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Art History: ”Head of King David” – A Part of the Great Sculpture Essay

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Updated: Feb 20th, 2022

The head is a part of the rich decorations of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. It was a part of the sculpture that depicted King David, the ruler of the united Israeli and Judah. It was made approximately in the year 1145 (“Head of Kind David.”). The cathedral of Notre Dame featured many heads like king David’s but they were destroyed during the French Revolution by vandals or revolutionaries themselves. The strong antipathy towards monarchy drove people to decapitate even the works of art that depicted something that was not even part of their misery. The recent analysis traced the head to the west façade of the cathedral that portrays Saint Anne, the grandmother of Jesus (Holmes and Harbottle 75). The west façade depicts the history of Jesus’ birth and his genealogy. King David is believed to be the relative of Jesus in the Christian faith, which was the reason for placing his statue on the façade.

The head itself is one of the few similar artifacts that survived the chaos of revolution. As a result of all the perturbations, the head lost its nose, lips, and part of the chin. The eyes were encrusted with black stone. The statue of King David decorated the entrance and was placed above eye level. Its glance was believed to be truly king-like and magnificent. Despite the fact that the statue was found to be produced in the first half of the 12th century, the cathedral witnessed its installment only 50-60 years later. Such delay could be explained by the fact that Notre-dame was financed mostly by the donations of parishioners and the construction and decoration took long enough to employ generations of sculptors and builders.

Works Cited

“Ancient Terracottas.” Getty.Edu. 2018, Web.

Conard, Nicholas J. “A Female Figurine from the Basal Aurignacian of Hohle Fels Cave in Southwestern Germany.” Nature, vol. 459, no. 7244, 2009, pp. 248-252.

Garate, Diego et al. “At the Crossroad: A New Approach to the Upper Paleolithic Art in the Western Pyrenees.” Quaternary International, vol. 364, 2015, pp. 283-293.

“Head of Kind David.” Met Museum. n.d., 2018. Web.

Holmes, L., and G. Harbottle. “Old stones, new science.” Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry, vol. 248, no. 1, 2001, pp. 75-79.

“Sculptural Group of a Seated Poet and Sirens (2) with unjoined fragmentary curls (304).” Getty.Edu. n.d., Web.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Art History: ”Head of King David” - A Part of the Great Sculpture." February 20, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/art-history-head-of-king-david/.

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