Ein Fund in der Museumssammlung. Ein Heiliger Jakobus aus Kalkstein in der Sammlung behauener Steine des Tallinner (Revaler) Stadtmuseums


  • Risto Paju University of Tartu




Medieval Tallinn, St James, Sculpture, Gothic, Collection Of Ashlars At The Tallinna City Museum


The Collection of Ashlars at the Tallinn City Museum includes a sculpture that stands 52.5 cm tall and is hewn from Lasnamägi limestone (Abb. 1). It depicts a slender man in a long robe, with a staff and travel bag around his neck. The statue has been seriously damaged. In addition to the broken front, its head is also missing – all that has survived is part of its beard. The goal of the article is to more closely examine the sculpture, which has not received any attention to date, in order to determine who it depicts, where it could be been located, and examine the surviving traces of paint. The primary motivation for writing the article is the fact that very few medieval three-dimensional stone sculptures have survived in Estonia. Also, this figure has not been dealt with or even mentioned in earlier writings. It can be said that, regardless of the damage it has suffered, the sculpture is complete enough to determine who is depicted. As stated above, the man has a walking stick or staff in his right hand and, based on the surviving fragments, a book in his right hand. On the partially surviving bag, we see the image of a scallop (Abb. 2). The staff and scallop tell us that this is a figure of St James. The sculpture is gothic in style, and based thereon, it can be dated back to the 15th or early 16th century. The sculptural material – Lasnamägi limestone – arouses attention. Where was this sculpture to be placed? We cannot dismiss the fact that the figure of the saint comes from a sacral building, but there could also have been saints in residential buildings, for example, on exterior facades or somewhere indoors. In summary, one must admit that the original location of the sculpture can only be speculated upon and definite answers are not possible. However, what is certain is that this is the work of a skilled master. Regardless of the fact that Lasnamägi limestone is not the best sculptural material, the work is finely hewn and well-proportioned. The sculpture is now on display in the new Estonian National Museum building.


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Author Biography

Risto Paju, University of Tartu

Risto Paju has been a curator and keeper of the Collection of Ashlars at the Tallinn City Museum since 2005. His research is focused on the exhibits in the Collection of Ashlars at the City Museum, based on which he has published articles and organised exhibitions. Of the latter, the most important the permanent exposition in the Carved Stone Museum, which he curated in 2016. Paju has also dealt with researching the inventory lists of Tallinn’s 18th century citizenry.