Relief with Group of Faces, France, c. 1200 – 1220

Relief with Group of Faces

Relief with Group of Faces

France, c. 1200 – 1220


30 cm; 11⅘ in.
17 cm; 6⅔ in.
17.5 cm; 6⅘ in.


Private collection, France
Privte collection, Belgium

This beautiful limestone fragment, carved in the first quarter of the 13th century, shows a group of faces, two clearly discernible, the ear of a third figure close to the right eye of the upper face, his chin resting on top of the head of the lower figure. Drawing inspiration from Roman art, the early medieval carver's treatment of the eyes can be seen to differ from that of his classical counterparts. Similarities with the present work can be seen in the poorly preserved portals in the cathedral Notre-Dame de Laon and in the Abbatiale Saint-Yved de Braine, Aisne, which date from c. 1210 – 1220, and with the tympanum (the semi-circular or triangular decorative wall surface over the entrance bounded by a lintel and an arch) in the Abbaye de Fleury in Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire, dating to c. 1200, especially to the group of monks on the right side. Our relief may have been part of a tympanum, possibly in a group depicting the Judgment. 

In an excellent state of preservation, this timeless object is presented with a museum quality stand. Displayed with the stand or hanging directly on a wall from a height allowing a raised view, the serene faces gaze downwards, complementing perfectly both a classical and contemporary interior space.

SOLD: Private collection, United Kingdom