Here is a very impressive bust of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, portrayed as the Mother of Sorrows (in Latin, Mater Dolorosa). It is thought to have been modeled by either Enoch or Ralph Wood after Michelangelo’s Pieta in the Vatican collection. It was produced for some years in Staffordshire around the turn of the nineteenth century, and was a complement to the large busts of classical heroes and authors, notable politicians, royalty, gods and goddesses whose busts were also created to grace shelves and mantles in England and the United States. It stands over fifteen inches tall and absolutely rules the room it’s in. It’s close to life-size. This bust was once part of the McClelland Collection, and has the label on the bottom. It is in wonderful condition, with the only damage being a chip to the repair that was made when reattaching the front corner of the bottom. Looking closely at the colors, it looks like one of the glaze firings in the kiln resulted in losses to the purple, so the glaze color was reapplied and the bust fired again. This kind of thing happened because the kilns and the clay bodies were somewhat unpredictable in those days. When a minor flaw could be corrected easily by refiring, that’s what they did. Except for the professional repair on the front corner, this figure is just as it left the factory. Opinions differ as to who originally modeled this figure, but I incline toward Enoch Wood, who was trained as a sculptor and is known to have modeled many busts and figures for the factories his large family owned and was involved in. In fact, I show two photographs of another example of this same bust with “E Wood” written in the decoration on the back of the pedestal.

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Laureate Antiques

Staffordshire Figure if the Virgin Mary, Wood Family C.1790


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