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To Be Returned? Met’s Own Notre-Dame Sculpture Figures in Museum’s Program on the Cathedral

In yesterday’s post, I had suggested that the Metropolitan Museum could show its support for the fire-ravaged Notre-Dame Cathedral by returning to it the Head of King David now in the Met’s collection, for eventual installation at the building for from which it had been removed during the French Revolution.

Head of King David, ca. 1145, Metropolitan Museum

Today, the Met announced that it would offer a free “informal program” on Monday at 4 p.m., “where Met experts who are familiar with Notre-Dame Cathedral will speak briefly about its importance….Nearby will be The Met’s 12th-century Head of King David—originally part of the rich sculptural decoration program of Notre-Dame, but decapitated during the French Revolution.”

The number and importance of the Met officials listed as speakers seems to belie the characterization of this event as “informal”—Daniel Weiss, President and CEO (himself a medievalist); Max Hollein, Director; Barbara Drake Boehm, Senior Curator for The Met Cloisters; Lucretia Kargère, Conservator, The Met Cloisters; Nancy Wu, Senior Managing Educator, Public Programs, The Met Cloisters.

Perhaps more meaningful than a possible announcement of the transfer of one object would be a specific plan to assist in the cathedral’s restoration. As I learned yesterday from a savvy CultureGrrl reader, there are actually 21 more of the original 28 heads from Notre-Dame’s “Gallery of the Kings of Judah” that are known to have survived: They are at the Musée de Cluny—the national museum of Middle Ages in Paris, having been rediscovered in 1977 during repair work at the headquarters of the French Bank for Foreign Trade.

Here’s the king pictured (without specific identification of its subject) at the above link on that museum’s website:

As further described on the Cluny’s website, the heads are “one of the highlights of the museum’s collection, from a historical as well as an artistic point of view,” and they have retained “traces of polychrome.”

In other Notre-Dame news, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe has announced an architectural competition to replace the cathedral’s destroyed spire, which has inspired both controversy…

and waggery (a reference to Thomas Heatherwick‘s controversial “Vessel” at New York’s Hudson Yards):

Speaking of which, I still owe you a post or two about Hudson Yards and The Shed.

I have a question pending with the Met about its further plans, if any, regarding the restoration of Notre-Dame. If I learn more, you’ll learn more.

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