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Siet hier het saelich hooft van Godt soo vuÿtvercoren. A contextual study of the sculpted St John’s Head in the Low Countries 1370-1800

A three-dimensional representation of the head of John the Baptist on a platter emerged in the early thirteenth century throughout Europe. On the one hand these sculpted St John’s Heads refer to the biblical texts about the beheading of John the Baptist, on the other hand they show a significant affinity with the relic cult of the saint, in particular with the skull relic of Amiens.

Based on three lines of research – object, function and context – I intend to reveal the 'phenomenon' of the medieval and (early) modern St John’s Head, and, in this way, put this forgotten cult object back in the spotlight.

The research will be limited to the context in the Low Countries between 1370-1800 and mainly focus on the typology and distribution of the object, on its Sitz im Leben and its changing functions through the late Middle Ages and modern times, and finally its place in the broader St John’s cult.


This research is embedded in a broader research project about the caput in disco under the guidance of prof. dr. Barbara Baert and dr. Cyriel Stroo.

Date:1 Oct 2012  →  1 Oct 2016
Keywords:sculpture, relic, devotion
Disciplines:Art studies and sciences
Project type:PhD project