29 x 21 x 71 cm
Statue of the Holy Mary, beautifully carved in oak and well preserved. The sculpture was hollowed out at the back, like most such statues. The Holy Mother is sitting on a chair, wears a crown and has the baby Jesus on her knee. Something she once held, probably a
scepter, is now lost, and one of the child‘s hands is missing, though the figure is otherwise undamaged. It was origianally painted, partly in blue and red.
The statue is thought to have stood in the church of the former monastery at Skriða, which was consecrated to the Virgin Mary and the Divine Blood.
Dedicated in 1512, the church was used until nearly the end of the 18th century, when it was deconsecrated. Whereas 17th and 18th century church audits mention a figure of Mary, the oldest preserved audits, dating from 1598 and 1610, mention no such thing. This supports the only reference connecting this figure with the monastery at Skriða, which is a short note by an English business man, Pike Ward. In Iceland around 1900, Ward came into
possession of numerous antiques. This statue is from his private collection, brought into the keeping of the National Museum of Iceland around 1950. He had the following to say about the statue:
When Iceland converted from Catholicism to the Lutheran religion, people had to destroy any figure of the Virgin Mary – and when the farmer at Klaustur by Lagarfljót was rebuilding his barn and tore down the walls of the old one, he found this image of the Virgin and a baptismal font. These objects were sent to Reykjavík, and, after a good deal of wrangling, I managed to acquire the figure of the Madonna.
It seems unlikely that such a well-preserved statue could have lain for centuries in dirt; probably, the Madonna was hidden during the Reformation, to be found again several decades later and placed in the church once more. Subsequently, the story of its finding accompanied the statue till the Englishman Pike Ward bought the „Skriðuklaustur Madonna“ in Reykjavík just over a century ago.