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Our collection galleries are continually being installed with newly acquired works as well as enduring favorites from the Museum’s collection. Visit us to view these newly installed objects in person.

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Melchior Barthel, German, 1625–1672; Bust of a Man, 1660s; marble; 24 1/2 x 17 x 8 5/8 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Funds given by Mr. and Mrs. R. Crosby Kemper Jr. through the Crosby Kemper Foundations 54:1990

This sensitive portrait of an unknown man stands as one of the most dignified representations of black Africans from seventeenth-century Europe. It is the only secular work known to have been sculpted by Melchior Barthel. The bust exemplifies the artist’s mastery of flamboyant carving and bold contrast of color and material. Barthel’s greatest achievement was the completion of the Venetian tomb of Doge Giovanni Pesaro (died 1659), which included colossal figures of muscular Moors who stood, like the mythological Atlas, with the weight of the upper tomb on their shoulders. Bust of a Man probably records one of the models who posed for that project. Carved in black serpentine, it has been oiled to give it both greater luster and higher contrast with the white marble clothing.

On view in Gallery 236



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