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