The Master of the Toruń Madonna - a descendant
The Madonna from Šternberk, the 1390s
argillite, polychrome; height 84 cm, Šternberk, Church of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, loaned for permanent exhibition in the Olomouc Archdiocesan Museum
The sculpture of the Šternberk Madonna was created in the 1390s as a successor to the Master of the Toruń Madonna, either for the castle chapel in Šternberk or for the local Augustinian Canon monastery. It is one of the most significant works of the Beautiful Style in the Czech lands. The Madonna from Šternberk bears all the characteristics of the style; an elegant s-shaped figure and decorative frills on the cloak. Her graceful face framed with golden hair has a melancholy, thoughtful expression, as if she was thinking about Simeons prophecy: "And a sword will pierce even your own soul." (Luke 2:35) The Madonna is unusually clothed in a red cloak, the colour symbolizing the suffering of Christ and his blood shed on the cross for the salvation of mankind. She is wearing a white veil, although it was originally a royal crown which symbolically identifies the Virgin Mary with the church, and as a devout soul; the bride of Christ from the Song of Solomon. Marys slender fingers are sunk into the naked body of baby Jesus. This motif refers to the Passion symbolism and the sacrament of the Eucharist. Jesus holds an apple in his left hand as a symbol of original sin. The Virgin Mary assumes the position of a second Eve because by becoming the mother of the Saviour she contributed to lifting the burden of original sin from all mankind. On the back of the sculpture is the engraved signature of „Hen(us)“ or „Hen(ricus)“, leading to the speculation about its creator, that it may have been Jindřich Parléř or his son Jan.