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corpus early 14th century christ 14th century christ bronze gilt

Corpus early 14th century

Origin / Date France, early to mid 14th century
Material bronze gilt
Dimensions 113 mm
Availability Sold


A cast and engraved figure of the crucified Christ
First half of 14th century
bronze gilt

The left arm, half of right arm and bottom of feet missing, once probably torn off a processional cross or from the applique cross of a reliquary chasse.


The double beard here curls inwards either side of the chin, like the one on the Father on the chasse de Sainte Gertrude de Nivelles (Paris c, 1280), or the Parisian Christ of Musee Dobre de Nantes (Thoby no 287) c. 1300-20 , or most famously, the ivory descent of the cross in the Louvre. The facial type with the straight nose and well-defined contours of the closed eyes whose lids are still slightly parted is very close to the Christ from the ivory Triptych from Saint-Sulpice du Tarn (Musee National du Moyen Age, Paris) and others like it.
The more pronounced S-pose, where the torso has lost the upright position it had until, speaking very generally, the middle of the 13th century, is already seen in 1280 in Parisian stained glass, for example (Cluny Cl. 1881), and was going be disseminated widely in the 14th century by the many ivories then coming to market. The crown of thorns, which had become obligatory after the mid 13th century, here in torus form, is seen on most examples of that time, such as the ivory of c. 1300 (Germanisches National museum, Nuremberg) and the French ivory corpus in the V&A (A 21-1920) of the early 14th century.
The heavy knots and folds of the perizoneum which were prominent in the previous period, - eg. still seen in miniatures, such as those from the missel of Mont-Saint-Eloi (now Arras Ms no 49) of the middle of the 13th century, - and the strands of hair falling forwards over the shoulders, are here simplified and reduced, with the stronger vertical hang of the side loop characteristic of 14th century examples.
The straight and more frontal position of the head is noteworthy and differentiates it from Spitzer Collection no 283, an otherwise very similar bronze Christ with the same twist of hips, perizoneum and style of arms, one of unknown origin fixed onto a 14th century enamelled cross. The superior quality of the workmanship suggests a Parisian atelier.
Examples of these corpi from 1260 to 1350 sculpted in the round, whether ivory, wood or metal, are rare.


Private collection France early 1980s


Paul Thoby, Le Crucifix des Origines au Concile de Trent (1959)

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