The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of March 21, 2018

The Good Shepherd, 280-290

marble, Overall: 49.5 x 26 x 16.2 cm (19 7/16 x 10 3/16 x 6 3/8 in.). John L. Severance Fund 1965.241

Images of a youthful shepherd standing among his flock and carrying a sheep over his shoulders were popular with Romans of traditional faith as well as Christians living in the Late Roman Empire. Painted on the walls or the ceiling of a burial chamber or carved on a marble sarcophagus, this image might simply invoke the deceased’s hope for a peaceful afterlife spent in a pastoral setting. For Christians, this traditional Roman image took on a more specific meaning. It could be understood to refer to the passage in the Gospel according to John in which Christ said of himself: "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10:11). Allegedly found together with the Jonah statuettes, it is indeed likely that this figure represents Christ as the Good Shepherd.

Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX (11/18/2007 - 3/30/2008): "Picturing the Bible: The Earliest Christian Art", ex. cat. no. 21, p. 190-191.
Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN (2/13/2009 - 6/7/2009): "Sacred Gifts and Worldly Treasures: Medieval Masterworks from the Cleveland Museum of Art"

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