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St. John the Apostle Leaning on Christ’s Breast

Unknownc. 1310

Bode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Bode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

The Gospel according to St. John tells us that at the Last Supper “there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved”. Here the two figures have been detached from the narrative context of the Biblical account, in line with the practice of other devotional images made after about 1300, which were intended to encourage the faithful to have a personal relationship with Christian doctrine. The two were seen as both a symbol and a model of the union of Man with God. In the fourteenth century, groups showing Christ and St. John were especially common in convents in southwest Germany and Switzerland. The Berlin work is reputed to have come from the Augustine convent of Inzigkofen, near Sigmaringen.

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