Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Limestone Head of Joseph

ca. 1230
Limestone with traces of polychromy
Overall: 6 3/4 x 5 5/16 x 4 1/16 in. (17.1 x 13.5 x 10.3 cm) ht with block: 10 1/4 in. (26.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Scher Chemicals Inc. and Audrey Love Charitable Foundation Gifts; Anonymous Gift, in honor of Charles T. Little; William and Toni Conte and Stephen K. Scher Gifts; and funds from various donors, 2007
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 304
This engaging head can be linked to the decoration of the celebrated choir screen of the cathedral at Chartres. The stone screen, erected about 1230 and dismantled in 1763, originally stood at the choir entrance, separating the clergy from the congregation. It was decorated with narrative scenes of the early life of Jesus. This head belongs to the figure of Joseph, the carpenter and spouse of Mary, in the Nativity relief. The photomontage below illustrates its original placement, with Joseph leaning forward to offer a cloth to the resting Mary. Because the cathedral possessed the relic of the Virgin’s tunic, narrative reliefs on the choir screen were devoted to her life.
From Chartres Cathedral; [ Mathias Komor, New York (until about 1980)]; Victor and Frances Leventritt, New York (until 2005); [ Salander-O'Reilly Galleries(2005-?)]; [ Ward & Company Works of Art(until 2007)]
Little, Charles T., and Clark Maines. "Introduction: Contemporary Encounters with the Medieval Face." Gesta 46, no. 2 (2007). p. 84, fig. 3.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection, 2006-2007." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 65, no. 2 (Fall 2007). p. 12.

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. 796, fig. XI.

Little, Charles T. "'Joseph at Chartres: Sculpture Lost and Found,' Architecture and Glass III: In Memory of Anne Prache." AVISTA Forum Journal 20, no. 1 (Fall 2010). pp. 72-73, fig. 1-2.

Le Pogam, Pierre-Yves. "Die Lettner der ersten Hälfte des 13. Jahrhunderts in Frankreich." In Der Naumburger Meister: Bildhauer und Architekt im Europa der Kathedralen, edited by Guido Siebert. Vol. 2. Petersberg: Michael Imhof, 2011. p. 1212, fig. 2.

Jung, Jacqueline E. The Gothic Screen: Space, Sculpture, and Community in the Cathedrals of France and Germany, ca. 1200-1400. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. p. 117.

Little, Charles T. "Joseph at Chartres: Sculpture Lost and Found." In Arts of the Medieval Cathedrals: Studies on Architecture, Stained Glass and Sculpture in Honor of Anne Prache, edited by Kathleen Nolan, and Dany Sandron. AVISTA Studies in the History of Medieval Technology, Science and Art, Vol. 9. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 2015. pp. 176-96, fig. 11.1, 11.2, 11.7, pl. 28.

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