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Processional cross with triumphant Christ (Christus triumphans) flanked by busts of the evangelists, Saints Matthew, John, Mark, and Luke (obverse); and suffering Christ (Christus patiens) flanked by busts of the Virgin Mary, God the father, Saint John and unidentified male saint with cross (Saint Philip?) (reverse)

Accession Number
1942.6

Title
Processional cross with triumphant Christ (Christus triumphans) flanked by busts of the evangelists, Saints Matthew, John, Mark, and Luke (obverse); and suffering Christ (Christus patiens) flanked by busts of the Virgin Mary, God the father, Saint John and unidentified male saint with cross (Saint Philip?) (reverse)

Artist(s)
Neri di Bicci

Object Creation Date
circa 1475

Medium & Support
tempera and gold on wood

Dimensions
24 ¾ in x 18 ½ in x 1 3/16 in (62.87 cm x 46.99 cm x 3.02 cm);24 ¾ in x 18 ½ in x 1 3/16 in (62.87 cm x 46.99 cm x 3.02 cm);22 in x 18 ½ in x 1 3/16 in (55.88 cm x 46.99 cm x 3.02 cm);3 ⅛ in x ¼ in x ¼ in (7.94 cm x 0.64 cm x 0.64 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of the Baroness Maud Ledyard von Ketteler

Label copy
March 28, 2009
The suffering and triumph of Christ are dramatically juxtaposed on this rare and delicate cross. On one side, the dead Christ slumps forward, flanked by the mourning Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist with God the Father looking on from above and the apostle Philip below. On the other side, by contrast, Christ stands upright, surrounded by the four Evangelists who witness his triumph over death and sin. This cross was carried aloft on a staff in religious processions, and the depiction of Christ on either side of the cross would ensure that an image addressed spectators no matter where they stood. The juxtaposition of the living and dead Christ would have resonated powerfully with many of the church rituals for which the cross was used, notably funeral rites and the Eucharist, which re-enacted Christ’s sacrifice.

Subject matter
The front (obverse) of the cross depicts the living Christ triumphant (Christus triumphans) on the cross, surrounded by busts of the Evangelists, Saints Matthew (proper left), John (top), Mark (proper right) and Luke (bottom), on the terminals. The reverse of the cross depicts the suffering Christ (Christus Patiens) surrounded on the terminals by busts of the mourning Virgin Mary (proper left) and Saint John the Evangelist (proper right), God the father holding an open book (top), and an unidentified male saint holding a cross, perhaps the Apostle Philip (bottom).

Physical Description
The arms of the cross end in quatrefoil-shaped terminals. The front (obverse) is gilded and features a molding along the edges. The back (reverse) has a deep azurite blue ground and a gilded band punched with tiny rosettes that runs along the border.

Primary Object Classification
Painting

Primary Object Type
panel painting

Additional Object Classification(s)
Ritual Object

Collection Area
Western

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
Early Renaissance
crosses (motifs)
panel paintings (paintings by form)
processions

6 Related Resources

Before 1492
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)
Devotional Objects Across Religions
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)
Early Modern European Objects
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
Lives of Christian Saints
(Part of 6 Learning Collections)
Religious Life in Medieval and Early Modern Europe
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
The Divine Comedy
(Part of 4 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

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