Head of a Grotesque

Date: ca. 1200–1220

Geography: Made in Champagne, France

Culture: French

Medium: Limestone

Dimensions: Overall: 14 x 11 3/4 x 13 3/4 in. (35.6 x 29.8 x 34.9 cm)
82lb. (37.2kg)

Classification: Sculpture-Architectural

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1913

Accession Number: 13.152.2


The comical effect of the muttonchop whiskers, bulbous nose, enormous eyes, and open mouth of this grotesque head demonstrates the extreme expressions found in marginal sculpture. The head resembles others on corbels supporting the roof cornice of one of the principal churches in Châlons-sur-Marne. The bold features, part of a visual language specific to medieval buildings, are meant to be seen from a distance. Recent research suggests that such bizarre heads may have been intended to ward off evil.