The stocky proportions, facial type, S-curve pose and heavy drapery of this Virgin and Child figure demonstrate a provincial familiarity with the International courtly style of the Ile-de-France or Burgundy and is typical to later medieval religious imagery from the "Lotharingian" school of Lorraine. With the right foot forward and left hip protruding diagonally to support the Christ child, the hip-shot or S-curve pose is characteristic of fourteenth century Marian sculpture from eastern France and the lower Rhine valley, as William Forsyth has explained ("The Virgin and Child in French Fourteenth Century Sculpture: A Method of Classification," The Art Bulletin 39, 171-182.).
The Virgin's smooth undergarment, gathered above her fashionably full womb by a rosette-studded girdle and visible beneath an open mantle, the heavy fold of regularly composed drapery, the position of the Virgin's hand that supports the Christ child and the composition of the Child's legs belie its origin. Despite the Virgin's visage arrondi and fleshy double chin, traits typical for the Burgundian school, the sensitively chiseled feline eyes, sweetly restrained emotionalism, broad forehead and softly angular jaw line point to an origin in Lorraine, the Meuse Valley or Champagne. Closely related examples can be found at Amherst College, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Smith College Museum of Art, while a seated version is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The iconography of this piece, particularly the flowering lily the Virgin holds in her right hand, a symbol of her purity as the Mother of God and of the Annunciation, is typical for Marian figures from Burgundy and Lorraine (ibid, fig. 2). The girdle, a reference to the Madonna's chastity, is studded with rosettes that forecast the Passion and martyrdom of Christ as well as Mary's emotional suffering. By wearing an elaborately carved and parcel-gilt crown, Mary is also presented as the Queen of Heaven. The Christ child holds a dove or goldfinch, both of which allude to his role as the Savior. Such intricate iconography, also found in the growing proclivity for liturgical rites and devotional imagery, is characteristic of the increasingly popular cult of the Virgin during the late Gothic period.
Because of the excellent condition of the face, polychromy and drapery, the overall scaled monumentality of the figure and the intended low viewing point, it is likely that this figure featured prominently in an interior devotional chapel or high altar. In such a setting, Mary as Mother of God and Queen of Heaven would also likely have been identified as the Mother of the Church.