Title: Altar Crucifix
Date: c.1630s
Medium: Gilt bronze and lapis lazuli
108 x 43 x 19 cm
Credit Line: Purchased, 1966
Object Number: NGI.8014
DescriptionThis splendidly decorated crucifix is typical of art in Rome during the early baroque period. The dead Christ hangs limply from the cross with his head falling heavily to one side. His figure is modelled in classic form in the manner of an earlier example created by Giambologna and possibly adapted by Alessandro Algardi. The crucifix is elegant, and the contrasting combination of blue and gold gives it a precious appearance.

The figure of Christ, alongside the cherubs, the skull and cross bones and the 'INRI' cartouche are all made of gilt bronze, while the cross and stand are covered with lapis lazuli. Everything seems to suggest that this highly prized crucifix would have been destined for an important religious institution in one of the major European centres.

(National Gallery of Ireland: Essential Guide, 2008)
ProvenancePurchased, Heim Gallery, London, 1966
Label TextChrist’s crucifixion at Golgotha, a hill outside Jerusalem, is referred to in the New Testament. Christians use the crucifix as a visual focus for their prayer and contemplation. The cross and base of this altar crucifix are covered with lapis lazuli, a semi-precious stone that was valued by artists for its intense blue colour. In contrast, the details are modelled in gilt bronze, drawing attention to the figure of Christ at the centre. The skull symbolises the skull of Adam, who Christians believe was buried at Golgotha. Also, the word Golgotha means ‘the place of the skull’.