Saint Francis of Assisi

17th century
probably Goan
Figure: ivory, with hair, beard and cord painted brown; base: wood
Height: 25 in. (63.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1916
Accession Number:
Not on view
In a work on this scale the sculptor had to incorporate the curve of the tusk into the composition. Here, the main figure is carved in one piece, but the tusk was not broad enough to carve the arms as well so they were attached separately; time has exposed the joins. The ivory surrounding the hollow lower portion of the figure is quite thin where the elephant's dental nerve once ran, and parts of the fragile surface have broken off. The Caucasian features of this Saint Francis have made its attribution uncertain, but the quality of the ivory suggests an Indian or Sri Lankan origin.
Signature: Monogram on front of base
Georges Hoentschel ; J. Pierpont Morgan , London and New York (until 1916; to MMA)