Southern Lebanon (?)
Crusader period, late 12th – early 13th century
Poplar wood, plaster, and paint
H: 43; W: 20 cm
Extended loan from the Goldman family, England
Accession number: 99.107/1
This powerful yet restrained depiction of the crucified Christ, of which only the head and torso remain, is the only known example of wooden sculpture from the Crusader period. Carved in poplar wood plastered and painted, it is remarkable for its high artistic quality.
The elongated head and features of the wooden Christ relate the work to a capital with bearded heads originally from Nazareth and now housed in the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate Museum in Jerusalem. Dated to the last quarter of the twelfth century, it was attributed alternatively to a French artist or, more likely to a local artist trained in the West or with local training under a European influence. On the other hand, the free treatment of the curls of Christ's beard and hair in the wooden statue and its tendency towards naturalism suggests that it was made at a slightly later date, probably by a French artist working in the Northern reestablished Latin Kingdom. Carbon 14 analysis has confirmed that it was created at the end of the twelfth or beginning of the thirteenth century, in the early Gothic period.
Rozenberg, S. (ed.), Knights of the Holy Land: The Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1999
Zalmona, Yigal, ed., The Israel Museum at 40: Masterworks of Beauty and Sanctity, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2005
Beauty and Sanctity: the Israel Museum at 40. A Series of Exhibitions Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2006
The Beauty of Sanctity: Masterworks from Every Age, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Spring-Summer 2005
Digital presentation of this object was made possible by: The Ridgefield Foundation, New York, in memory of Henry J. and Erna D. Leir