Lot 3003
  • 3003

A LIMESTONE HEAD OF A BISHOP WITH AN ORNATE MITRE BURGUNDY, FRANCE, LATE 15TH CENTURY |

Estimate
140,000 - 180,000 HKD
Sold
bidding is closed

Description

  • 30 by 19 by 19.5 cm, 11 3/4  by 7 1/2  by 7 5/8  in.
the face sunken and clean shaven with a stern expression, the eyelids half closed, above deeply modelled cheekbones and chin, all surmounted by a large ornate mitre, intricately carved and once polychromed to imitate silk, pearls, gold and precious stones, arranged as embellished roundels and diamonds, flanking a thick vertical band in the centre, outlined on either side by pearl-like roundels, the top edges of the mitre similarly decorated, the reverse unfinished

Provenance

A French private collection.
Acquired in Paris.

Catalogue Note

The large mitre and its elaborate decoration indicate the high status of this bishop saint, which would have once probably stood in a niche on the interior or exterior of a church. Nevertheless, it is almost impossible to identify the saint without any other attributes. Stylistically, the sculpture is typical of late 15th century Burgundian figures of bishops, such as the figure of Saint Denis from Mountiers Saint-Jean. Although this figure is a cephalophore (a martyred saint who carries his head), the deeply sunken cheeks, physiognomy and elaborate mitre bear a striking resemblance to this saintly bishop. The shape and decoration of the mitre can also be compared to two further figures of Burgundian saintly bishops – from Eguilly and Auxerre. The latter figure, which retains its polychromy, enables us to imagine the way that the present statue would have once looked like when it was still painted (The Metropolitan Museum, accession no. 47.101.18). For more information, see Pierre Quarre, Burgundian Sculpture of the Late Middle Ages, Fribourg, 1978. Despite being separated from its original context and suffering some damage along the centuries, this head of a bishop possesses a great amount of power in its authoritative expression and in the idealised realism of its physiognomy.

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