Saint James the Greater is shown in his traditional medieval guise of a pilgrim, wearing a soft brim hat emblazoned with a cockleshell emblem and holding a book and a staff (now lost). His shrine at Santiago de Compostela in Spain was the third most popular pilgrimage site after Jerusalem and Rome.
The statue was discovered together with the statue of Saint John the Baptist (exhibited nearby) in a garden-wall niche outside the church of Mouthier-Viellard in Poligny (southeast of Dijon). These sculptures bear the marked influence of an earlier generation of sculptors, principally, Claus Sluter (active 1379–d.1406) and Claux de Werve (active 1396–d.1439), both of whom worked for Duke Philip the Bold.
François Vuillermet, Poligny (until 1918) ; [ Georges J. Demotte 1877–1923, Paris and New York (1918– sold 1933)] ; [ Brummer Gallery, Paris and New York (1933–sold 1947)]
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Arts of the Middle Ages: A Loan Exhibition," February 17, 1940–March 24, 1940.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Mourners: Medieval Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy," March 1, 2010–May 23, 2010.
Arts of the Middle Ages: A Loan Exhibition. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1940. no. 197, p. 60.
Rorimer, James J. "Late Medieval Sculpture from the Byways of Burgundy." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 9, no. 7 (March 1951). p. 183, fig. ill. p. 182.
De Winter, Patrick M. "Art from the Duchy of Burgundy." The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art 74, no. 10 (December 1987). p. 448, n. 21.
Forsyth, William Holmes. "Three Fifteenth-Century Sculptures from Poligny." Metropolitan Museum Journal 22 (1987). pp. 80-91, fig. 18, 21, 23-27,.
Wixom, William D. "Late Medieval Sculpture in the Metropolitan: 1400 to 1530." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 64, no. 4 (Spring 2007). pp. 18-19.
Witt, Sabine. Die Skulpturen der Sluter-Nachfolge in Poligny: Stiftungen und Hofkunst in der Freigrafschaft Burgund unter den Herzögen aus dem Hause Valois. Korb: Didymos-Verlag, 2009. pp. 78-88, fig. 39, 40, 41.