XV Century Wooden Statue of Jesus Christ

Inventory Number: 42375



This elegant wooden statue represents Jesus Christ seated with one knee forward and missing portions of both arms. The face is framed by long, chestnut brown hair, and the facial hair is delicately modeled and painted on in a bright crimson. Christ is dressed very richly with a blue robe decorated by white pine cones, painted in the Oriental style. Draped over His left shoulder, He wears a cloak of contrasting colors upon which the same ornamental motif of pine cones, outlined in blue, is bordered by a full cuff lined in red. The statue’s posture indicates that it may have been formed from one or more statues with which it interacted. This is evidenced through the straight and slightly lowered gaze and the position of the arm, remaining up until the forearm, then bending 30 degrees.

Two of the principal hypotheses:

The first, because of the value of the clothes and the attitude of the figure, supposes that Christ is shown in the act of crowning the Virgin Mary, repeating widespread sculptural and pictorial paradigms that were used in Europe throughout the course of the thirteen hundreds up until the first half of the fourteen hundreds. The second hypothesis supposes that the figure of Christ was inserted in a wooden structure with many levels and compartments, centrally located and isolated, and in the act of blessing.

Such hypotheses will be studied carefully throughout the course of the restoration of the work. Historical information is lacking on the origin of this Christ, although it arrived at the Vatican Museums as a gift from Paul VI (Montini, 1963-1978) in 1976 when he purchased it in Milan from the antique dealer, Nella Longari.

The delicate model and the refined decorative taste indicate that the unknown engraver of this Christ may have lived within the first half of the 1400s, likely between central Italy and Venice. The late-Gothic elements evident in the statue, such as the graceful features of the face of Christ and the elegance of the figure and the clothes, are in harmony with  a  naturalism and formal simplification similar to that of the Renaissance, calling to mind the figures of Christ depicted by Masolino and Beato Angelico. This piece is expected to return on display after being held temporarily in storage.