Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index

  • Title: Madonna and Child
  • Creator:
  • Description: This depiction of the Virgin and Child from the "Book of Kells" is the earliest known representation in a Latin manuscript. An enthroned Mary holds the Christ Child on her lap while he reaches out to her. They are surrounded by a border of zoomorphic interlace. An angel inhabits each corner of the image. Three hold a flabellum or flywhisk while the one in the lower-left corner holds a floriated object, perhaps a censer. Flabella were used during liturgical services to keep flies and other insects away from the priest and the consecrated bread and wine. This scene therefore carries Eucharistic overtones: the Christ Child is food for the community of the faithful, and the Virgin is the tabernacle that contains the Body of Christ.
  • Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Rights: Public domain
  • Subject (See Also): Angels Liturgical Instruments Mary, Virgin, Saint and Child
  • Geographic Area: British Isles
  • Century:
  • Date: ca. 800
  • Related Work: Book of Kells, digital copy from Trinity College, Dublin, IE TCD MS 58.
    Symbols of the four evangelists from the Book of Kells, fol. 27v.
  • Current Location: Dublin, Trinity College Library, MS 58, volume 1, fol. 7v
  • Original Location: County Meath, Kells, Abbey of Kells
  • Artistic Type (Category): Digital images; Manuscript illuminations
  • Artistic Type (Material/Technique): Vellum (parchment)
  • Donor:
  • Height/Width/Length(cm): 25.5 cm/33 cm/
  • Inscription:
  • Related Resources:

    Deliyannis, Deborah, Hendrik Dey and Paolo Squatriti. "The Book of Kells. Fol. 7v, Virgin and Child." Fifty Early Medieval Things: Materials of Culture in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Deborah Deliyannis, Hendrik Dey and Paolo Squatriti. Cornell Univeresity Press, 2019. Pages 180-183. Available with a subscription from JSTOR.

    Farr, Carol Ann. "'Bis per chorum hinc et inde': The 'Virgin and Child with Angels' in the Book of Kells." Text, Image, Interpretation: Studies in Anglo-Saxon Literature and Its Insular Context in Honour of Éamonn Ó Carragáin. Edited by Alastair J. Minnis and Jane Roberts. Brepols, 2007. Pages 117-134.

    Meehan, Bernard. The Book of Kells. Thames and Hudson, 2012.