Head of King David

Date: ca. 1145

Geography: Made in Paris

Culture: French

Medium: Limestone, light fine-grained

Dimensions: 11 11/16 × 8 5/16 × 8 3/8 in. (29.7 × 21.1 × 21.3 cm)
Other (weight): 33 lb. (15 kg)

Classification: Sculpture-Stone

Credit Line: Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1938

Accession Number: 38.180


During the French Revolution, Old Testament kings decorating the portals of the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris were decapitated and presumably destroyed, as it was thought at the time that they represented the ancient rulers of France. Until recently, this head of King David was the only surviving head from this rich decorative program. Carved of a fine-grained limestone from the area, the highly expressive face of King David was originally even more emphatic, with his eyes intended to be inlaid with lead. The head comes from the south portal of the west facade dedicated to the life of Saint Anne, the Infancy of Christ, and his genealogy. Although carved around the middle of the twelfth century, the portal was not installed until the early years of the thirteenth century.