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Past Exhibition

Kneeling Carthusian Monks

white marble sculpture of kneeling monk

Unknown artist (Burgundy)
Kneeling Carthusian Monks
Late 14th century
Marble
10 1/16 x 5 1/2 x 2 5/8 in. (25.7 x 14.1 x 6.8 cm)
The Cleveland Museum of Art; John L. Severance Fund, Cleveland
© Cleveland Museum of Art

 

 

Anticipating the figure of Jan Vos in the Frick Virgin, these two marble statuettes are among the first sculptural representations of Carthusians as kneeling devotees. They wear the white scapular, the order’s distinctive mantle tied at the side by loose straps. In contrast to Jan Vos’s effigy, they do not portray actual individuals but rather embody a paradigm of Carthusian devotion and perpetual prayer. Their exact origin and function remain a mystery, as does the object of their devotion — probably a lost Crucifixion or Virgin. They originally belonged to a larger ensemble, possibly a small altarpiece, tomb, or portal.