Head of Crosier

French or English
last third of 12th century

Object Place: Europe, France/England


12.4 x 8.1 cm (4 7/8 x 3 3/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Gilded copper (99.2% copper, .8% lead), glass

Not On View





Round-sectioned crook diminishing in thickness from the base and terminating in a volute that approximates a serpent: a spiral with a beast head at the end. Solid cast (as a straight piece), chased, bent into a spiral (probably with annealing), and gilded by mercury-amalgam method. The square inset soldered to the base with high-tin bronze (58% copper, 30% tin, 12% zinc) is probably the end of a pin that extended through a knop to attach the head to a wooden staff. The head has an open mouth, small upright ears, and inset translucent-green glass eyes. Engraved decoration marks the ears, nose, folds on either side of the mouth and the top of the head. Engraved low on the shaft between double bands is a stylized leaf design comprising a diaper pattern of lozenges with a short vertical line in each.


19th century, probably the abbey church of St-Pierre, Airvault, France. By 1880, M. Gaillard de la Dionnerie, Poitiers [see note 1]; November 30 - December 2, 1903, Gaillard de la Dionnerie sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, lot 132. December 14, 1911, anonymous sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, lot 44, to Henri Leman for 3,260 fr [see note 2]. 1924, Alexandre Léonce Rosenberg (b. 1877 - d. 1947), Paris; June 12-13, 1924, Rosenberg sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, lot 9. Julien Chappée (b. 1862 - d. 1957), Le Mans [see note 3]. 1936, Raphael Stora, Paris; July 1, 1936, sold by Stora to the Brummer Gallery New York (stock no. P13018); 1947, sold by Brummer to the MFA for $5000. (Accession Date: November 13, 1947)

[1] This was first mentioned in the Bulletin de la Société des antiquaires de l'Ouest 1880/1882 and 1883/1884 as probably coming from they abbey at Airvault. At that time it belonged to M. Gaillard de la Dionnerie. [2] At the time of the 1911 and 1924 auctions, the crosier head had been extended with the addition of an engraved knop. This was removed by the time Joseph Brummer owned it. [3] According to the Brummer inventory card.

Credit Line

1941 Museum Fund