Gilt copper champlevé sculpture of the Crucified Christ

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France, Limoges
Second quarter 13th century
Gilding, champlevé enamel, Copper
17.5 x 14 cm

M. Gauthier, J. P. O’Neill, Enamels of Limoges: 1100-1350, Musée du Louvre & Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 1996, pp. 184 - 187.

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This gilded copper sculpture with a hollow back depicts the crucified Christ with outstretched hands. It was cast in Limoges, France, in the second quarter of the thirteenth century. Originally, this sculpture was attached to a cross, probably richly embellished and enameled. It was secured to the cross with nails through the holes in Christ's hands and feet.

The crowned Christ is depicted alive and with his head held high, triumphant over death. His beard and long hair are engraved with dotted lines and his eyes are formed by two glass beads. On his head, he wears a three-pointed crown, decorated with a dotted border and diamond shapes. His head is leaning slightly towards his right shoulder. The outline of the chest, ribs, abdomen and muscles are marked with a few engraved lines. He wears a sloping loincloth, fastened with a belt. His feet rest on a suppedaneum.  

The belt and loincloth are decorated with white and blue champlevé enamel, an enamelling technique that was most common in Europe from the 12th century onwards. The image was punched out of the copper and the resulting indentations filled with liquid enamel. The result was an opaque decoration in which the copper that was not cut out is part of the image. The strips of blue champlevé enamel on the loincloth and the gilding are partly worn away.


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