View 1 of Lot 6. IRISH, CIRCA 11TH CENTURY | HEAD OF A BISHOP SAINT.
View 1 of Lot 6. IRISH, CIRCA 11TH CENTURY | HEAD OF A BISHOP SAINT.
6

IRISH, CIRCA 11TH CENTURY | HEAD OF A BISHOP SAINT

Estimate:

20,000 - 30,000 GBP

IRISH, CIRCA 11TH CENTURY | HEAD OF A BISHOP SAINT

IRISH, CIRCA 11TH CENTURY | HEAD OF A BISHOP SAINT

Estimate:

20,000 - 30,000 GBP

Lot sold:

37,500

GBP

IRISH, CIRCA 11TH CENTURY

HEAD OF A BISHOP SAINT


basalt, on a modern metal mount

head: 29cm., 11⅜in.

31cm., 12¼in. overall

Sotheby's London, 20 April 1989, lot 15

Romano collection, Florence, until sold Pandolfini, Florence, 19 October 2016, lot 113

When this rare early Irish carving was sold at Sotheby's in 1989 it was described as 12th/ 13th century. The head is distinguished by the characteristic Irish Crozier to the proper left side of the Bishop's face. Such Croziers have traditionally been associated with the 11th century, but, in 1941, Raftery, in the second volume of Christian Art in Ancient Ireland, concluded that the 11th century was a period of possible reburial of Croziers, and that metal Croziers were known in Ireland as early as the 9th century. The crook on the present sculpture takes the characteristic form best known in the famous (and more elaborate) Lismore Crozier (circa 1100; National Museum of Ireland, inv. no. NMI L1949:1). A number of other Croziers of this form exist, dating from the 9th through to the 13th centuries, and include the famous Prosperous Crozier, which is one of the earliest and is believed to date to the 9th or 10th century (see Bourke and Hook, op. cit., p. 133). The face of the present bishop with his 'worried' expression is closest to Romanesque sculpture seen in England in the 10th/ 11th century. This, together with the characteristic Irish Crozier, justifies a dating to around the 11th century for this evocative relic of early Irish art.


RELATED LITERATURE

J. Raftery, Christian Art in Ancient Ireland, Dublin, 1941; J. Hunt, Irish Medieval Figure Sculpture, Dublin and London, 1974; C. Bourke and D. Hook, 'The Prosperous, Co. Kildare, Crozier: archaeology and use,' Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy: Archaeology, Culture, History, Literature, vol. 117C, 2017, pp. 133-181