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The Crucifixion

The Crucifixion

Culture: Italian
Date: late 15th century–early 16th century
Medium: Bronze
Dimensions:
4 1/16 x 3 1/8 x 1/2 inches (10.3 x 7.9 x 1.3 cm)
Classification: Sculpture
Credit Line: Museum purchase, Charles Rufus Clegg Art Collection Fund
Label Text:This plaquette represents the biblical scene of the Crucifixion with Christ in the center nailed to a wooden cross, flanked by two tortured thieves. The serene image of Christ, shown high above the crowd, contrasts with the writhing bodies of his dying companions and the frantic group below. Mary Magdalene, hair flowing, clutches the cross’s base, while two women in the lower left corner support the fainting Virgin. Saint John stands above her praying, while numerous Roman guards carrying shields and weapons fill the chaotic scene.

Small plaquettes such as this were popular collectors’ items in Italy in the late 1400s and early 1500s. Prized for their craftsmanship, plaquettes were cast in low relief and usually depicted mythical or religious subjects. Frequently set into larger pieces of furniture such as inkstands and chests, plaquettes also served as a way to diffuse original and popular artistic imagery among different regions. Like prints and drawings, they were light, small, and often made in multiple copies.

Provenance: Collection of the Chalandon family, Paris. Purchased Spring 1969 through (Paul Drey Gallery, NY) by Duke University Museum of Art, now Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.
Object number: 1969.6.1