Head of Christ


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 306

Piety in the late Middle Ages encouraged the believer's intense emotional empathy in the suffering of Christ. Here, stone is transformed into flesh by the actual wood thorns piercing the forehead. The capacity for sculptural naturalism developed in Burgundy by Claus Sluter (ca. 1360–before 1406) and Niclaus Gerhaert von Leiden (active 1460–73?) here endows the noble face of the dead Christ with an uncanny intensity. The head was part of a devotional group, either a Pietà or an Entombment of Christ.

Head of Christ, Limestone, traces of wood thorns, Netherlandish

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