© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

This sculpture of a knight is a rare surviving example of a wooden tomb effigy, or gisant. Carved from a single plank of wood and now missing most of its polychromy, this work likely formed the lid of a sarcophagus in the region of Burgos, Spain. The figure’s identity is unknown, but the cylindrical cap, tunic with deep arm-holes, and ankle spurs distinguish him as a member of the late thirteenth-century Spanish aristocracy. Traces of paint on the man’s cheeks indicate that light stubble tempered his youthful appearance. The fingers missing from his right hand probably held the chest-strap of his mantle, a delicate gesture that would suggest repose, rather than eternal rest. The dog curled up at his feet is a symbol of fidelity beyond the grave. While the man’s position obeys the lid’s horizontal orientation, the fall of his cloak curiously implies an upright pose.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
1936.11
People
Unidentified Artist
Title
Recumbent Effigy
Other Titles
Former Title: Sepulchral Monument of Don Diego Garcia
Original Language Title: Estatua de caballero
Classification
Sculpture
Work Type
sculpture
Date
13th century
Culture
Spanish
Location
Level 2, Room 2500, European Art, 13th–16th century, Art and Image in Europe
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Physical Descriptions
Medium
Wood with traces of polychromy
Dimensions
40 x 253 x 81 cm (15 3/4 x 99 5/8 x 31 7/8 in.)
Provenance
Convent of Villamayor de los Montes. Diocesan Museum of Burgos, circa 1921. [Arnold Seligman, Rey & Co., New York], sold; to Fogg Art Museum, 1936
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Alpheus Hyatt Purchasing Fund in memory of Professor Arthur Kingsley Porter
Accession Year
1936
Object Number
1936.11
Division
European and American Art
Contact
am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu
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Publication History

Juan Antonio Cortés, Domingo Hergueta, Luciano Huidobro, and Matías Martínez Burgos, Catálogo General de la Exposición de Arte Retrospectivo: VII Centernario de la Catedral de Burgos - 1921, exh. cat., Imprenta Aldecoa (Burgos, 1926), p. 14, cat. no. 1169, repr. as L.A.M. I and III

"Spanish Gothic Statue for the Fogg Museum", Harvard Alumni Bulletin (April 24, 1936), repr.

"The Tomb of Don Diego Garcia: A Masterpiece of Spanish Gothic Sculpture", The Art News (April 11, 1936), p. 6, repr.

Frederick B. Deknatel, "A Spanish Sculpture of the Thirteenth Century", Bulletin of the Fogg Art Museum (March 1937), Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 34-38, pp. 34-38, repr. p. 35 as fig. I, p. 37 as fig. 3, and p. 38 as fig. 4

Arts of the Middle Ages, exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Boston, MA, 1940), no. 179, detail repr. in b/w as pl. 179

"Gothic Sculpture in American Collections: The Checklist: I: The New England Museums", GESTA, ed. Dorothy W. Gillerman (1980), vol. XIX, no. 2, no. 10, repr.

Anita F. Moskowitz, Gothic Sculpture in America, I: The New England Museums, ed. Dorothy W. Gillerman, Garland Publishing, Inc. (New York, 1989), no. 139 pp. 174-175, repr.

Paul Williamson, [Review of "Gothic Sculpture in New England I"], The Burlington Magazine (June 1990), vol. CXXXII, no. 1047, pp. 418-419, p. 418, under no. 139

Elizabeth Bradford Smith, Medieval Art in America: Patterns of Collecting 1800-1940, exh. cat., Palmer Museum of Art (University Park, PA, 1996), p. 180

Exhibition History

Exposición de Arte Retrospectivo: VII Centenario de la Catedral de Burgos, Unknown Venue, 01/01/1921 - 12/31/1921

Arts of the Middle Ages, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, 02/17/1940 - 03/24/1940

32Q: 2500 Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu