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Ringelheim Crucifix

German (Hildesheim)

Not on view

This elegantly carved crucifix is one of the most important monumental wood sculptures from the Ottonian era to survive. The imposing, nearlifesize figure, exceptionally sensitive head, and open eyes convey not physical suffering but quiet triumph. The gentle rotation of the body and the head is without precedent in surviving early medieval monumental crucifixes and helps convey the figure’s plasticity. During conservation treatment in 1949–52, relics were discovered in a cavity at the top of the head; they were accompanied by parchments identifying them as stones from the Holy Sepulcher, in Jerusalem, and bones of two early Christian saints. The crucifix’s reliquary function would have enhanced its status as a devotional object. It is thought to have been commissioned by Bishop Bernward for the convent of Ringelheim, in the Hartz Mountains near Hildesheim, in honor of his sister, Judith, the convent’s abbess.

Ringelheim Crucifix, Linden wood (corpus) and oak (arms), German (Hildesheim)

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