Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Crucified Christ

ca. 1260–80
Made in Paris, France
Elephant ivory, traces of polychromy
Overall: 6 5/8 x 1 11/16 x 1 5/16in. (16.8 x 4.3 x 3.4cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Maxime L. Hermanos, 1978
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 304
The suffering of Christ on the cross was so important in Gothic art that the mid-thirteenth-century statute of the corporations of Paris included a guild dedicated to the carving of such images, including ones in ivory. This ivory sculpture of Christ, whose pathos and agony are beautifully conveyed, was executed in the round and most certainly was intended for an altar cross. In spite of the loss of both arms and parts of the legs (which originally were attached to the body by means of pegs), the modeling of the figure reveals a profound sensitivity to form and expression. The powerful anatomical structure—portraying, naturally, the corporeality of the dying Christ—is remarkable for a crucifix of this period. The closed eyes and the long hair, which falls down the back and right side of the head, reveal the emotional impact of death. A subtle twist in the torso was produced in part by the positioning of the legs, which were crossed and mounted on the cross with a single nail.
Mr. and Mrs. Maxime Levy Hermanos, Paris and New York (1921–79)
Briat, Rene. "Un Christ Gothique en Ivoire Francais Donne au Metropolitan Museum de New York." Connaissance des Arts no. 330 (August 1979). p. 65, ill.

Little, Charles T. "Ivoires et art gothique." Revue de l'art 46 (1979). pp. 59–60, fig. 4–5.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Notable Acquisitions, 1975-1979 (Metropolitan Museum of Art) (1979). p. 24.

Kleinbauer, Walter Eugene. "Recent Major Acquisitions of Medieval Art by American Museums." Gesta 19, no. 1 (1980). p. 69, fig. 12.

Howard, Kathleen, ed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1983. no. 31, p. 350.

Husband, Timothy B., and Charles T. Little. Europe in the Middle Ages. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. no. 86, p. 95.

Howard, Kathleen, ed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. 2nd ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994. no. 32, p. 384.

Barnet, Peter, ed. Images In Ivory: Precious Objects of the Gothic Age. Detroit: Detroit Institute of Arts, 1997. no. 8, pp. 128–29.

Sears, Elizabeth. "Ivory and Ivory Workers in Medieval Paris." In Images In Ivory: Precious Objects of the Gothic Age, edited by Peter Barnet. Detroit: Detroit Institute of Arts, 1997. no. 8, p. 21.

Wixom, William D., ed. Mirror of the Medieval World. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999. no. 127, pp. 105–6.

Wixom, William D. "Medieval Sculpture at the Metropolitan: 800 to 1400." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 62, no. 4 (2005). p. 27.

Hourihane, Colum P., ed. The Grove Encyclopedia of Medieval Art and Architecture. Vol. 3. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. p. 97.

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