Head of a Noblewoman

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Head of a Noblewoman, 14th century
7 × 9 3/4 × 12 in. (17.78 × 24.77 × 30.48 cm)
Gift of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation through the Milwaukee Sentinel M1958.67
Photo credit: John Nienhuis
Currently on View

This portrait of a late medieval noblewoman shows her lying on her back. This is because it was made to rest upon her tomb, which would have been in a French church. Known as a gisant, which is French for “reclining,” it would have originally been part of a full-figure sculpture. The woman wears an elaborate headdress, including a gorget, or a piece of fabric pulled across her chin and fastened to her braids, which was fashionable in the fourteenth century.

Publication History
Sawinski, Catherine. From the Collection--Head of a Noblewoman tomb effigy. Milwaukee Art Museum: Under the Wings, April 13, 2012. http://blog.mam.org/2012/04/13/from-the-collection-head-of-a-noblewoman-tomb-effigy/.

Goldstein, Rosalie, ed. Guide to the Permanent Collection. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 1986, p. 21, b/w illus. p. 21.

Milwaukee Art Center Calender, May–June 1965, b/w illus.

Milwaukee Sentinel, September 18, 1958, cover, p. 2 and 3, b/w illus.

This information is subject to change as the result of ongoing research.