German or South Netherlandish
Alabaster; H. 9 7/16 in. (24 cm)
The Cloisters Collection, 1995 (1995.412)
A refined and spirited sculpture, this figure of John the Baptist is a particularly accomplished example of alabaster carving of the first half of the fifteenth century, possibly from the Middle Rhineland. With its soft, limpid drapery patterns, the gentle sway of its stance, and the lyrical play of its volumes, this statuette appears to reflect the influence of manuscript painting. The original context of the figure is uncertain, but the rather flattened appearance of the proper left side suggests that it was placed against another component of a larger ensemble. The saint's attribute, a book or a lamb, or both, once held in his right hand, is now missing.