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Work The Crucifixion

Department of Decorative Arts: Renaissance

Bas-relief: the Crucifixion

© 1990 RMN / Daniel Arnaudet

Decorative Arts

Baratte Sophie

This bas-relief depicts the crucifixion of Christ with four figures. It is attributed to Donatello, during the period when he was active at the Santo in Padua between 1443 and 1454, and entered the Louvre in 1897. It has been linked to a relief owned by the Medici family in the sixteenth century and is similar to the bronze plaques which provided ornamentation for doors.

Description and history

The cross on which the body of Christ hangs appears unusually wide, on account of two vertical spears between which two soldiers can be seen in very low relief. In the foreground, to either side, stand the weeping Virgin and St. John. The symmetrical composition is enlivened by the ladder standing at an angle to the horizontal line of the cross. This bas-relief is one of a number of works of great aesthetic value donated by Comte Isaac de Camondo (1851-1911). It came originally from an English collection and entered the Louvre when he died. It has been suggested that it may be a Crucifixion mentioned in the sixteenth century as belonging to the Medici family, "a Christ on the cross surrounded by other historical figures".

The artist

Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi known as Donatello (1386?-1466) was trained in the workshop of Ghiberti, before working as a sculptor mainly in Florence and Padua. The present work was attributed to him after comparing it with the marble bas-relief for St. Peter's tabernacle in Rome and the reliefs for the Sagrestia Vecchia at San Lorenzo in Florence. The model might have been made before he departed for Padua in 1440, but it could also date from his stay in Padua, a city renowned for the activity of its metal-casters. Some specialists have attributed it to Donatello's workshop after the middle of the century, or even to Bertoldo di Giovanni (circa 1440-91), who worked in Florence for the Medicis.

The art of relief in Florence in the early fiteenth century

The competition held in 1402 for the baptistery doors of Florence Cathedral provides evidence of the revival taking place in the art of bronze-making in that city at the turn of the fifteenth century. The bas-reliefs of Abraham's sacrifice by Filippo Brunelleschi and Lorenzo Ghiberti are still preserved in the Opera del Duomo museum in Florence.

Technical description

  • Donato di Niccolo di Betto BARDI, known as DONATELLO (Florence, c. 1386 - Florence, 1466)

    Bas-relief: the Crucifixion

    C. 1440

    Italy (Padua?)

  • Bronze

    H. 46 cm; W. 28.80 cm

  • Comte Isaac de Camondo bequest, 1897 , 1897


    OA 6477

  • Decorative Arts

    Richelieu wing
    1st floor
    Room 511
    Display case 2

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