The enigmatic smile and lyrical treatment of the hair distinguish this angelic head as an outstanding example of mid-thirteenth-century Parisian sculpture. Several stylistic and technical aspects, such as the type of limestone, link this work with sculpture made for the cathedral of Notre-Dame, Paris. The absence of weathering suggests the head was originally part of an interior setting, yet its exact origin and function remain unknown.
From Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris (?); [ Joseph Altounian, Maçon (sold 1923)] ; [ Brummer Gallery, Paris and New York (1923–sold 1929, to Bing)] ; Alexander M. Bing, New York (1929–sold 1944, to Brummer) ; [ Brummer Gallery, Paris and New York (1944–sold 1949)] ; [Joseph Brummer Collection sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York (April 20-23, 1949, no. 739)] ; Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA ; [ Sotheby's, New York(May 31, 1990, lot 20)]
The Notable Art Collection belonging to the Estate of the Late Joseph Brummer. New York: Parke-Bernet Galleries, April 20–23, 1949. no. 739, p. 203.
Clark, William W., and Charles T. Little. "Notable Recent Acquisitions, Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Cloisters, New York." Gesta 29. no. 2 (1990). p. 240, fig. 8.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection, 1990-1991." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 49, no. 2 (Fall 1991). p. 16.
Little, Charles T. "Searching for the Provenances of Medieval Stone Sculpture: Possibilities and Limitations." Gesta 33, no. 1 (1994). p. 31, fig. 7.
Meredith, Jill. "Romancing the Stone: Resolving some Provenance Mysteries of the Brummer Collection at Duke University." Gesta 33, no. 1 (1994). p. 39.
Sandron, Dany. "Premiers résultats d'une programme franco-américaine d'analyses pétrographiques." Bulletin Monumental 153, no. 2 (1995). p. 196.
Wixom, William D., ed. Mirror of the Medieval World. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999. no. 126, pp. 104–105.
Barnet, Peter, and Nancy Y. Wu. The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005. no. 44, pp. 79, 195.
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. 17, pp. 56-57.
Brilliant, Richard. "Faces Demanding Attention." Gesta 46, no. 2 (2007). p. 97, fig. 10, ill. pl. 3 (across from p. 119).
Little, Charles T., and Clark Maines. "Introduction: Contemporary Encounters with the Medieval Face." Gesta 46, no. 2 (2007). p. 84, pl. 3.
Barnet, Peter, and Nancy Y. Wu. The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture. 75th Anniversary ed. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. p. 77.
Brennan, Christine E. "The Brummer Gallery and the Business of Art." Journal of the History of Collections 27, no. 3 (November 2015). p. 467 n. 61.