Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Pietà (Vesperbild)

ca. 1400
Limestone with polychrome highlight
15 x 15 3/8 x 5 1/2 in. (38.1 x 39.1 x 14.0 cm)
Credit Line:
The Cloisters Collection, 2001
Accession Number:
Not on view
Created as an object of private devotion, this group is a strikingly pure expression of the Schöne Stil, or Beautiful Style, which emerged at the imperial court in Prague at the end of the fourteenth century and resonated across Europe. The broken, emaciated body of Jesus, naked except for a loincloth, offers a stark contrast to the young face and full figure of his mother as she gently grasps his wrists and cradles his body. The blending of sensuality and pain gives this sculpture immediate emotional appeal. With regal elegance and a tender face, this image of the Virgin constituted the upper portion of a standing or enthroned figure, which would have been accompanied by the child Jesus. Artists working in clay would normally divide a large sculpture horizontally with a wire before firing to ensure that it would dry evenly. The sections would then be reassembled with mortar disguised under the paint. This is the only terracotta sculpture attributed to medieval Prague.
Christoph Eitle, Munich (sold 2001)
"A Selection of 2001 Museum Acquisitions." Apollo 145, no. 478 (December 2001). p. 28.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection, 2000-2001." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 59, no. 2 (Fall 2001). p. 20.

Barnet, Peter, and Nancy Y. Wu. The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005. no. 78, pp. 113, 197.

Boehm, Barbara Drake, and Jiri Fajt, ed. Prague: The Crown of Bohemia, 1347–1437. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005. no. 112, pp. 264–65.

Fajt, Jiri, and Barbara Drake Boehm, ed. Karl IV., Kaiser von Gottes Gnaden: Kunst und Repräsentation des Hauses Luxemburg 1310-1437. Munich: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2006. no. 145, pp. 450–52.

Barnet, Peter. "Recent Acquisitions (1999-2008) of Medieval Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cloisters, New York: Supplement." The Burlington Magazine 150, no. 1268 (November 2008). p. 800, fig. XXIII.

Barnet, Peter. "Medieval Europe." In Philippe de Montebello and The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1977–2008, edited by James R. Houghton. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009. p. 24.

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. 119.

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