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Unidentified Artist, Female Figure (c. 1125)

For Artwork in Focus we explore individual artworks, critiquing their style and discussing their socio-political context. Today we look at Female Figure (c. 1125) by an Unidentified Artist.

About the Work

Title : Female Figure
Artist : Unidentified Artist
Year : c. 1125
Medium : Wood with traces of polychrome and gesso
Dimensions : 145.1 x 35.6 x 30.2 cm (57 1/8 x 14 x 11 7/8 in.)
Location : Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Patronage & the Catholic Church

This sculpture was found in the early 20th century at the church of Santa Maria de Taül in Spain, behind the church’s altar.

According to the digital archive of the Harvard Art Museums :

“It may have been part of a sculptural group representing the Three Marys, pious women said to have been present at the crucifixion of Jesus. Traces of paint on the sculpture indicate that it was once brightly colored. Its large headdress is typical of 12th- century Catalonian art, particularly as seen in wall paintings found at the nearby church of Sant Climent.”

The piece went from Henry Daguerre to A. Kann. It was Edward Forbes who brought it to the Fogg Museum at Harvard.

As was common for the Middle Ages, this sculpture was probably commissioned by the church itself. The Catholic church as an institution was a big patron of the arts in this era. Therefore, artworks, artifacts and paintings with biblical references were common, as they were a means for artists to earn money.

Other Details

Unidentified Artist’s Female Figure is housed in the Harvard Art Museums in Room 2440. It is part of the museum’s collection of Medieval Art.

To learn more about iconic artworks and their socio-political context, visit Artwork in Focus.

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