HIGHLY SIGNIFICANT ROMANESQUE CORPUS CHRISTI


Southeast France
Around 1150/70

Corpus oak wood
Arms, chestnut wood around 1400
Remains of the original chalk primer
Height 110 cm, width 98 cm

Particularly impressive is the pronounced rigidity of the elongated body, typical of early Romanesque figures. His calm, yet haunting expression is evident through his oversized, forward-facing eyes that sit in deep sockets.
Still, his gaze is slightly downcast and accentuated by the prominent nose and large flaring ears that frame the face. His hair falls to his shoulders in a symmetrical manner; with the coalesced chin, cheek and moustache ending in artificial volute curls.
It should be noted that this striking physiognomy is particularly due to the elevated context of installation, as this figure was most likely designed to be viewed from below.

To emphasize Christ’s suffering on the cross, the emaciated rib cage including ribs and central sternum are particularly carved out. Furthermore, the oversized nipples give expression to an almost frightening nudity.
Although later, the sinewy arms and hands with overlong fingers skillfully take up the stylized martyring. The clear stigmata holes also indicate that the crucifix was attached to a cross with large nails, probably in the nave of a church, well above the heads of the faithful. The angular block-like perizonium is particularly typical of the period before 1200 and skilfully balances the figure’s elevation.
The V-shaped bowl fold reflects in its slight rounding the proportions of Jesus’ face and is very related to an early 12th century bronze crucifix from Pays de la Loire (collection of Adolphe Stoclet), now in the British Museum (1965,0704.1).*)
The loosely hanging legs with larger-than-average feet, whose toes are curled up like claws in pain, which can be seen underneath, contribute to the shockingly dramatic overall appearance. Although this unique, phenomenally preserved crucifix is shown with a martyred body, Christ triumphs over death, symbolized by the suffering-idealized representation in a majestic straight posture with eyes wide open.

*) https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/H_1965-0704-1.