Vertebra Preacher

Vertebra Preacher
Vertebra Preacher

1800-1850 / God & Faith / Methodism / Organic / Other / Sculpture
Bone, painted
Probably early 1800s

This curious object is made from the bone vertebra of a cow, oxen, or horse. It depicts a preaching clergymen, possibly but not necessarily Methodist, and is a piece of folk art.

Although unusual, this piece is not unique. There are three similar vertebra preacher statuettes in the Collection at Wesley's Chapel, and occasionally one comes across them in museums and private collections. The material, colouring and the bone 'wings' at the back make these small statues appear rather sombre.

This particular statuette has very distinctive facial features and may be a portrait painted from life.

See also one other vertebra preacher - possibly a depiction of John Wesley - in the Online Collection.