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Saint Cosmas
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Saint Cosmas

Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Credit
Description Medieval medicine offered few cures. Christians focused their hopes for recovery from illness or accident on their prayers to saints to intercede for them with God. Saints Cosmas and Damian, Protasius and Gervasius, were two pairs of twin brothers who were invoked for their healing of the sick. The statues are from the hospital complex at Abbeville, built between 1484 and 1492, where they may have stood in niches at the entrance to the church. The vigorous modeling and realistic details- as in the variety in their facial expressions- are made more vivid by the use of color and give credibility to the saints' humanity. Their size, relative to the sick at their feet, conveys their superhuman powers, while the clerical garments lend them authority. The stocky proportions are typical of French sculpture of the late 15th century. Saint Cosmas, gloves in hand, heals a man with a bloated stomach. It is likely that he originally held a vessel in his left hand. Cosmas and Damian were twin brothers who, according to legend, practiced as doctors in Cilicia in Asia Minor. They are said to have refused all payment in order to convert their patients. They were martyred in the 3rd century and are regarded as patrons of doctors and surgeons. See 27. 282, 284, 285.
Date Description Narrative
  • Vive la France! French Treasures from the Middle Ages to Monet. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1999-2000.
Provenance [From the hospital (Hôtel-Dieu), Abbeville, demolished by 1904]; Dikran Kelekian, Paris, by purchase; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1912, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1912

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1484-1492 (Late Medieval)
limestone with traces of paint and gilding
Accession Number
H: 27 9/16 x W: 11 7/16 x D: 8 3/4 in. (70 x 29 x 22.3 cm)
Location Within Museum
Centre Street: Third Floor: Lobby


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