Netherlands, North Brabant
Limestone, traces of wood; 9 9/16 x 10 1/2 x 9 1/8 in. (24.3 x 26.7 x 23.2 cm)
Purchase, Rogers Fund; Gifts of J. Pierpont Morgan, George Blumenthal, and Messrs. 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 (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. 1360before 1406) and Niclaus Gerhaert von Leiden (active 146073?) 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.