In 1569 Lelio Orsi, a well-known pupil of Correggio, is commissioned to make a preparatory drawing, depicting the Virgin Mary and Child, for a fresco which four years later, the painter Giovanni Bianchi will realize on the wall of the Garden of the Servites in Reggio Emilia.
That specific image, named Madonna della Ghiara – after the place where the wall had been erected, in the old gravel bed of the Crostolo stream – soon gained a remarkable devotional connotation. This happened as a result of the many miracles manifested in its presence so to cause, in the following centuries, a large pilgrimage of devoted coming from all over the world, as well as a local production of prints, paintings and sculptures.
This beautiful ivory sculpture is a significant example of Madonna della Ghiara, clearly influenced by the original Lelio Orsi drawing: a Virgin Mary resting on a rock, hands folded in a prayer and gently leaning forward to the Child, which is sitting on a pillow with outstretched arms and smiling to her Mother.
Madonna della Ghiara, back view
In addition, the work here presented is embellished by the presence of a cherub, supported by a thin molded ivory pillar connecting the Virgin to an ebony triangular-shaped base, decorated with further ivory elements: two seated putti with open arms sitting on the front corners, a finely pierced central cartouche bearing the Latin inscription: Quem Genuit Adoravit and three lion paw feet.
MADONNA DELLA GHIARA
Carved ivory and ebony
Late 17th century
Cm 10,5 x 7 x 20,5 h.
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