Mocking of Christ
unknown Florentine artist or Agnolo di Polo, attributed to
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This painted terracotta sculpture is in one of the chapels of the Sacro Monte at San Vivaldo. The Sacro Monte (literally sacred mountain) is a pilgrimage site built by the Franciscans. Small chapels each contain painted terracotta sculptures with events from the Passion of Christ. These chapels are arranged on the hilly terrain so that they evoke the actual geography in the Holy Land of the places in which the events occurred. This relief is, along with one of Christ before Caiaphas, in a chapel that represents the house of Caiaphas, which was near Mt. Zion, and so this chapel is placed in the area that represents Mt. Zion at the Sacro Monte. In a time in which pilgrimage to the Holy Land was for the most part impossible (because the territory was under Muslim control), the Sacro Monte offered a substitute or a simulacrum that was thought to be efficacious. In 1516, at the request of the Franciscans of San Vivaldo, Pope Leo X promulgated a brief granting indulgences (time off purgatory) to all who visited the site, which made it a major pilgrimage destination. At this and other Sacri Monti (of which there are several in Lombardy and Piedmont), devotees were to come in penitence, perhaps at night with a lantern, and move from chapel to chapel saying prayers. Here, the figures are executed in different styles -- the figure of Christ ins more refined, those of his tormentors cruder, with mask-like exaggerated faces, stiff poses, and summarily handled drapery. This could indicate a collaboration between two artists -- perhaps Agnolo di Polo for Christ and an unknown artist for the other figures. Alternatively, one artist could have varied his style for expressive effect. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.