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Saint Gervasius
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Saint Gervasius

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 Gervasius exorcizes a demon from a shackled woman. In the Middle Ages, the deranged were often chained up because there were no special hospitals for them. That the woman's derangement is caused by her being possessed by evil spirits is represented by the demon sitting on her shoulder, holding the chains in his mouth.
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 paint
Accession Number
29 15/16 x 13 9/16 x 7 5/16 in. (76 x 34.5 x 18.5 cm)
Location Within Museum
Centre Street: Third Floor: Lobby


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