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The Crucified Christ with the Virgin Mary, Saint John the Evangelist, and Angels with Instruments of the Passion

Artist/maker unknown, Flemish

Made in Southern Netherlands (modern Belgium), Europe

c. 1460-1490

Painted oak

Cross: 14 feet x 9 feet 6 inches (426.7 x 289.6 cm) Base: 10 3/4 inches × 7 feet 2 1/4 inches × 12 inches (27.3 × 219.1 × 30.5 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

* Gallery 200, European Art 1100-1500, second floor (Lila Wallace--Reader´s Digest Fund Gallery)

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with Museum funds from the George Grey Barnard Collection, 1945

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This sculptural group originally stood over the entrance to the choir or altar area of a church, supported by a massive, wooden (rood) beam or screen. Thus, the group would have occupied the center of the nave and faced the congregation. The central image of the suffering Jesus relates to the saying of Mass at the altar, the Christian rite that celebrates Jesus' sacrifice for the salvation of mankind.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    When acquired by George Grey Barnard in 1925, this Crucifixion group was said to come from Oignies, a town in southern Belgium, a provenance that remains unconfirmed. Once such sculptures were common in Flemish churches, but many were destroyed in the Reformation in the sixteenth century, and this is the only example in a museum in the United States. Originally, the dramatic group would have been supported by a strong beam or screen, and stood above the entrance to a church choir with the main altar beyond. The scene of the crucifixion of Christ is directly related to the ceremony of the Mass that would have been said below. Emphasizing the centrality of the event to church doctrine are depictions of the Latin fathers of the church at the corners of the cross (clockwise: Saints Gregory the Great, Jerome, Ambrose, and Augustine). In the Museum, the group stands at the entrance to the medieval galleries in a navelike space that echoes its original placement. Dean Walker, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 112.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.