The Crucified Christ

Pietro da Rimini (Italian, Riminese, active 1324–33)

Tempera and gold on wood
40 7/8 x 18 in. (103.8 x 45.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. W. Murray Crane, 1939
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    This moving depiction of Christ is a damaged fragment of a large painted crucifix and is inspired by a Crucifix painted by Giotto in the church of San Francesco, Rimini. A highly original and expressive painter, Pietro da Rimini was among the local painters most influenced by his example. This is a late work and is usually dated to the 1330s.

    Large painted crucifixes were usually hung over the high altar of churches or, alternatively, suspended above the rood screen dividing the public space from that reserved for clerics.

  • Catalogue Entry

    This impressive, if damaged, fragment from a large painted crucifix was first attributed to Pietro da Rimini in 1969 by Corbara. Zeri (1976, 1986) has suggested that the bust-length figures of the Virgin Mary and Saint John the Evangelist in the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore may have formed the terminals of the crosspiece and a blessing Christ in the same museum may have adorned the top of the crucifix. It is quite different both in style and form from his signed crucifix in Urbania, in which the forms are more elongated and distorted for expressive purposes. Pietro’s work was strongly influenced by Giotto, who worked in Rimini and to whom a magnificent painted cross in the church of San Francesco, Rimini (the so-called Tempio Malatestiano) is often ascribed. That cross certainly provided the model for the MMA crucifix. Only recently has it been possible to begin to construct a chronology of Pietro’s work. The MMA crucifix is currently understood as late, relating most closely to some frescoes formerly in Santa Maria in Porto Fuori, Ravenna (destroyed), painted in the 1330s. Large painted crucifixes were usually hung over the high altar or, alternatively, suspended above the rood screen—as can be seen in a fresco in the basilica of San Francesco, Assisi. They functioned as substitutes for sculpted ones and the raised haloes were a carryover.


  • Provenance

    [Girolamo Palumbo, Rome, until 1929; as attributed to Baronzio; sold to Crane]; Mrs. W. Murray Crane, New York (1929–39)

  • References

    Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932, p. 44, lists it as a fragment by Giovanni Baronzio.

    Mario Salmi. Letter to Mrs. W. Murray Crane. November 21, 1932, calls it a beautiful work of the Riminese school, possibly superior to the work of Baronzio.

    Antonio Corbara. Letter to Mrs. W. Murray Crane. December 16, 1934, relates it to a crucifix in the church of Sant'Agostino, Rimini, noting the influence of Pietro Lorenzetti.

    Mario Salmi. "La scuola di Rimini, III." Rivista del R. Istituto d'Archeologia e Storia dell'Arte 5, nos. 1–2 (1935), pp. 104, 124 n. 6, fig. 10, considers it similar to works by followers of Pietro da Rimini, rejecting the attribution to Baronzio.

    Bernhard Berenson. Pitture italiane del rinascimento. Milan, 1936, p. 37.

    Harry B. Wehle. "A Riminese Crucifix." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 34 (June 1939), pp. 140–41, ill., attributes it to Baronzio's workshop; discusses the influence of Giotto's crucifix in the Arena Chapel, Padua.

    Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, pp. 83–84, ill., as Workshop of Baronzio.

    Edoardo Arslan. Letter. April 21, 1952, calls it possibly Riminese, but not from Baronzio's school.

    Carlo Volpe. La pittura riminese del Trecento. Milan, 1965, pp. 54, 80, no. 62, fig. 180, attributes it to an anonymous painter of the Riminese school and dates it 1330–40.

    Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Central Italian and North Italian Schools. London, 1968, vol. 1, p. 357, lists it among anonymous Riminese Trecento paintings.

    Antonio Corbara. Letter to Olga Raggio. January 28, 1969, attributes it to Pietro da Rimini or to his circle.

    Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 166, 287, 607.

    Federico Zeri. Italian Paintings in the Walters Art Gallery. Baltimore, 1976, vol. 1, pp. 60–61, states that it is uncertain whether this fragment is part of the same painting as three terminals from a crucifix in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore; tentatively dates the Baltimore fragments to Pietro's later period, possibly to the early 1340s.

    Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, North Italian School. New York, 1986, pp. 53–54, pl. 1.

    Miklòs Boskovits. "Per la storia della pittura tra la Romagna e le Marche ai primi del '300 – II." Arte Cristiana 81 (May–June 1993), p. 176 n. 47, attributes it to Pietro.

    Massimo Medica in Il Trecento riminese: maestri e botteghe tra Romagna e Marche. Exh. cat., Museo della Città, Rimini. Milan, 1995, pp. 107–8, compares the figure of Christ with a fresco formerly in Santa Maria in Porto Fuori, Ravenna, and believes the Baltimore fragments to have formed its terminals.

    Andrea De Marchi in Fonds d'or et fonds peints italiens (1300–1560). Exh. cat., G. Sarti. Paris, 2002, p. 26 n. 1, attributes it to Pietro's workshop, listing it among other Riminese crucifixes with raised haloes.

  • Notes

    The panel, which has been cut down all around, is cradled. It is not easy to read the state of the picture due to an old, oxidized varnish, but the background has suffered many paint losses and the raised portion of the halo has largely crumbled away. However, the original gilding is still present, and the head and body of Christ are fairly well preserved. It should be noted that linen was laid between the original wood panel and the layer of gesso. (Zeri and Gardner 1986)

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History