Date: late 15th–early 16th century
Geography: Made in North Brabant, The Netherlands
Medium: Limestone, traces of wood thorns
Dimensions: 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: 1983.406
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.