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Work Christ at the Column

Department of Decorative Arts: 17th century

Christ at the Column in blood-stone and rock crystal

© 2000 RMN / Jean-Gilles Berizzi

Decorative Arts
17th century

Author(s):
Barbier Muriel

Louis XIV (1638-1715), a great lover of hard stone, built up a large collection of precious and semiprecious stoneware, comprising mostly vases, bowls, and nefs (centerpieces). A number of statuettes also featured in the inventory of the collection, including this jasper Christ at the Column with a sumptuous enameled gold mount typical of the 17th century.

A jasper Christ

The pose of this delicately cut green jasper Christ clad simply in a loin cloth is slightly twisted. The statuette draws on depictions of the martyrdom of Christ in statuary. There were many hard-stone representations of Christ. A jasper Christ with a Crown of Thorns was recorded at the Château de Pau in 1561. In the 18th century, another stood in the offices of Servin, an honorary adviser to the Parlement: this was a flagellated Christ in bloodstone whose red specks resembled drops of blood. The Louvre's Christ at the Column is also carved in a jasper with red specks, judiciously used to evoke His blood and the Passion.

A highly ornate mount

The small flat jasper base attached to the Christ is attached to the plinth with a screw, the head of which is decorated with an enameled flower. The quadrangular gold plinth is hollow. On each of the four sides is an oval medallion surrounded by a carved wreath of laurel leaves bound with ribbons depicting the four Evangelists in bas-relief. In the corners, four children evoke the weeping angels sculpted by Jacques Sarrazin (1592-1660) as part of the decoration of the Monument for the Heart of Louis XIII. The other ornamentation ranges from decorative leaves in white and green enamel to more naturalistic motifs. Alternate white and green enamel acanthus leaves line the top and bottom of the plinth. The naturalist style is reflected in the garlands of flowers and fruit, punctuated by four angel's heads on the upper frieze. These garlands bear a resemblance to the 16th-century clusters of flowers and fruit decorating the carnelian jug in the Louvre.

A statuette among the semiprecious-stone vessels

Along with many other statuettes, the Christ at the Column was included in an inventory of the Crown collection of precious and semiprecious stoneware. It was purchased by Colbert (1619-1683) on the orders of Louis XIV. The Christ at the Column has been part of the Crown collection ever since. It entered the Louvre after the French Revolution in 1793 and remained a highly admired piece in the 19th century. The statuette was even painted by Blaise-Alexandre Desgoffe in an oil on wood in 1868, a work entitled Au Louvre, in which the Christ at the Column is shown next to the Bust of the Virgin, standing on the base of the Bust of a Woman.

Bibliography

Alcouffe Daniel, Les Gemmes de la Couronne, Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 2001, p. 502-504.

Technical description

  • Christ at the Column in blood-stone and rock crystal

    Mid-17th century?

    Italy

  • Enamelled gold pedestal: medallions representing the Four Evangelists
    Paris, c. 1660-70

    H. 22 cm

  • Acquired by Louis XIV in 1671

    MR 153

  • Decorative Arts

    Richelieu wing
    1st floor
    Adolphe de Rothschild
    Room 25
    Display case 1

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