Corpus and Cross
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Corpus: Flemish, 1680 - 1720; Cross: French, 1765 - 70
Boxwood figure on a cross of oak veneered with ebony, inlaid with brass, and adorned with gilt brass mounts
19 x 18 in.

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Jesus, hanging on the cross, bows his head, and closes his eyes, signaling death. Sculpting with a gentle naturalism, the artist endowed the corpus or body with lithe, long limbs and polished the boxwood to a warm reddish-brown. The figure's long arms suspended from the cross and the resulting twist in his powerful body subtly evoke Jesus' pain and suffering during the Crucifixion, eliciting an empathic response from viewers. The figure's type and pose, loosely based on an Italian model, emphasize Jesus' calm dignity. In contrast to figure's subtle handling, the split loincloth hangs in a dramatically furled swag.

In the 1700s, the corpus was remounted on a lavish new cross held in a base with a centrally placed medallion of the Virgin Mary. The snake encircling the foot of the cross not only alludes to Christ's redemptive role as the "second Adam" but also stands as an ancient symbol of immortality. The cross and corpus was probably placed on an altar in the private chapel of a nobleman's house.

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