Christ in the House of Simon
German, ca. 1485–1555
Christ in the House of Simon, ca. 1515-1525
Oak with polychromy and gilding
57.8 x 62.2 x 12.4 cm (22 3/4 x 24 1/2 x 4 7/8 inches)
Helen M. Danforth Acquisition Fund 49.067
This painted relief sculpture was one of four highly-colored narrative segments designed for an altarpiece in the Church of Saint Michael in Lendersdorf, Germany. They flanked a similarly carved central panel depicting the church’s patron, the Archangel Michael. Based on the Gospel of Luke, the Museum’s Christ in the House of Simon shows Mary Magdalene washing and anointing the feet of Christ then drying them with her hair. Dreyer’s realistic style presents an event both poignant and homely. Christ receives Mary Magdalene’s reverence, while his well-dressed hosts preside over a dinner table. The Pharisee Simon cleans his teeth, his wife folds her hands in respect, and a bald man leans over to marvel at the Magdalene’s humble gesture.