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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Head of Christ

late 15th–early 16th century
Made in North Brabant, The Netherlands
Limestone, traces of wood thorns
Overall: 9 9/16 x 10 1/2 x 9 1/8in. (24.3 x 26.7 x 23.2cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Rogers Fund; Gifts of J. Pierpont Morgan, George Blumenthal and Duveen Brothers, by exchange; Bequests of George Blumenthal, Michael Dreicer, Theodore M. Davis and Anne D. Thomson, by exchange; and Mr. and Mrs. Maxime L. Hermanos Gift, 1983
Accession Number:
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.
Schlichte Bergen, Amsterdam; Private Collection, Brabant, Belgium; [ Julius Böhler Kunsthandlung, Munich (sold 1983)]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Notable Acquisitions, 1983-1984 (Metropolitan Museum of Art) (1984). p. 16.

Parker, Elizabeth C. "Recent Major Acquisitions of Medieval Art by American Museums." Gesta 24, no. 4 (1985). p. 172, fig. 16.

Wixom, William D., ed. Mirror of the Medieval World. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999. no. 246, pp. 203–204.

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. 37, pp. 98-99.

Wixom, William D. "Late Medieval Sculpture in the Metropolitan: 1400 to 1530." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 64, no. 4 (Spring 2007). p. 28.

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