Hand-carved in oak, circa 1800, these sculptures depict arguably the most important apostles: James, John, Peter, and Paul. All of the figures are distinctly different, although they share some commonalities, such as they are all barefoot and clad in ankle length tunics on a rectangular base with canted corners. The set would make fantastic decorative art for a mantel, shelf, or sofa table.
The apostles as they appear in the main photo (from left to right):
St. James (20 ¼” H x 7 ½” W x 5 ½” D): sometimes referred to as “James the Great”, he is depicted with long hair and a full beard above a cloak pinned beneath his neck. James is holding a flag with a quatrefoil piercing in his left hand, with the book in his right hand pressed close to his body. He is the patron saint of professions related to animals, such as furriers, veterinarians, and tanners.
St John (21 ¾” H x 8 ½” W x 7 ½” D): the largest of the sculptures (due to an additional footing which was never removed), John is holding a chalice in his left hand, with his right hand on his chest. Long, flowing hair drapes down over the back of his cloak, which is pinned at the right shoulder. John is the brother of James and as the youngest apostle, he is typically represented without facial hair. He is the patron saint of those devoted to knowledge through literature, with the likes of scholars, publishers, and booksellers.
St Peter (20 ½” H x 6 ¾” W x 5 ½” D): Peter has thick hair and a full beard, with a sash tied at his waist. His cloak is draped over his left shoulder and his right arm, which holds a book. There is a key in his left hand, representing the key to heaven, making him arguably the most recognized apostle. Those who claim Peter as their patron include bakers, fisherman, and butchers.
St Paul (20 ¼” H x 7 1/8” W x 5 ¼” D): although not one of the original apostles, Paul quickly became an important figure in theology. Paul can be seen with long hair surrounding his bald center. He has a thick, full beard and is wearing a cloak in a traditional manner. His right hand is on his torso, while his left holds a sword. Paul is the patron of religious figures, including missionaries, theologians, and evangelists.
CONDITION: Good antique condition with minor rubs and losses resulting from old wood worm damage. The statue of St. James is taller due to a secondary plinth of the base. All statues were possibly part of a larger installation at some point. A section of St Paul’s sword is missing. Please see photos for details.