Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Reliquary Bust of a Female Saint

ca. 1520–30
Made in possibly Brussels, Belgium
South Netherlandish
Oak, paint, gilt
Overall: 16 11/16 x 12 3/4 x 6 1/4 in. (42.4 x 32.4 x 15.9 cm)
Credit Line:
The Cloisters Collection, 1959
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Cloisters in Gallery 16
Bust reliquaries for the skulls of saints were placed on or near altars and, by the late Middle Ages, often assembled in large numbers in church sanctuaries. The small glazed medallion resembling jewelry once displayed additional relics. On particular feast days, such reliquaries were carried in processions.
[ Henry Hirsch, London (Sale, Christies, June 10-11, 1931)] ; [ Henri Heilbronner, Lucerne (sold 1959)]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Eighty-Ninth Annual Report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year 1958-1959." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 18, no. 2 (October 1959). p. 58.

"Chronache: New York." Emporium 136 (1962). pp. 121-22.

Rorimer, James J. The Cloisters: The Building and the Collection of Medieval Art in Fort Tryon Park. 3rd revised ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1963. p. 184, fig. 91.

Krohm, Hartmut. Spätmittelalterliche Bildwerke aus Brabant: Figuren heiliger Frauen von einer Grablegung Christi. Berlin: Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz, 1976. pp. 32-33.

Hair: Cooper-Hewitt Museum, the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Design, June 10 to August 17, 1980. Washington, DC: Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution, 1980. p. 10.

Wixom, William D. "Medieval Sculpture at The Cloisters." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 46, no. 3 (Winter 1988-1989). p. 41.

Boehm, Barbara Drake. "Body-Part Reliquaries: The State of Research." Gesta 36, no. 1 (1997). p. 11.

Little, Charles T., ed. Set in Stone: The Face in Medieval Sculpture. New York, New Haven, and London: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2006. p. 190.

Bagnoli, Martina, Holger A. Klein, C. Griffith Mann, and James Robinson, ed. Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics, and Devotion in Medieval Europe. Cleveland, Baltimore, and London: Cleveland Museum of Art, 2010. no. 108, p. 195.

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