Head of an Apostle

Date: ca. 1280–1300

Geography: Made in probably Strasbourg, Alsace, present-day France

Culture: German

Medium: Sandstone

Dimensions: 11 13/16 × 10 1/8 × 9 3/4 in. (30 × 25.7 × 24.8 cm)

Classification: Sculpture-Stone

Credit Line: The Cloisters Collection, 2004

Accession Number: 2004.453


The distinctive red sandstone suggests an origin in the Upper Rhineland, probably Strasbourg. The city suffered during the religious wars of the sixteenth century as well as during and after the French Revolution. No documentation survives to pinpoint this head's original location. The head, broken off at the neck, was probably part of a column statue; its condition suggests that it was protected from the elements, either indoors or in a sheltered exterior spot. With its furrowed brow, thick deeply carved ringlets, and parted lips revealing teeth, the head is similar to late thirteenth-century sculptures from the central portal of Strasbourg Cathedral's west facade.