The J. Paul Getty Museum

Christ Child

Object Details

Title:

Christ Child

Artist/Maker:

Unknown maker, Italian

Culture:

Italian

Place:

Genoa, Liguria, Italy (Place Created)

Date:

about 1700

Medium:

Polychromed wood, with glass eyes

Object Number:

96.SD.18

Dimensions:

73.7 cm (29 in.)

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Object Description

With cherubic red checks, rich locks of curls, and folds of baby fat, the polychromed life-size wood statue of the nude Christ Child would have appealed to his audience. The child balances on a rocky landscape, his cape billowing around his shoulders. In his hand he may have once held a globe referring to his role as Salvator Mundi, the Savior of the World, or grapes, referring to his sacrifice on the cross. The nude Christ Child was a popular subject in European wood sculpture beginning in the 1300s. Theologians of this period understood Jesus's nudity as a sign of his human nature. During the 1500s and 1600s, Saint Ignatius Loyola and Saint Anthony of Padua further encouraged devotion to the humanity of Christ. This figure is a high Baroque version of the popular theme, full of animation and theatricality.

The fully carved-in-the-round statue was probably designed as a devotional image for an oratory, chapel, or church. It may also have been carried in religious processions or other spectacles of civic life, which were often staged by confraternities.

Provenance
Provenance
- 1995

Private Collection (New York) [sold, Christie's, New York, 10 January 1995, lot 42tp Patricia Wengraf Ltd.]

1995 - 1996

Patricia Wengraf Ltd. (London, United Kingdom), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1996.

Bibliography