This is a fine example of its type, retaining traces of original bright-painted decoration, and may well have belonged to William Cecil, Lord Burghley (1520-1598).
It was certainly at Burghley in 1688, when the famous Inventory recorded it as: ‘A Virgin Mary with Our Saviour in armes in Allablaster’. It was in ‘My Ladyes Anty Roome and Clossett’, under the heading ‘China over the chimney.’
Height 43.2cm, width 28cm, depth 19cm.
The figure had long been considered to be either Flemish or German, but expert opinion now is that it is, in fact, English, and from the Nottingham area.
The alabaster contains the reddish veining typical of the fauld mines in the Midlands and the reverse of the sculpture is consistent with English alabaster sculpture.