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- Author Biecz workshop
- Date of production 15th/16th century?
- Dimensions height: 38 cm, width: 26 cm
- ID no. AH/1287
- Object copyright Museum of Ziemia Biecka in Biecz
- Digital images copyright public domain
- Digitalisation RDW MIC, Małopolska’s Virtual Museums project
The herm is a name for reliquaries taking anthropomorphic forms, especially busts with a place at the front called a reservaculum , where the relic was placed. The presented object depicts an unidentified saint.more
The herm is a name for reliquaries taking anthropomorphic forms, especially busts with a place at the front called a reservaculum , where the relic was placed.
The presented object depicts an unidentified saint. This is a bust of a man shown en face. His face is very expressive, long and slim with the softly carved features of an old man with highlighted cheekbones. His large eyes with deepened corners are clearly cut off with a strongly prominent line of frowned, oblique brow ridges. The nose is straight, tapering at the base. The upper lip is obscured by a moustache while the lower one is prominent. The face is framed by a long, forked beard falling on the chest, wavy in the upper part with flowing and symmetrical tresses at the end. Mid-length hair falling on the shoulders and back, textured in symmetrical waves, and curled into thickly carved curls near his face. The man’s shoulders are covered with a smooth coat with a trimming, which has the remains of a rosette at the fastening point on the chest used as a reservaculum for the relic.
The stylistic features of the sculpture, including the particularly characteristic way of sculpting the face and hair, means that it may be assigned to a group of Małopolska’s sculptures made in the workshop of an anonymous Master who created works in the Upper Rhine-Munich style. The sculptures attributed to him so far include the enthroned figure of St. James (National Museum in Kraków), two sculptures of apostles from Jerzmanowice (currently in Saint Mary’s Basilica in Kraków) and perhaps the figure of St. Christopher from the church in Iwanowice. All these works, probably created in the same workshop, can be dated back to as early as c. 1500, although they were more likely created at the beginning of the 16th century.
The figure of St. James, whose features are closest to the discussed herm, was found in a chapel near Biecz, but it is presumed that it comes from a parish church in Biecz. Thus, the identified activities of the anonymous Master in this area may also confirm this attribution.
The discussed gothic herm is characterized by an extremely soft modelling of the face with a strong emotional charge, which points to the master’s skilful hand. Unfortunately, it has been poorly preserved. It has a wide crack at the front which runs through almost the entire sculpture. At the same time, the bottom is partially broken, so that only half of the reservaculum remains. Some remnants of mortar are visible on the sculpture, which proves that it used to be entirely polychromous in the past.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.
Walanus Wojciech, Późnogotycka rzeźba drewniana w Małopolsce 1490-1540, Kraków 2006.