A roundel by an anonymous Italian stone carver.  It is permanently embedded into a Medieval display wall of the DIA, along with other roundels and pieces of carved stone from the Middle Ages.

Can you guess the age of this piece?  The 11th, 12th, or 13th century perhaps?  The Latin spelling of “Jesus” on the banner, “IESVS,” along with the primitive style, are certainly give-aways that it has to be quite early.

Don’t feel bad if you didn’t guess – late 1800’s to early 1900’s – as stated on the placard in the museum!  I worked for hours on this drawing before checking the date and was shocked to see the carving might be only a little more than 100 years old.  I don’t know if it was intentionally carved to appear centuries older, or if the carver was an unconscientious Middle Ages Master.

Does anyone have more information about this piece?  I’d appreciate any further enlightenment.  Thank you!





This Rock

Bust_of_St. Peter_Alessand copy


Simon was called Peter (meaning “rock”) by Jesus.  Peter was a man of the earth – a fisherman, impulsive, not an intellectual – he put his whole self into his work.  By his own admission he was “a sinful man.”

Peter was like this sculpture: made of clay dug from the earth, then tried through fire to become “a rock.”

This not quite finished sketch is of a terra cotta (Italian: “baked earth”) bust by Alessandro Algardi.




Another Sketch


This is a quick sketch of a terra cotta bust by Vincenzo Gemito of Italy in 1880.  The personal and seemingly affectionate rendering of this portrait causes me to wonder what became of the child, her family and the artist.

The subject is Charlotte Meissonier, godchild of Gemito’s student, Edouard Detaille, who later became semi-official artist to the French army.  Was Charlotte the daughter of Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier, an accomplished, self-taught artist in the Academic manner?  I was not able to find that out.

Gemito was orphaned as a child but was adopted by a poor sculptor.  He went on to study under two other sculptors and at 16, first sold a work of his own.  He built a bronze foundry in Naples in 1883, but suffered a mental collapse 4 years later.  It wasn’t until 22 years later, in 1909, that he resumed sculpting.  Fortunately, he lived another 20 productive years.

Hopefully, the others associated with this endearing portrait were able to overcome their own personal struggles as did Vincenzo Gemito.

Another Saint

8. Saint Agnes

This is St. Agnes, martyred, approximate age – 13.  She was a beautiful Roman girl who refused numerous offers of marriage, having promised herself to Christ alone.  Not being swayed by many gifts, ultimately from the governor and his son, she was beheaded in 304.  Even the pagan Romans decried the disgrace of publicly executing one so young and attractive.  She is extolled in the Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran traditions.

To honor her, this lovely face was sculpted by Alfred Drury, in England, in 1894.

It is actually not a bronze, but made of plaster with a bronzed and burnished patina expertly applied (sure looks like bronze!)

Drawing done at the DIA, charcoal and pastel, in about 4 hours.

St. Catherine

St. Catherine

This charcoal and pastel drawing is of a wood sculpture at the DIA from 15th century Germany.  The sculpture is finished on three sides and doubtless was installed against a wall or column of a church.  The 4th century Roman martyr Catherine was beheaded.  She is shown holding a sword, the instrument of her death.  Martyrs are often depicted with the tools of their martyrdom – to remind us of their sacrifice, and to show their gratitude for the service of delivering them from this worldly existence into the endless glories of eternal life with God.

St. Michael

4. St. Michael

A relief sculpture at the DIA, St. Michael is a 15th century anonymous carving in oak, probably an altar decoration.  This drawing was done in charcoal and pastel.  It took approximately 35 hours.