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Exhibitions/ Art Object

Ringelheim Crucifix

ca. 1000/before 1022
German (Hildesheim)
Linden wood (corpus) and oak (arms)
Overall: 63 3/4 × 63 3/8 in. (162 × 161 cm)
Credit Line:
Dom-Museum Hildesheim, on loan from the church of Sts. Abdon and Sennen, Salzgitter-Ringelheim (L 1993-8)
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 Monastery (ca. 1000); permanent loan from the parish of Salzgitter-Ringelheim to the Dom-Museum Hildesheim Documentation: Kirchenkunst des Mittelalters: Erhalten und erfoschen. Katalog zur Ausstellung des Diözesan-Museums Hildesheim (Hildesheim: Bernward Verlag, 1991), pp. 85-106; Michael Brandt and Arne Eggebrecht, eds., Bernward von Hildesheim und das Zeitalter der Ottonen: Katalog der Ausstellung, Hildesheim 1993 (Hildesheim: Bernward Verlag/Mainz: Ph. v. Zabern, 1993), vol. 2, pp. 496-500.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Medieval Treasures from Hildesheim," September 16, 2013–January 5, 2014.