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Saint Paul

Circle of Claus de Werve | Saint Paul | 22.31.1 

Circle of Claus de Werve (Netherlandish, active in France, ca. 1380–1439, active Burgundy, 1396–1439). Saint Paul, 1420–30. Limestone with traces of paint. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Mrs. Stephen V. Harkness Fund, 1922 (22.31.1).

According to medieval artistic conventions, Saint Paul is traditionally identified by his bald head and long beard, a sword, the instrument of his martyrdom, and a book, representing his writings. While working within a specified tradition, this Burgundian sculptor invested his carved Saint Paul with exceptional vitality and intelligence. Paul's left knee pushes against the fabric of his robe, suggesting a relaxed, but attentive posture. His inclined head and furrowed brow project a sense of resolute determination and quiet solemnity. These qualities were especially important for a statue that presided over a private chapel, where the saint served as a heavenly advocate for the de Plaine family.

"The drapery stands in as an expression of the body."

—Peter Barnet, curator

"The slight tilting of his head helps to create a kind of living presence."

—Griffith Mann, curator

"I tried to reflect in the music that you're being blessed in the presence of this father-like figure."

—Joan Jeanrenaud, cellist and composer

All voices: Will Crow, educator; Peter Barnet, curator; Griffith Mann, curator; Joan Jeanrenaud, cellist and composer

Transcript: The Hidden Body Speaks (Video)