Christ Crucified / 13th Century / Anglesey

 

Classification Data

Current location: private collection

Acc.: n/a

Project ref.: Christ Crucified / 13th Century / Anglesey

Material(s): oak

Dimensions: 1600mm h. x 1220mm w. x 230mm d.

Form: high relief (statue)

Iconography: Christ crucified (Crucifixion)

Period: 13th century (mid)

Place of recovery: Wales (Anglesey)

Probable origin: Wales

Probable context: unknown / rood-grouping

Alternate Views

 

 

 

Additional information

Construction/materials: Carved in high relief; head fully in the round but coarsely finished. Crown of thorns carved integrally, with wooden pins inserted to simulate thorns. Otherwise comprised of three pieces of timber: the largest forming the head and torso/legs; the arms formed of smaller pieces attached with barefaced tenons. Crown of head relieved with drilled hole. Hands and feet originally attached to cross with three nails. Four drilled holes spaced at intervals down length of torso  likely served to attached the sculpture to its cross. Timber shows the dark reddish-brown colour and wild and open grain characteristic of Welsh oak. Slumped posture achieved through selection of naturally curved stock

Surface: Dark, almost black, patintation with few traces of polychome, mostly around area of forehead.

 Condition: Upper region of torso and mortises joining arms to torso reworked (14th century?) to achieve current angled positioned. Losses to fingers of both hands.

Provenance: Recovered in Anglesey (Wales) , c. 1990; private collection, Norfolk; private collection; thence to present owner.

Image credit(s): Don White, 2011.

Comparative images

1. 

2. 

3.

4.

5.

6.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes

Description: Christ crucified (from rood-grouping). The beardless head inclined to the right with the eyes close and brow knitted in pain. The arms, once straight, repositioned upward (probably in the fourteenth century) to conform with the dolorosis type. The torso emaciated, showing prominent ribs and a bloated belly. Clad in a skirt-like perizomeum held up by a belt and with a central, tubular ‘apron’ fold. An extremely deep side-wound carved beneath the right breast.

This is both the largest and best preserved example of what was once the most ubiquitous from of devotional wood sculpture in Britain: Christ crucified from the rood-grouping. It also among the earliest, occupying a chronological position between the Romanesque fragments found behind the north wall of the nave at All Saints, South Cerney (Glos) and the late thirteenth-century Torso that tumbled out of a blocked up rood-staircase ‘together with skulls and bones’ during repairs to Kemeys Inferior (Newport, Wales) in 1886. Notable features include absence of a carved beard, hair executed as a solid, screen-like mass, a short perizoneum that is of equal length on all sides, and a tiptoed, dancing stance in which one foot rests atop, and in-line with, the other. These recur with greatest regularity in English and English-derived depictions of the crucified Christ of the second quarter of the thirteenth-century.

The c. 1240 Christ from Fresvik in West Norway,  recognized since the 1950s as the product of an English or English-derived workshop, exhibits the distinctive stance and screen-like hair – features that may also be seen on the Crucifixion scenes of two mid thirteenth-century ivory plaques attributed to England (British Museum, 1894,0309.20; Walker Art Gallery, M 8011).

The Christ figures on both plaques are breadless, and the Fresvik Christ  has a short beard executed only with paint, which was perhaps the original format of beard on the Anglesey Christ. Its design features recur regularity in English and English-derived depictions of the crucified Christ of the second quarter of the thirteenth-century. The c.1240 Notable features include, a short perizonium that is of equal length on all sides, and a distinctive tiptoed, dancing stance, in which one foot rests atop and in-line with the other, hair executed as a solid, screen-like mass, and absence of a carved beard

The short perizoneum, based on Ottonian models, appears on the Walker Art Gallery ivory and is also common in the Crucifixion scenes of Oxford and East Anglian manuscripts of the first half of the thirteenth century. As was often the case in English figurative arts of the first half of the thirteenth century, and as seen in the related examples cited above, the Anglesey corpus retains a number of Romanesque features: the schematisation of the torso (now somewhat reworked at the chest) and the tubular ‘apron’ fold hanging from the belt of the perizoneum.

Reference Literature:

- Jonathan Alexander and Paul Binski (eds.), Age of Chivalry: Art in Plantagenet England, 1200 – 1400, an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1987 (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson Ltd., 1984), pp. 231-232

-  Aaron Anderson, English Influence in Norwegian and Swedish Figuresculpture in wood, 1220-1270 (Stockhold: Wahlström & Widestrand, 1950), pp. 129-134

-  Henry B. Graham, ‘The Munich Psalter’, in The Year 1200: A Symposium (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1975), pp. 301-12.

-  C. M. Kauffmann, Biblical Imagery in Medieval England 700-1500 (London: Harvey Miller, 2003), p. 167.

-  Mark Redknap, ‘The Medieval Crucifix Figure from Kemeys Inferior and its Church’, Monmouthshire Antiquary, 14 (2000), pp. 51-53

Captions:

1. Christ crucified, oak with polychrome, Fresvik (Sogn, Norway),c. 1240 (Historical Museum, Bergen).

2. Crucifixion and Three Holy Women at the Sepulcher, walrus ivory, England, c. 1240 (The British Museum, 1894,0309.20).

3. Christ in Majesty, Crucifixion and the Virgin and Child with Sts Peter and Paul, ivory, England, c. 1260 (National Museums Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery, M 8011).

4. Crucifixion, ‘de Brailes Hours’, Oxford,  workshop of William de Brailes, c. 1240  (British Library, Add. 49999, f. 47v).

5. Crucifixion, pslater, Oxford, c. 1210 (British Library, Royal 1 D X, f. 6v).

6. Crucifixion. ‘Carrow Psalter c.1250 (Walters Art Museum, W. 34, f. 27r).

Image credit(s): Don White, 2011;  British Library, The British Museum; Walker Art Gallery; Walters Art Museum.