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Art & Design

English, St. James the Great, ca.1400 - 1500, Museum Appropriation Fund

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gallery location RA518.European9

St. James the Great

Unknown artist, English
St. James the Great, ca.1400 - 1500
Height: 24.1 cm (9 1/2 inches)
Museum Appropriation Fund 25.144

According to legend, the bones of Christ’s apostle, Saint James (Santiago), were transported from Jerusalem and buried in the Spanish town of Compostela. By the 11th century the site of his relics had become an important pilgrimage destination for Christians seeking remission of punishment for sins. Saint James is depicted here in the costume of a pilgrim, wearing a wide-brimmed felt hat adorned with a seashell that symbolized the completion of the journey to Compostela. His finely carved and painted head is a fragment of a larger sculpture that may have been broken by iconoclasts, reformers who considered images of Christ and the saints to be forms of idol worship and banned them from churches

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