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Head of an Apostle




Head of an Apostle


3rd quarter of 12th c.


Limestone, traces of polychrome


23.2 x 14.8 x 16 cm


Purchase, Annie White Townsend Fund, inv. 1950.51.Dv.10


Western Art

Dating to the late Romanesque period, when figures were becoming more naturalistically sculpted, this Head of an Apostle is notable for its sensitive modelling of the cheekbones and lips. While the hair is carved in the usual manner of parallel incisions, the plaiting is rendered with a certain elegance. A comparison of this head with the earlier Romanesque crucifix exhibited here illustrates the evolution toward a more naturalistic style. The traces of black pigment in the drilled eyes indicate that the face was originally painted. The flat, unsculpted back of the head suggests that it was placed against a vertical architectural element such as a column. Nothing about the piece foreshadows the spatial independence and sense of individualized movement found in early Gothic sculpture at the end of the century.

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