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Wooden sculpture of a woman with a large headpiece

A woman stands on a small pedestal, gesturing with her right hand, her palm outward and her fingers pointing up. Her left hand is not included in the sculpture. Her face features a prominent brow and eyes with a slightly upturned mouth and a nose that appears to be worn down. On her head is a large, round, halo-like headpiece with textured detail where it meets her face. She wears a long robe and a collar. The wood is a tawny brown, well worn with visible seams and many patches of dark paint.

Gallery Text

This figure was found behind the altar of the church of Santa Maria de Taüll in Catalonia, Spain, in 1907; the original context and subject of the sculpture remain unknown. It may have been part of a sculptural group representing the Three Marys, pious women said to have been present at the crucifixion of Jesus. Traces of paint on the sculpture indicate that it was once brightly colored. Its large headdress is typical of 12th- century Catalonian art, particularly as seen in wall paintings found at the nearby church of Sant Climent. This region, in the northeast of Spain, was rich in religious orders that supported the visual arts. The sculpture was once owned by Alphonse Kann, a great early 20th-century French collector of medieval objects.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Unidentified Artist
Female Figure
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Female Saint (Mary Magdalene?)
Alternate Title: The Virgin / Statue of the Virgin from Santa Maria de Taüll, Catalonia
Work Type
c. 1125
Creation Place: Europe, Spain, Taüll
Persistent Link


Level 2, Room 2440, Medieval Art
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Physical Descriptions

Wood with traces of polychrome and gesso
145.1 x 35.6 x 30.2 cm (57 1/8 x 14 x 11 7/8 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
Henry Daguerre, Paris. A. Kann. [Arnold Seligman, Rey & Co., Inc., New York, NY, sold;] to Edward Forbes for the Fogg Art Museum, 1925

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Friends of the Fogg Art Museum Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Publication History

  • Arthur Kingsley Porter, Spanish Romanesque Sculpture, Pegasus Press and Pantheon Books (Paris, France and Florence, Italy, 1928), vol. II, pp. 13, 14, 17, 18, pl. 67, 71A
  • Enciclopedia Universal Ilustrada, Espasa-Calpe (Madrid, 1930), p. 473, repr.
  • Arthur Kingsley Porter, Fogg Museum Notes (June 1931), II, no. 6, 246-272
  • Fogg Art Museum Handbook, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1931), p. 24, repr.
  • Arthur Kingsley Porter, "La Verge de Tahull", Butletti dels Museus d'Art de Barcelona (1932), II, 120ff.
  • [Reproduction only], "New Books: Nocions d'arqueologia sagrada Catalana", Parnassus, (January 1932)., p. 32, repr.
  • [Reproduction only], "Virgin from Deposition Group of San Clemente (?) de Tahull", Parnassus, (January 1932)., p. 32, repr.
  • Alfred William Clapham, Romanesque Architecture in Western Europe, The Clarendon Press (Oxford, England, 1936), p. 134, repr. (top portion), plate 32a
  • Walter William Spencer Cook and Jose Gudiol Ricart, Pintura e Imagineria Romanicas, Editorial Plus-Ultra (Madrid, 1950), pp. 322ff
  • New York University Institute of Fine Arts Alumni Association, Spanish Medieval Art, exh. cat. (New York, NY, 1954), cat. no. 33
  • J. Ainaud, "La sculpture polychrome catalane", L'oeil (1955), no. 4, pp. 33-39
  • Direccion General de Relaciones Culturales, L'art roman, exh. cat. (Barcelona, 1961), p. 183
  • Edward Waldo Forbes, Yankee Visionary, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1971), p. 4
  • Linda Seidel, "Romanesque Sculpture in American Collections: X: The Fogg Art Museum: III: Spain, Italy, the Low Countries, and Addenda", GESTA (1973), vol. XII, no. 1/2, p. 133, fig. 1
  • Robert P. Bergman, "Varieties of Romanesque Sculpture", Apollo (May 1978), 107, p. 18, 21-22; repr. as fig. 6
  • Walter Cahn and Linda Seidel, Romanesque Sculpture in American Collections, volume 1: New England Museums, Burt Franklin & Co., Inc. (New York, NY, 1979), pp. 196-199; fig. 210, cat. no. 51
  • Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), no. 141, p. 124, repr.
  • The Art of Medieval Spain a.d. 500-1200, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY, 1993), p. 318; cat. no. 165
  • James Cuno, Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Ivan Gaskell, and William W. Robinson, Harvard's Art Museums: 100 Years of Collecting, ed. James Cuno, Harvard University Art Museums and Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (Cambridge, MA, 1996), p. 163, repr.
  • Elizabeth Bradford Smith, Medieval Art in America: Patterns of Collecting 1800-1940, exh. cat., Palmer Museum of Art (University Park, PA, 1996), p. 178
  • Joseph Goering, "The Virgin and the Grail: A Forgotten Twelfth-Century Cult", Saints and the Sacred: Proceedings of a St. Michael's College Symposium 25-26 February 2000, ed. Joseph Goering, Francesco Guardiani, and Giulio Silano, Legas (New York and Ottawa, 2001), pp. 163-184; p. 181 as fig. 4, repr., p. 182 as fig. 5 (detail)
  • Xavier Dectot, "Vierge ou Sainte Femme? La place d'une exceptionnelle acquisition du musee national du Moyen Age dans la scupture catalane du XIIe siecle", La revue du Louvre et des Musees de France (2003), no. 3, pp. 44, 48-49; p. 46, figs. 3 and 4
  • Kathryn Brush, "Arthur Kingsley Porter, le Fogg Art Museum et la sculpture romane espagnole", Catalogne Romane: Sculptures du Val de Boí, Réunion des Musées Nationaux (Paris, France, 2004), pp. 42 - 53, p. 43-53. p. 48, repr. in fig. 24 with others from Taüll group
  • Christian Brosio, "Les Ateliers Romans du Val de Boí", Le Spectacle du Monde (September 2004), repr.
  • Jordi Camps i Soria and Xavier Dectot, Catalogne Romane: Sculptures du Val de Boí, exh. cat., Réunion des Musées Nationaux (Paris, France, 2004), p. 88-89, repr. as cat. no. 4
  • Amanda Mars, "Los Misterios del Románico en 15 Tallas", La Gaceta de Los Negocios (January 2005), detail repr.
  • Joseph Goering, The Virgin and the Grail, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT, and London, 2005), pp. 107-111, repr. as fig. 6 and fig. 7 (detail)

Exhibition History

  • Spanish Medieval Art, The Cloisters, New York, 12/15/1954 - 01/30/1955
  • 12th Century Catalan sculpture. The Valley of Boi Workshop, Musée National du Moyen Age, Paris, 09/14/2004 - 01/03/2005
  • 32Q: 2440 Medieval, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/12/2017 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

Verification Level

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