The J. Paul Getty Museum

Christ Child

Object Details


Christ Child


Unknown maker, Italian




Genoa, Liguria, Italy (Place Created)


about 1700


Polychromed wood, with glass eyes

Object Number:



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.

- 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.