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Head of a Grotesque

Date:
ca. 1200–1220
Geography:
Made in Champagne, France
Culture:
French
Medium:
Limestone
Dimensions:
Overall: 14 x 11 3/4 x 13 3/4 in. (35.6 x 29.8 x 34.9 cm) 82lb. (37.2kg)
Classification:
Sculpture-Architectural
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1913
Accession Number:
13.152.2
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 304
The comical effect of the muttonchop whiskers, bulbous nose, enormous eyes, and open mouth of this grotesque head demonstrates the extreme expressions found in marginal sculpture. The head resembles others on corbels supporting the roof cornice of one of the principal churches in Châlons-sur-Marne. The bold features, part of a visual language specific to medieval buildings, are meant to be seen from a distance. Recent research suggests that such bizarre heads may have been intended to ward off evil.
Possibly from the Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame-en-Vaux, Châlons-sur-Marne.; [ Demotte Inc.Paris and New York (sold 1913)]
Little, Charles T., ed. Set in Stone: The Face in Medieval Sculpture. New York, New Haven, and London: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2006. no. 41, pp. 108-109.

Dale, Thomas E.A. "Romanesque Sculpted Portraits: Convention, Vision, and Real Presence.." Gesta 46, no. 2 (2007). p. 107, fig. 4.



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