Master of Franciscan Crucifixes, Crucifix

Master of Franciscan Crucifixes,

Master of Franciscan Crucifixes, Crucifix
XIII century, tempera on canvas applied to wood with inserts in gemstones and glass paste 198×157 cm, Inv. n. 97

In the board to the side of Christ’s body is a decoration in gold and silver enriched with mirrors and glass paste applications that lends great colourful impact to the composition as a whole.

In addition to the extraordinary skill of the artist, the work is outstanding for a stylistic evolution that begins with the persistence of Byzantine features – like the obvious linearity, the tendency toward stylisation, the circular brush strokes in Christ’s body – characteristic of early thirteenth-century paintings to attain a more human sense of drama and use of colours that reinforces the decorative elements.

The author of the crucifix has been identified as an artist who worked for Franciscan sites from Assisi to Camerino and as far as Bologna.

In a recent study, Anna Tambini proposed that this work dates to approximately 1270. A date that could also be coherent with its potential original home in the church of St. Francis, which was constructed in 1271. The presence of only St. Francis at the foot of the Crucifix reinforces the hypothesis that is was originally intended for such a location with the Franciscan brothers, where about the middle of the thirteenth century there was already a Compagnia della Santa Croce (Congregation of the Holy Cross).

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